Hop into our sleigh for a fun ride to see the latest holiday packaging trends for private label and branded products.
Trick-or-treat, gobble-gobble-gobble and Ho-Ho-Ho pack a powerful seasonal punch that goes well beyond any other time of the year.
The winter holiday season outshines back to school as well as Valentine’s Day and Easter, according to the National Retail Federation. The Christmas season alone is roughly 60% of all major holiday sales, as reported by IBIS World, who did the last major study on holiday spending. With the National Confectioners Assn. (NCA) projecting $1.6 billion worth of holiday candy sales for 2015, these numbers would surely even make Santa smile.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) have long been in this game, with Coke actively changing its packaging with this year’s “Make Someone Happy” campaign and those fabulous limited-edition holiday Oreos we pull from the shelves. You can walk into any store this season and even see an entire aisle dedicated to celebrating the giving season, but more importantly, dedicated to buying.
Even retail brands outside of the store aisles are gearing up for the season. Starbucks seasonal lattes and coffee varieties have achieved monumental popularity, with Forbes estimating $100 million in revenue from just one flavor—pumpkin spiced latte—and not to mention the holiday red paper coffee cups, which caused a stir when they appeared without Christmas-specific designs earlier this year. Pizza Hut’s triple treat box also promises to push the season.
So this year at the U.S. Private Label Trade Show (Nov. 13-15; Chicago) organized by the Private Label Manufacturers Assn. (PLMA), we took a sleigh ride down the aisles to see what some of the attendees thought about holiday sales.
Mitigate obsolete inventory
Hearthside Food is one of the food industries largest contract manufacturers of baked goods and bars. According to Roy Jasper, vp of sales and marketing, Private Label, seasonal packages are highly strategic, core to his supplier strategy and about creating value for the customer (see photo above). "We do seasonal as a value-add. With it we can improve our chance of becoming a single source supplier by doing something that not many others can," Jasper says. In his category, he believes store brand seasonal sales, however, are declining for contract manufacturers, but not the overall category since retailers have allowed CPG-branded product to fill this space, mitigating their obsolete inventory risk associated with seasonal product.
Occasion-based marketing magic
The Popcorn Factory offers gourmet popcorn, sweets and more—and has made a business out of occasion-based marketing. Not surprisingly, the company’s take on seasonal packaging is wildly different. Christmas is number one because that’s when people spend, according to Alan Petrik, chief operating officer.
The Popcorn Factory really goes all out and has seasonal programs in department stores and on the web. He believes it is a big differentiator, and the benefit one gains from the risks of obsolete packaging outweighs the uncertainty; an astute and well-managed sales team can mitigate this risk. Given the importance of inventory management, the sales forecast becomes the Holy Grail. You have got to get it right.
In Petrik’s mind, doing seasonal packaging is not an option: “You offer a program seasonally because that’s when the influx of spending is.”
Toad-ally Snax is a small manufacturer of chocolate coated and drizzled snack foods out of Bristol, PA. Company president Darlette Jenkins focuses on Christmas and the other three big holidays: Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Easter. She takes advantage of these high sales periods to drive incremental value. In addition, she believes holiday seasonal packaging and products increase profit margins, extend the brand and deepen consumer engagement. In the coming year, she expects we will see more gift and multipack holiday packaging—thanks for the tip, Darlette!
Whatever the reason, holiday packaging and products can add to your bottom line, whether it be to retain your existing revenue stream or to add to it. Just know that there can be an ugly downside—too much product and returned inventory. So risk mitigation must be a carefully thought through strategy. And while my children tell me that Santa is really good at this, it is still a challenge that he, even with his helpers, has yet to master!
Ho-Ho-Ho! Happy Holidays.
Diane Primo is CEO of Purpose Brand, an award-winning public relations, brand and content marketing agency that helps companies, brands and organizations put purpose into practice—making brands more relevant and stakeholder communities stronger.
Learn about the latest developments in packaging design at WestPack 2016, Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.