THE PURPOSE OF PACKAGING, IN THE TRADITIONAL SENSE, CAN’T BE DEFINED BY JUST ONE ABSOLUTE. RATHER, THERE IS A MYRIAD OF FACTORS THAT DEFINE THE PURPOSE OF PACKAGING AND THE PRODUCT’S INTRODUCTION TO THE MARKET.
Beyond the issues of containment, safety, and transportation, packaging is about marketing and keeping your brand alive, fresh and memorable in the hearts and minds of the consumer. CPG companies are always looking for unique ways to disrupt the process, yet keep their brands relevant as they compete more aggressively for consumer attention.
In an effort to deliver product innovation and relevance in building brand leadership, the advanced applications of digital and ﬂexographic printing provide CPG companies the increased opportunity to deploy a wide variety of short-run packaging events and variations. This includes customized and personalized packaging, special or limited edition packaging, special event, thematic, and seasonal packaging.
Of these occasions, the largest segment by total spend and sales volume remains seasonal packaging. As an integrated component of your marketing mix, seasonal packaging provides valuable opportunities to enhance proﬁtability and build consumer loyalty, and studies indicate consumers are willing to pay more for premium, unique or limited edition packaging solutions. Seasonal packaging also delivers the potential to drive incremental sales, enhance customer preference, introduce new products, improve on existing products or launch a line extension.
With the majority of products still purchased “at shelf,” effective seasonal packaging capitalizes on the atmosphere, emotionalism, nostalgia and positive seasonal associations that stimulate appeal or renew excitement and interest in your brand. Seasonal packaging also beneﬁts from an “exclusivity effect” due to its limited availability on shelf, accompanied (generally speaking) by affordability and accessibility across most income brackets. You may not buy a new table for a seasonal gathering, but you most likely will purchase seasonal napkins, décor or specialty food items for entertaining.
For all the right reasons, seasonal packaging is worth pursuing but as in any packaging related undertaking, it comes with its own set of challenges, both in development of a creative approach and in production scheduling and timing. Examining the key points of consideration associated with both will help you design and execute a proﬁtable and effective seasonal program.
Successful seasonal packaging always begins by defining the objectives of your brand and your product’s alignment with an appropriate based seasonal promotion. Define how a seasonal packaging program aligns with the core essence of your brand. What are the holidays or events you would most likely want to be attached to in terms of your brand’s vision and messaging? Where do opportunities exist that uniquely favor your brand? Additionally, consider cause-related seasonal opportunities that work to your brand advantage well after the end of the formal season. Once you have finalized the type of approach that aligns with your marketing, begin to break down key activities, resources, and timing necessary to achieve your objectives.
Key Preplanning Activities:
Objectives: Define and understand your market, trends, and consumers, using data to define the scope and compose a project brief that all teams and vendor partners agree to align to.
Budget: Establish a budgetary range with limitations, and mechanisms to monitor spend against the budget.
If your seasonal packaging program will be repeated, post-mortem project evaluation of activity can define hot spots, which can be improved in the future, or efficiencies that should be repeated.
Product: When introducing a new product form, flavor, color or size differing from your standard product line up – communicate changes to packaging structure, count, and content with additional or new messaging.
Integration: Will product appear on shelf with non-seasonal packaging? Are elements of the previous seasonal program included in the campaign? Define alignment with the current brand story.
Creative: Define specific visual cues/messages to be incorporated into recognized seasonal events, activity, and iconography.
Generally speaking, imagery and messaging should be kept secular (non-religious) in nature; creating neutral designs appealing to a broader cross-section of consumers has a side benefit that allows retail outlets to keep product on shelf longer.
Fit: Be realistic – some products do not mesh well with a “seasoned” approach and it may do more harm than good to embark upon a seasonally-tailored packaging program.
Seasonal packaging is more than simply creating and swapping out a new product, design or package structure. Most seasonal packaging requires launching marketing and production activity at least six to nine months, or in some cases, a year in advance of having product on shelf or in the marketplace. This requires close planning and coordination with retail partners to understand how timing and display expectations influence when and how product is displayed. Meeting supply chain demands can extend production timing out further than eight to 10 weeks based on the volume, packing, and shipping configurations required to meet channel partner needs.
When implementing your seasonal packaging program, it’s essential you have a strong partnership with design and branding experts. If you don’t have these services in-house, partner with an agency that is experienced in brand design and packaging, making sure the agency can articulate and demonstrate the following:
– Sensitivity to maintaining, enhancing, and expressing your existing core brand equities
– Ability to develop and execute unique, impactful, consumer-relevant, cost-effective structural and visual designs that are not merely iterations of previous or competitive designs
– Ability to create and integrate design options with brand strategy and any specific promotional opportunities
– Ability to anticipate, identify and execute design to production materials with print and production partners, remaining within cost and time parameters
– Accountability for requisite detail and quality control process to guarantee error-free work including proofing, regulatory compliance and quality-control checkpoints for accurate structure, color, architecture, and brand alignment
The competition in CPG innovation and packaging is only becoming fiercer. More than ever, and in an increasingly complex and competitive market that is changing at a pace faster than most can keep up with, effective packaging still needs to stand out to win in the virtual and retail worlds. Seasonal packaging gives consumers packaging or product that is new and fresh – that fits and enhances their image and expression of the season – and for retailers equates to a lift in sales.
If capturing a larger percentage of the billions consumers spend on CPG products related to seasonal events isn’t reason enough to contemplate seasonal packaging, consider the added bonuses of gaining new consumers and achieving stronger brand image, recognition, and ultimately loyalty. With the right plan, a strong design partner, and a solid creative direction that maintains your brand’s attributes, you’ll be well on your way to seasonal success.
BrandDirections has been creating packaging and seasonal package design for some of the world’s largest CPG companies. From that experience, we have learned that packaging is more than just a way to get your product to market. It’s the ultimate moment of truth when your customers make their final purchasing decision. From concept through structural design, we specialize in packaging innovations that grab consumer attention and mindshare.
Our specialties include:
• Brand architecture/development
• Packaging design
• Final art production
• Photo direction
• Color management
• Virtual and physical comps
• Point-of-Sale design
We invite you to learn more about our capabilities and our processes at our website www.brand-directions.com
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