Close up of candy corn

Spooked By The Shelf? We Have Frightening Pack Design Tips

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Close up of candy corn

As we approach Halloween, the Behaviorally (Formerly PRS) European team wanted to ‘gift’ you some insights on how to design effective seasonal packaging. Something that will be even more important come 2022 with hashtag #HFSS regulation in force.

Halloween is nearly upon us, and amongst all the ghouls and ghosts, the supermarket shelves are full of limited edition themed products and seasonal packaging designs.

Seasonal events like Halloween are a huge opportunity for product innovation to attract new users as they allow brands to be disruptive and relevant, by bringing new news to the shopper at a time when impulse purchase decisions are even more frequent than usual.

However, many of these products will fall short of sales expectations as the packaging designs fails to adhere to behavioral principles that are crucial for seasonal or special edition packaging efforts to succeed at shelf.

As HFSS regulation will introduce restrictions on promotions and in-store placement from 2022 onwards, pack design in many ‘treat’ categories will become the most important tool marketers have in gaining attention on shelf.

So what principles should you have in mind for your seasonal designs?


Keep brand identity within design to ensure users still recognise their brand or product.

Care must be taken so that design theme does not infringe too far upon core visual equities and established variant choice codes. Often there can be permission to experiment with colour and product imagery, but with branding maintained to ensure familiarity.

Seasonal versions of Jaffa Cakes and Haribo Trick or Treat candies

Use colour to reflect the proposition.

Brands can make clever use of colours by aligning with the season (orange for autumn/Halloween, red for winter holidays, etc.)

Seasonal versions of Mr. Kipling and Scream candies

Promote synergy between the event and the pack design.

Packaging that intuitively conveys the season whilst adding a novel twist to the design is likely to disrupt in a positive manner

Seasonal versions of Cadbury white chocolate biscuts called "skeleton fingers" and 'Spooky' Oreo biscuits

Link packaging to other touchpoints, particularly social media.

Skittles encouraged people to engage with the brand on Twitter via their special edition Halloween product. Ensure your packaging is a “talkpiece” for the right reasons.

Advertisment promoting the Zombie Skittles Challenge and the package of Cadbury Dairy Milk Oreo candies

However, similar to Halloween, there is danger present with seasonal packaging, so be aware. The biggest barrier to success is confusion, and a famous example of this was the Coca-Cola White and Silver can launched at Christmas but that was pulled early due to consumer confusion with the existing silver colour-way for Diet Coke.


Finally, be mindful of distribution.

Seasonal packaging has a limited shelf life and can become an annoyance if it lingers in transition beyond the seasonal dates. Avoid ‘pack zombies’ at all cost!



Kai VirtanenKai Virtanen is a Vice President of Market Development for Behaviorally (formerly PRS). connect with him on LinkedIn.




Grant MontagueGrant Montague is a Vice President of Client Development for Behaviorally (formerly PRS).  Connect with him on LinkedIn.




William ReeveWilliam Reeve is a Vice President of Client Development for Behaviorally (formerly PRS). Connect with him on LinkedIn.





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