Seasonal

‘TIS ALWAYS THE SEASON

Deb Fairchild
Design Director

February 12, 2020

Growing up, our Christmas stockings were a treasure trove of candy, but what I anticipated the most was the yearly LifeSavers Sweet Storybook. TEN rolls of LifeSavers Cherry, Butter Rum, Peppermint, Wint-O-Green, and my favorite, Tropical two of each of the flavors packaged in a carton which opened like a book with windows to reveal the rolls and graphics that celebrated the season.
Specific occasions, specific products.

I loved that box. Every year I’d find one in my stocking through my childhood and into my young adult life. It was a tradition.

Imagine my delight, as I was first starting out in my career, when I received a project brief from a new client. LifeSavers wanted me to redesign and re-imagine the Sweet Storybook. Oh, the joy! I could take one of my most cherished memories beyond a box that stored the LifeSavers rolls and push the ‘Storybook’ to the next level. I couldn’t believe this project landed on my desk!

I embarked on this beloved project by coming up with questions and then answering them. For example, did the box really need the windows? Sure, they revealed the product after you opened it, but you could already see the product through the side openings. Therefore, I decided that by taking away the windows, we could add some extra Christmas cheer and market value by using that space for simple games. Inspired by illustrations from children’s books and cartoons, we designed a word search, hidden objects, mazes, letter scrambles and matching objects to build an actual story. We also used the space of the Storybook to develop fun typography and play with color in unexpected ways. I loved this project year-after-year for 8 years!

Pushing the Sweet Storybook in new directions led LifeSavers to award us additional projects that were baby steps to the start of a comprehensive line of seasonal offerings. What followed were initial launches for Valentine’s Day and Easter. We designed Valentine’s Day Pops & Cards and its own Sweet Storybook, whereas for Easter, we made Pastel LifeSavers; an egg assortment Egg; and, of course, another Sweet Storybook. Following those holidays, we produced Halloween packaging with pops in seasonal colors and Seasonal LifeSavers Gummies were added for Christmas. Reinventing the basic core line of offerings to be more relevant was that “next best thing” for the consumer world.

 

Fast forward to today’s shelf and there’s a greater seasonal presence year-round than ever before. One season blends into the other. Initially, seasonal used to revolve around a specific holiday, but today’s “seasonal calendar” encompasses much more. We now include events and occasions such as Back-to-School, the Super Bowl, and BBQ season. They all have a place at shelf with products and packaging geared specifically to their “season.” Limited editions and special flavors appear only during these specific times of the year that consumers eagerly anticipate—and not just for candy at the retail shelf. For example, McDonald’s brings out its Shamrock Shake in spring; Ritz Snowflakes crackers for the winter, and Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte to mark the arrival of autumn. These products become an expected part of a particular season.

The seasonal shelf gives CPG companies the ability to innovate and explore new flavors. It helps put a fresh perspective on standard core items that draws the attention of the consumer while also pushing revenue on those tried and true products. For instance, OREO reinvents the brand’s core offering not only by providing double and triple stuffs but also by releasing various colors and flavors that reflect different seasons. What used to be a single product at shelf now has a rotation of over 40 products that constantly change throughout the seasonal calendar.

Regular year-round products seem to be overshadowed and diminished at shelf to make room for seasonal offerings. Retailers carve out sections within their stores—most notably, Target, Walmart and Walgreens—to feature seasonal items. These “seasonal aisles” become a destination onto their own within the store. In fact, thirty percent of consumers actually look for new items when shopping seasonal. For many brands, seasonal business provides more revenue than their core ranges. Consequently, CPG companies have entire teams and divisions devoted to nothing but seasonal.

I love observing and watching the growth within the seasonal market and the work being done within the industry. I enjoy working on seasonal items when given the opportunity and bringing all those learnings and observations with me to each new design. But that childhood memory of the Sweet Storybook will always hold a special place. The holiday tradition continued, albeit with new meaning for me, when I got to slip a Sweet Storybook I had designed into a Christmas stocking for my own daughter.

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