7th of December 2022

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By Dr William Caruso Senior Marketing Scientist Ehrenberg-Bass Institute
Published by B&T See original article

Don’t let your Santa pack ruin your Christmas!

Dr William Caruso, a Senior Marketing Scientist at Adelaide’s famed Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, looks at the pros and cons of redesigning packaging for the festive season.

The festive season is almost upon us. Yes, that time of year when retailers decorate stores and play Christmas carols on a continuous loop. Here we go again, the shelves are bursting with seasonal packaging, and many brand managers are planning and hoping for a spike in sales. But can your brand look festive and distinctive at the same time?

Getting on the festive packaging bandwagon

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 and the Christmas excitement, if all packs in the category start to look similarly ‘Christmassy’, it makes it harder to find any brand. Christmas has its own very strong Distinctive Brand Assets, and borrowing these can be at a cost to your own brand’s distinctiveness. By directly activating the season (and not the brand) in someone’s memory, you indirectly prime other (often larger) brands.

How shoppers shop

Shopper purchases both in-store and online are largely automatic, often built on years of habitual behaviour to make quick decisions. Additionally, shoppers are often distracted when they are in the supermarket. They are in a hurry, have budgets and children to worry about. As a result, shoppers use past-learned visual cues to save time and help them quickly get what they need.

These visual cues are also known as Distinctive Assets – non-brand name elements which trigger the brand name. Distinctive Assets can be shortcuts for buyers in a busy, cluttered in-store environment. Buyers learn them over time through past exposure to advertising, packaging and/or product experiences. Examples include character assets, like the M&Ms characters, colour assets include the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple and product forms such as the Lindt Ball.

It is vital to understand what assets buyers use to find your brand and keep these consistent in seasonal packaging designs. Let’s imagine a shopper is shopping for their favourite chocolate. What happens if the familiar purple becomes red and green, or the M&M’s characters are dressed to look like Santa Claus? With the familiar visual cues missing, so too is the quick recognition that normally comes when the shopper quickly scans the shelf, so they just grab another brand instead.

Read the full article in B&T.

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