Affordable Seasonal Packaging: Boost Appeal for Small Businesses

Affordable Seasonal Packaging: Boost Appeal for Small Businesses

The festive season is a time of joy, celebration, and for e-commerce brands, a golden opportunity to connect with customers on an intrinsically emotional level. Yet, with increasing competition, small businesses can find it difficult to set themselves apart, especially when on a budget. However, there are a handful of budget-friendly ways to achieve seasonal packaging designs that stand out in a crowd.

As always, observing market trends, reviewing case studies, and conducting competitive analysis helps brands stay relevant, throughout the seasons. Brands that effectively utilize holiday packaging, across the year, often see a noticeable uptick in sales during the respective season. The National Retail Federation found that consumers (58%) found it “important for them to spend on holiday gifts and celebrations.” Holiday packaging, when executed with a clear strategy with a focus of maintaining brand identity, can resonate profoundly with consumers. Fortunately, no breaking of budgets need occur on brand new packaging designs to sway a consumer’s purchase decision.

Let’s unwrap some affordable festive flair!

Seasonal Packaging That Builds Brand Loyalty

First impressions matter and in the e-commerce space, a consumer’s first impression with a brand (in real life) is often through its brand packaging. A parcel wrapped with care and a touch of festive spirit can be the difference between a one-time purchase and a lifetime customer – building brand loyalty not only for the gift-giver, but also for the receiver.

A simple seasonal change in the packaging design can make even the most familiar product feel new and exciting. Even expected seasonal product changes or limited edition packaging can serve to build a loyal customer base, as exemplified by the holiday packaging campaigns successfully carried out by companies like Coca-Cola (polar bear) and Starbucks (red cups), as well as many other (non-beverage) companies. By utilizing creativity, understanding customer sentiment, and making the most of what is already there, it is possible to include small, temporary additions to packaging that minimize expenditure and maintain functionality whilst creating a timeless impact for consumers — that, indeed, is magical.

Tailor Packaging To Match The Purchase’s Purpose: Gifting

The holidays are a very personal, family-oriented time of year, evoking feelings of nostalgia, warmth, and a sense of belonging. With consumers increasing focus on self and family during this time of year, it is prudent to think about personalizing seaonal packaging to fit the use case for the purchase — most often, gifting. 

As McKinsey points out: 78% of consumers say they're more likely to purchase from a brand that personalizes their experience, with a Twilio report showing that 56% of consumers are more likely to be repeat buyers with the offer of a personalized experience, whether in-store or online. Festive, custom packaging, personalized for the gifting intention of the consumer, creates a memorable unboxing experience for the giver and receiver alike.

Holidays Oriented Around Gifting Offer Two Marketing Opportunities

For holidays oriented around gifting and gift boxes, most brands miss the fact that purchases made and then gifted present an opportunity to impress not one, but two (or more - think of the extended family around the Christmas tree) consumers. This is an easy win for lifetime customers in the buyer, but also if the unboxing, gifting experience is special and impressive for the receiver of the gift,  resulting in the potential acquisition of a new customer in them too. This is why it’s important to think of product packaging, especially during the holiday season(s), as a marketing tool. Other holidays beyond the November, December, January holidays that encourage gifting are Valentine’s Day and Easter.

Here are some design ideas to upgrade seasonal packaging for specific, gifting-oriented holidays:

    • Christmas
      Consider adding gold accents to elevate the standard red and green; opt for lush ribbon, instead of plastic bows to achieve a luxe feel.
  • Valentine’s Day
    Keep it simple and avoid gimmicky hearts, simplicity often creates a lasting brand association and drives customer loyalty; think of the iconic Hershey’s Kisses — a timeless gift that everyone is happy to receive come Valentine’s. 
  • Halloween
    No other holiday opens the door to such a range of spooky, eerie design options; from pumpkins to ghosts to zombies, the options are endless.
  • Easter
    Celebrate the freshness of the season, as Spring is ahead, with pastel shades and nature-inspired designs. 
  • Festive Flair Doesn’t Require New Packaging

    Fortunately, there’s no need to invest in entirely new packaging for the festive season. Adding festive flair to existing inventory can be achieved through four economical additions:

      1. Incorporating Holiday Stickers
        A simple and cost-effective way to add a holiday touch. These can be placed on the exterior of boxes or as a seal for tissue paper. Arka offers both circular stickers or square (with rounded edges) stickers, both easily customized by uploading a design file and starting at minimum order quantities of 100 stickers.
      2. Creating Custom Tissue Paper
        Swap out regular packing tissue for something with a festive design. It's an easy switch that can make an impact on opening, whilst keeping fragile products safe. With’s Design Online tool, one can create and design custom tissue paper in one go, having it instant-proofed, and paid for within mere minutes. Uploading photos and images to be featured on the custom tissue paper or using the shapes and text tools in the Design Online tool creates something truly original.
  • Sealing Packages With Custom, Holiday Tape
    Seal packaging boxes, even if they aren’t custom or seasonal, with festive tape. Even just a small nod to the holiday season makes both the gift-giver and receiver feel special. Arka offers clear, white, and tan custom tape to seal the holiday spirit into seasonal orders.
  • Personalizing Festive Packages With Handwritten Notes
    In today’s digital world, a personal touch goes a long way. Whether offering consumers the option to add a gift note with purchase or simply thanking the buyer for their support this holiday season, handwritten notes or similar inserts bring a nostalgic reminder of exchanging holiday cards during the festive season.
  • Focus On Inclusivity In Festive Designs And Seasonal Packaging

    Increasingly, as evidenced by social media polls and surveys, consumer sentiment over the holidays has shifted largely to one of inclusivity and non-denominational celebration. Whereas previous holiday packaging may have predominantly been the classic Christmas colors of red and green with images of Santa Claus, today’s global consumer wants packaging that reflects the vast array of celebrations across November, December, January, and February. Neutral wording can also be incorporated with this focus in mind – phrases like “Spring Edition” outlast specific occasions, such as Easter, extending shelf-life.

    Below are 17 examples of inclusive holiday designs that can be used in all packaging solutions:

    1. Minimalist, Winter Wonderland
    2. People Gathering For A Meal or By The Fire
    3. Snowflake Patterns
    4. Gifts Wrapped Up And Stacked
    5. Starry Nights
    6. Children Sledding
    7. Ski Scenes
    8. Winter Animals, like Polar Bears. Penguins, and Snowy Owls
    9. Glittery or Shimmering Effects
    10. Celebratory Balloons
    11. New Year Celebrations
    12. Blues, Whites, and Silvers
    13. Pine Cones, Berries, Holly, and Branches
    14. Woolen Mittens
    15. Hot Drinks, like Cocoa or Apple Cider
    16. Festive Ribbons and Bows
    17. Icons of Global Festivals, emphasizing Unity and Global Celebration

    Prioritizing Packaging Sustainability By Reusing Inventory And Adding Festive Upgrades

    Instead of purchasing new boxes or bags for the holidays, keep sustainability at the forefront and consider sprucing up existing inventory to add festive flair; below are easy additions to existing packaging that can help honor the holiday spirit.

    1. Twine
      Relatively inexpensive, using twine to tie up packages not only gives a rustic holiday feel, but ensures existing inventory isn’t wasted – keeping sustainability top-of-mind.
    2. Gift Tags
      Whether the consumer is buying for themselves or as a gift, adding gift tags into a mailer box or polymailer captures the gift-giving spirit of the holiday season.
    3. Stamps
      If shipping in cardboard boxes, then a simple yet effective addition is to invest in holiday-themed stamps; they can be used on either the exterior or interior (or both) of any existing packaging. 

    Effort And Intention Are What Consumers Care Most About

    While the aesthetics of festive packaging are vital, it's the thought and intention behind it that truly counts. Customers appreciate the effort brands put into making their holiday shopping experience special and understanding their gift-giving intentions. By approaching seasonal packaging with creativity, authenticity, and a deep understanding of the target audience, small e-commerce brands can make a significant impact without denting their budgets. As such, the design and production process should commence some two to six months in advance of the target holiday season, allowing for design iterations, sampling, and the inevitable unforeseen shipping delays. Achieving profitability isn’t at odds with achieving a unique, memorable customer experience.

    Don’t Think About The Holiday Season Just In Terms Of Sales

    The festive season is not just about sales; it's about connection, warmth, and spreading joy. As e-commerce brands, packaging is a (blank) canvas, and opting for festive packaging with a festive design, offers a unique opportunity to paint a picture that resonates deeply with each and every customer. 

    So, this holiday season, think outside (and inside) the box. Infuse parcels with festive flair, watch the magic unfold, and relish in the social sharing that seasonal packaging invites. 

    Happy holidays to one and all!

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