Should It Be The Season To Go Festive With Your Packaging?

Should It Be The Season To Go Festive With Your Packaging?

In this festive guest post, William Caruso, marketing scientist at Adelaide’s famed Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, takes a look at the pros and cons of brands that change packaging for the Christmas period…

The festive season is almost upon us. Yes, that time of year when retailers deck the aisles with tinsel and play Christmas carols on a continuous loop. Time for brands to roll out their festive packaging…?


Getting on the festive packaging bandwagon

Every year, many brands switch to a festive pack-design for the silly season. While it seems beneficial (or even harmless) to tie-in with holiday shopping, in the Christmas excitement some marketers fail to consider the risk that their festive design causes confusion, harming the brand’s identity.

Shoppers are distracted when they are in the supermarket. They are in a hurry, have budgets and shopping lists to worry about, nagging children and so much more. So shoppers use past-learned visual cues to save time, and to help them get what they need quickly. These visual cues are also known as Distinctive Assets —  non-brand name elements which trigger the brand name. Distinctive Assets are  short-cuts for buyers in a busy, cluttered in-store environment. They are learnt by buyers overtime through past exposure to advertising, packaging and/or product experiences.


Let’s imagine Renee is shopping for her favourite chocolate. The one that she often buys has characters on the pack. What happens if those characters are replaced by Santa Clause? Renee’s usual visual cues (those familiar characters) are missing as she quickly scans the shelf, so she just grabs another brand from her repertoire instead.

The situation is even worse if all (or many) brands in the category switch to Christmas designs, and all packs in the category start to look very similar.


Two important tips for pack changes:

  1. Define your shopping assets – Understand which visual cues consumers use to find your brand and know your brand’s shopping Distinctive Assets. Use this information to inform what to keep and what can be changed.
  2. Don’t confuse your buyers – Any pack changes shouldn’t take away from the pack being easily identifiable on the supermarket shelf. Don’t confuse customers at this last “selling opportunity”.

William Caruso is a Marketing Scientist at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. He is co-author on the Building Physical Availability with Distinctive Assets chapter, which is part of a new book Building Distinctive Brand Assets by Jenni Romaniuk (author of How Brands Grow part 2) out in March 2018. 

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Ehrenberg-Bass Institute William Caruso

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