The Role and Evolution of the Royal Warrant on Consumer-Packaged Goods
In recent weeks the world has watched as we say goodbye to Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II. Alongside our peers and colleagues across the industry, the team here at Behaviorally share our deepest condolences to the Royal family and all those saddened by the news of Her Majesty’s passing. As the longest reigning monarch in British history, and indeed one of the longest serving public figures globally, her impact on society and culture in the UK and beyond is immeasurable.
Here in Britain, Queen Elizabeth II is represented in many tiny touchpoints throughout our day to day lives. She is present when we take cash out of our wallet, when we pop a stamp on our mail to send a card to a loved one, and she is even present when we pick up some of our favourite goods in the supermarket.
That’s right, look closer at the packaging of your favourite bar of Cadbury’s chocolate, your Kellogg’s cornflakes, or when you gently tap your bottle of Heinz ketchup and you’ll see the placement of what is known as the ‘Royal Warrant’.
A Royal Warrant of Appointment is a formal recognition granted by the reigning monarch of goods or services that are regularly supplied to royal households. While these are not exclusively limited to FMCG products, many of our food and beverage favourites have been granted this accolade, signifying that these products are indeed ‘fit for royal consumption’. Just some of the brands who have the right to bear the Royal Arms include Twining’s Tea, McIlhenny Tabasco Sauce, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Schweppes, and Quaker Oats to name a few. And when it comes to grocery shopping, only one supermarket has the royal seal of approval and that’s Waitrose. To learn more about who else can claim to be in royal favour you can find a full list of royal warrant holders here.
From a brand perspective, being granted a royal warrant is a prestigious accolade. Historically, perceptions of royals have been associated with wealth, luxury and indulgence. A preference for your product and regular consumption by the royal household can act as a signifier of quality when compared to other brands and some have been known to use this association in consumer marketing that goes beyond the emblem on pack. For example, Schweppes proudly says its product “has been served at Britain’s most prestigious households and events for 225 years,” using its credentials in this space to drive their brand story around quality and heritage.
But while brands may strive to be recognised by this most prestigious of consumers, do everyday consumers and shoppers really care about a royal warrant? And what impact, if any, does it have on a product’s success? Well, it seems in some cases, these royal credentials can drive sales. As one example, the Queen was well known for her penchant for the odd tipple and when she granted a royal warrant to Dubonnet (a French wine-based aperitif owned by Pernod Ricard) in 2021, sales reportedly sky-rocketed. Likewise, over recent weeks retailers have reportedly been selling out of the product as consumers look to raise a toast with her Majesty’s favourite cocktail.
Alongside all other aspects of the Queen’s representation in British culture, her passing has a significant impact for these brands holding the royal warrant. When a monarch dies, all the existing warrants granted by them essentially become void and new applications must be pursued to be granted the same status again. This means the likes of Cadbury’s, Kellogg’s and Schweppes now have to undertake a process of removing the royal coat of arms from their product packaging while awaiting the potential of a new warrant from the current monarch and or any associated grantors.
Here is where we may start to see an evolution in food, beverage, beauty and other products that are either reissued their royal warrant or are granted one for the first time. HRH King Charles III and his heir, the Prince of Wales, have long been champions of sustainable initiatives in their shared pursuit of a greener future. In fact, reports suggest that as part of any new royal warrant applications brands must demonstrate that they are ethical and sustainable by providing an environmental policy and an action plan.
So, with a change in monarch, evidence of shifting attitudes towards the role of royals (especially with younger consumers), and the need to remove and potentially reinstate the royal coat of arms on some of our favourite packaged goods, things are certainly evolving here in the UK. Just this week we have seen the release of King Charles III new CRIII insignia which soon will take pride of place on currency, postage stamps and could be incorporated into royal warrant imagery in future. Overall, this is an interesting time to observe the influence and impact of the monarchy in British culture, particularly as it relates to brands and marketing.
Here at Behaviorally, our commitment is to help marketers own the most valuable moment in marketing: the sales transaction. We have extensively explored consumer and shopper behaviours and the importance of sustainability in driving decision-making means, which makes us well-suited to explore these interrelated changes with brands especially as it relates to the placement of information on pack, at shelf, and beyond. We compiled over 5 decades of learnings including how to be more sustainable in our free e-book, “The Power of Packaging to Drive Shopper Growth”.
Contact our London team or the local team near you today to discuss getting you a Royal Warrant.
Emma Kirk is VP of Market Development in Europe at Behaviorally and is based in the UK. Despite her British roots Emma loves international travel and work abroad and in the last 15 years has worked in Florida, France and New York City. With a background in Psychology and Sociology Emma loves exploring human behavior while also keeping an eye on socio-cultural trends and how they influence the consumer landscape. Fun fact, she is also a gluten-free food blogger, sharing her foodie finds with her thousands of Instagram followers!
Follow her on Twitter @Research_Em1 or on LinkedIn.