Packaging design becomes a key brand differentiator at Christmas during the peak trading period. However, despite its potential, summer packaging has yet to take off to the same extent. Manufacturers of fast moving consumer goods and over-the-counter healthcare products in particular could benefit from more diverse seasonal packaging designs, although this should not jeopardize efficacy claims.
Datamonitor research has consistently shown that brand differentiation is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. Manufacturers are therefore looking towards ancillary benefits to drive standout appeal; consumers are influenced by product packaging to a significant extent, and innovative designs have become critical success factors. Traditionally, at Christmas manufacturers have a "license" to seasonally theme their packaging in order to capture increased consumer spend. Yet despite its lucrative potential, summer-focused packaging remains underused.
There are brands and categories which trade well during the summer, such as cider, barbecue foods, ice cream, salad, hay fever medication, insect repellent, and sunscreen. These are products which need very little overt positioning on a seasonal basis, due to high demand during this time of year. That said, campaigns could be repositioned to emphasize seasonal highlights, as Coca-Cola did in Australia with its "enjoy your summer" campaign which featured appropriately uplifting imagery. A similar campaign message could be beneficial for hay fever manufacturers, touting the joys of summer rather than focusing exclusively on curing the ailments associated with hay fever.
Most categories have relatively constant year-round sales and a number of brands have capitalized on the marketing opportunities that summer brings in terms of product differentiation. This year, for instance, Kleenex introduced a unique wedge-shaped box in the style of an ice cream cone. In a crowded sector that is heavily under threat from "me-too" brands and private labels, this has helped to differentiate the Kleenex brand. Fresh packaging designs can also help to target new consumers and new usage occasions.
There are a number of over-the-counter (OTC) healthcare categories with seasonal launches which are aimed primarily at health problems that tend to occur at certain times of the year, such as allergies, colds, and the flu. However, there are very few examples of new product launches in functional food and beverages which have made any kind of seasonal tie-in, as most products tend to be geared around specific conditions such as energy enhancement, heart health, memory health, immune support, and joint health. There is a gap in the market for OTC health and wellness categories to invest in seasonal summer packaging, and herein lies an opportunity for brands such as Abreva, Tums, Nicorette, Nicoderm CQ, Sensodyne, Panadol, and Horlicks to differentiate their product offerings.
Marketing strategies for these OTC healthcare products have to date very much been based on performance, and Datamonitor research has shown that product efficacy is the key factor which draws consumers to a particular brand and keeps them returning. The conundrum for marketers and packaging experts alike will be successfully leveraging a seasonal element into product positioning, without undermining the product's efficacy claims.
This article is distributed by Datamonitor via Acquire Media.