Limited edition holiday food packaging can be a great marketing strategy to boost sales— or it can leave potential customers out in the winter cold. Major brands like Starbucks and Coca-Cola have been capitalizing on the holiday season for years to increase sales through iconic holiday packaging: think Starbucks’ red coffee cups or Coke’s polar bear holiday cans.
These brands have also mastered the art of emotionally connecting with customers’ nostalgia for the holidays while avoiding packaging designs that appear dated, are inadvertently offensive, or have too short a shelf life. Here’s a few dos and don'ts of holiday packaging that can help your brand get in the seasonal spirit.
DO be ready for gift giving.
Sophisticated packaging will make your product stand out as a potential gift.
- Ballantine’s packages their Scottish whisky is a special container with a top that doubles as an ice tray– perfect for an immediate holiday party.
- Belvedere Vodka encases their iconic vodka bottle in a wooden log covered in a metal shield engraved with poinsettias during the holiday season.
While luxury brands selling alcohol and fine chocolates have employed this strategy for years, you don’t need to have a “high end” product to use gift-ready packaging. Starbucks, for example, lets customers purchase a bag of their holiday roast together with a coffee mug, making it the perfect last-minute gift.
Think creatively about what items you can pair your product with to make it an easy holiday gift.
DON’T be offensive with your packaging design.
While holiday-themed packaging that includes snowmen and Santas is usually pretty safe, know your audience before rolling out a new design. In general, avoid anything with religious imagery.
A chocolate calendar (like this one from La Maison du Chocolat), for example, could be a great countdown to Christmas or a fun way to celebrate each night of Hanukkah. Labeling it an “advent calendar” and including religious imagery, however, may alienate potential customers.
Know your marketplace and err on the side of caution.
DO get creative with your logo or labels.
In a marketplace that’s saturated with Santas and snowmen, sometimes a playful label is all you need to stand out from the crowd. Pot Noodle re-imagined their label as “Pot Noeldle” and added the tagline “The Gift that Keeps on Giving”— a playful reference to the classic line from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Vaseline sold their lip therapy balm in a special limited edition “pink bubbly” container with the tagline “petroleum jelly with a hint of decadence.”
Small tweaks to your original food packaging design, label or logo can help your product standout.
DON’T put an expiration date on your design.
Holiday packaging design and production can be a significant investment for businesses. Specialty packaging that expires after just one month is a big investment. Get more mileage out of your holiday packaging by picking a design that has a shelf life beyond December 31.
Instead of focusing on holiday-themed designs (e.g., red and green packaging, Santa and his elves, etc.), opt for a winter theme. Take, for example, Widmer Brothers, Redhook, and Kona Brewing Co. who package their craft beers in specialty winter packaging that evoke the tone and spirit of the season all winter long.
The Bottom Line
Whether it’s a slight logo change, a playful label or a gift-giving ready package, great holiday food packaging design will tug your customer’s heartstrings– and increase the likelihood of a purchase. Just watch out that your playfulness doesn’t cross the line into offensive. Try to avoid designs that contain religious imagery with limited-appeal. Instead, opt for classic holiday imagery or a winter-theme that will last long past December 31.