December 12, 2018

5 Min Read
How seasonal packaging can work hard for your brand
Specially designed seasonal packaging can give your product a nice sales bump.

Mick Clark

Winter is here, and with it all the glitzy brouhaha that surrounds the holidays. For most people, it is a time to surrender to the festive spirit and indulge in anything remotely “Yule.”

Savvy retailers know this and make every attempt to draw shoppers into the fantasy, whether through frosting on the windows, piped-in Christmas tunes or staff wearing seasonal jumpers.

Something else that appears on shelves at this time is seasonal packaging. A sprig of mistletoe here, a reindeer’s nose there can really make all the difference when it comes to increasing sales throughout December.

Idea, a specialist branding firm, claims that its client Toblerone boosted sales by a massive 400% after replacing its brand name with the words “Ho Ho Ho” on its packaging during the run-up to Christmas in 2006.

Keep these three tips in mind as you’re planning your next seasonal packaging campaign.

1. Choosing your holiday season

Depending on your product, not every holiday will be suitable for seasonal packaging. Food and drink normally does well on all occasions—Easter, Halloween, Christmas—and enthusiastic butchers have even marketed steak as the perfect Valentine’s Day purchase. Other consumables, like toiletries or cleaning products, might find it harder to make such a connection.

On the plus side, there are an ever-increasing number of celebrations to target, from world awareness weeks to discount shopping days such as Black Friday and China’s Singles Day.

“Think of holidays and events that may not be as obvious or help raise awareness to causes close to the brand,” says Hetal Pandit, director of branding and packaging design agency DCP.

She suggests that making small alterations to packaging is a great way to keep brands relevant in the minds of consumers, as well as increase sales.

Skittles did this brilliantly by removing the color from its packaging to support Pride,” Pandit adds. “Seasonal packaging can be cost-effective, especially if brands haven’t updated their designs in a while. But it is important to keep an eye on your budget and see what makes commercial sense.”

2. Don’t over-order

When planning some season-related packaging, there are more things to consider than simply the design.

One common pitfall to avoid is over-stocking products that feature seasonal designs. The danger here is that, come the end of the occasion, you may be left with stock of packaging that is no longer relevant once the season has passed.

However, there are ways to avert this. One tactic is to only include changes that can be removed, such as a label or ribbon. Another is to make small alterations that do not veer too far from the original design and are likely to be overlooked, increasing the product’s shelf life as a result.

In fact, keeping the brand recognizable is vital if companies are to avoid confusing their customer base.

In 2011, Coca-Cola went all-out in promoting its campaign to protect the endangered polar bear. After releasing 1.4 billion special-edition white Coke cans, it received numerous complaints from consumers who had bought the special edition believing it was Diet Coke. The company ended up releasing a set of alternative red cans to put right its mistake.

Huge corporations like Coca-Cola can absorb the cost of such missteps. This may not be the case for smaller enterprises, so the advice here is be subtle and plan carefully.

Pandit says, “Brands could even focus on winter packaging and make it less about Christmas so they can keep the product on the shelf after the new year and reduce some of the risk.”

3. Show them something special

At this time of year there is a lot of competition for shoppers’ attention. Adding a touch of creativity to your packaging designs is one way to stand out from the crowd.

Nutella proved this with its idea of offering customers the chance to personalize jars with their names—to great success. Coca-Cola soon followed suit, releasing bottles and cans with names where the logo usually sits.

Packaging waste has become a contentious issue in recent years. The public is more conscious than ever about reducing their carbon footprint and generally being more environmentally friendly. One way to respond to this is by offering reusable packaging such as ornate bottles or hinged cases. The Body Shop is known for this, often presenting its gift ranges in tins that buyers can put to other purposes once they have used the product itself.

Creating seasonal packaging for your product is a relatively easy way to increase sales at selected points throughout the year.

By including seasonal elements in packaging using colors, ribbons or alternate designs, you can turn your product into something many consumers will be looking for during special occasions like the holidays. Not only will it help to catch passing trade, but it can also create a lasting association between your brand and the season you choose.


Mick Clark has more than 31 years’ worth of experience in the packaging industry, the majority of this accumulated while working as sales director for independent contract packing company WePack Ltd. This broad portfolio entails taking responsibility for the everyday running of the company, advising many clients on day to day packaging, and ensuring the wellbeing of both the business and its workforce.


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