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4 Smarter Ways To Make Limited-Edition Packaging (From Brands You Love)

Looks matter and brands know that. In the wake of a global pandemic, the way consumers experience brands have been changing through product packaging. As such, there is now a golden opportunity for brands to release limited-edition packaging for that extra boost in sales.

Below are 5 proven strategies from brands we know and love on how to create seasonal or one-time product packaging that works:

1. Speak to a devoted fan base

The BTS Meal from McDonald’s is simple: create a special combo item that makes use of branding from the global K-Pop sensation on its packaging. When it launched in mid-2021, devotees of the South Korean boy band went crazy and naturally sales skyrocketed for McDonald’s.

But nothing about the actual food items in the meal was truly new – it consisted of Chicken McNuggets, special sauces, French Fries, and a Coke.

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Samsung actually hopped on the BTS train before McDonald’s (Source: Lowyat)

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Samsung actually hopped on the BTS train before McDonald’s (Source: Lowyat)

Not many brands can replicate this global blueprint of success, but many have still succeeded to do so on a smaller scale. Wherever there is fandom, brands have the opportunity to speak powerfully to fans through partnerships, especially when done through tasteful product packaging.

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Limited-edition Liverpool ‘Champions’ can by Carlsberg (Source: Carlsberg Group)

2. Offer personalization

The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign from Coca-Cola is a case study on the genius of simplicity and the power of speaking directly to your consumers.

By allowing folks to customize their Coke bottles with any name or occasion, customers become more engaged than ever with the brand not only on a personal level but within their social circles.

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Customize a Coke for anyone and for any occasion (Source: Coca-Cola)

It doesn’t take a brand the size of Coca-Cola to make customers feel directly addressed. Run a small boutique? Handwritten notes for each and every customer could do the trick. Perhaps what would work is also speaking and listening to customers to offer them personalized deals.

Operating a medium-sized business with larger order volumes? Partner with a local printing business to offer customized packaging, or even keep a database of their orders and tailor personalized deals for loyal customers.

3. Make it (pop culture) thematic

While it works to offer limited-edition packaging for specific fanbases, brands can take it a step further by running pop culture themes through their products and services not just to pique the interest of fans but to further underscore the key selling points of what they sell. Case in point: the Hello Kitty flight by EVA Air.

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EVA Air ‘Hello Kitty Sanrio Family’ Boeing 777 (Source: Simple Flying)

Fans of Hello Kitty aren’t in it for any other reason than the fact that it’s just cute and innocent – it’s a design they want to see everywhere.

As such, the Hello Kitty theme covers every single aspect of the EVA Air flight experience, from the boarding pass and flight check-in to the on-flight toilet paper. Yes, even the food features the face of the famous feline.

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Say hello to everything Hello Kitty (Source: Borders of Adventure)

Of course, thematic packaging doesn’t have to be so all-encompassing. Household brand Johnnie Walker released its limited-edition Game of Thrones Scotch whiskeys, catching the attention of collectors everywhere.

Based on the hit TV series adapted from the Song of Ice & Fire novel series, customers can choose between ‘A Song of Ice’ which offers a smooth, crisp flavor and ‘A Song of Fire’ which is smokier and spicier.

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A tasteful dual flavor from Johnnie Walker (Source: Food & Wine)

4. Timing matters

There’s a reason why brands can’t just whip up impressive looking designs and call it a day. When limited-edition packaging works, it’s because it is built upon a strong brand identity foundation.

Names like Coke, Samsung, McDonald’s, Hello Kitty, and Johnnie Walker already have distinct and memorable packaging, so any added flourish or color change would immediately stand out. Brands that are new or still figuring ‘who’ they are to consumers don’t have this luxury – it takes time, hard work, and some fortune for good measure.

For instance, The BTS Meal from McDonald’s was not a phenomenon by chance. The fast food giant was undergoing some major rebranding from years of losing its grip on the market before it found its footing with celebrity meals. First came Travis Scott, J Balvin, and Saweetie Meals – then BTS came along to help the brand make waves worldwide.

Love at first sight done right

To not judge a book by its cover is a rule that doesn’t always hold true. Well-made product packaging is not just icing on the cake – effective ones play a huge role in surprising, intriguing and delighting customers.

But it’s not always so simple. While some seasonal and one-time packaging designs flop, some succeed in making customers feel special or more in touch with something special. Brands that get it right garner strong engagement and sometimes leave their competitors in the dust.

Have there been other limited-edition product packaging that have impressed you? What are they?