Seasonal Blues . . . .or should they be Greens? – PRS IN VIVO – A BVA GROUP COMPANY

Seasonal Blues . . . .or should they be Greens?

We are entering the fever pitch of seasonal holiday product packaging!

Opening of windows in Advent Calendars (a seasonal ritual accredited to German tradition) used to mark the 24 days leading up to Christmas.  Thanksgiving in the US and the airing of UK Christmas Ads online and on TV used to mark the start of the Christmas buying season and the most ordinary of grocery items have gotten into the act.

Our US colleagues reported that this year, Halloween candy was barely distributed before we started seeing everyday products from confectionery to facial tissue appearing in stores with new packaging all dressed up for Christmas.

So the selling season has been extended to 7, maybe 7 1/2 weeks?  Quite a short period of time to realize any increased sales for all the incremental investment in seasonal packaging, which for most brands does not trigger much in terms of sales loft (possible exceptions being the confection categories).   Not to mention the need to avoid the losses and negative impact to brands with remaindered seasonally decked out product left on the shelves after the Yuletide has passed.

Structural, as well as design modifications, are often required for seasonal packs, in additional to unique POS displays.  There are just-in-time logistics considerations and sometimes even modification of recipes.  So seasonal packaging is a big deal in the life of a CPG marketer, for not much is guaranteed in terms of revenue returns.  And it is made that much more discordant if you are planning the next New Years’ themed packs in July!

Nonetheless, the pack has a job to do. Whether it is Christmas, or Valentine’s day, or Easter or, as the calendar comes round, Halloween and the fall holidays (don’t underestimate the durability of the “Pumpkin Spice” line extensions that greet us in the fall) marketers need to be thinking with two minds:  how does the consumer sees the brand and how do they relate it to the given holiday?

And there is also a lot to lose: if come January 2nd,  your retail partners are marking down your seasonally packaged inventory, you have lost the behavioral game of getting a consumer to choose you over a competitor.

Brand assets must shine through to stimulate key behavioral triggers and Drivers of Influence like Saliency and Recognition.  Brand promises and key benefits must be conveyed along with the Nostalgia associated with the relevant holiday or special occasions.  Subconscious intuitive associations must connect both with the holiday and the brand.  Christmas defaults to Red and Green no matter your brand identity.  Breast Cancer Awareness Month defaults to Pink even if your brand is always clothed in earth tones.

The irony of seasonally themed packaging is that unlike other line extensions, with likely longer shelf lives, seasonal package designs are not always given the same degree of validation. Why?  Often because of perceived cost, but certainly other reasons associated with the speed at which pack designs need to be decided and pushed into market.

And because the less than obvious combinations of brand and seasonal associations are often even unconscious to the consumer, validation and testing needs to be much more behavioral or “system 1” so that true emotional connections can be identified.

Time sensitive solutions to evaluate options are needed so that the investments and bets in the seasonal packaging are optimal.

Our agile behavioral solutions have been developed by leveraging  validated technology and our human experts. Whether it is the application of AI against our extensive database of pack and shelf designs to support expert insights, or our ability to conduct a rapid web-based performance analysis of your pack in the context of our wide catalog of shelf designs: we are helping clients optimize and validate seasonal packs that can engage consumers, and win at the physical and virtual shelves.

As you plan for your 2020 shopper marketing, whether it is to support your perennial packaging or your seasonal variations, let us help you put on your holiday best, to influence consumer choice and drive sales growth.