How to Use Holiday Packaging to Win More Customers and Sales

This is a guest post by Beth Owens from

A business needs to start thinking about the holidays much earlier than their customers. But many brands don’t realize just how early the holidays can ‘begin’ in the age of retail. 

According to Facebook’s 2019 holiday shopping survey, just over 1 in 5 consumers in the United States start their holiday shopping in October. So, if your business doesn’t have its seasonal marketing prepped and ready, you are missing out on that first wave of holiday traffic! 

But it’s not too late for an addition to your festive toolkit – a branded holiday packaging design. In 2019, it’s not only multinational brands that can afford a seasonal packaging refresh. Low MOQs (Minimum Order Quantities) for custom packaging has made it possible for small and medium-sized retailers to benefit from this powerful seasonal marketing strategy.

Why Holiday Packaging is a Major Asset For Your Brand

1. It Fulfills an Important Need

When browsing for products, consumers are on the lookout for signs that a retailer understands their needs. During the holidays, the need is simple: convenience. It can be a busy and stressful time of year, and consumers are attracted to brands that simplify the gifting process.

Many retailers offer perks such as free shipping or easy returns. But this is growing more commonplace, making it increasingly difficult to stand out. Holiday packaging, on the other hand, offers brands a far more unique and value-added extra.

We all know that gift-wrapping is an integral part of the holidays. But as studies show, it’s not something that we necessarily enjoy. According to a survey by Virgin Trains, 67% of people cite wrapping presents as one of the most annoying parts of the holidays!

So, by taking this responsibility out of your customers’ hands, you become a much more viable option for their holiday spending! 

2. It Makes Your Goods More Appealing

We say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but this is exactly what most of us do when we go shopping! How a product looks plays a massive role in determining the desirability of a product. 

For us to want to pick something up off the shelf, it needs to be engaging. A whopping 7 in 10 consumers agree that packaging design influences their purchasing decisions.

This is why an attractive unboxing is integral to a positive customer experience. It adds value to a customer’s interactions with your brand and makes you far more memorable as a merchant.

This is especially important for branded retailers, whose product ranges are often curated from external suppliers. When you aren’t the only business selling a certain product, you need to give consumers a tangible reason to choose you over competitors. 

So, channeling a seasonally-appropriate design for your product packaging gives your brand a real edge during the holidays. It taps into our tendency to judge on visuals, which is even more heightened when we are surrounded by marketing imagery of beautifully-wrapped parcels! 

3. It Builds Brand Recall

The holidays are a massive source of revenue for every kind of retailer. Between 20 – 40% of annual revenue for small to medium-sized businesses is made during the last two months of the year! 

This means that during the festive season, there is stiff competition for consumers’ attention. But there has also never been more channels to engage them in. 

According to Deloitte, almost a quarter of consumers plan on using social media to assist them in their holiday shopping. Why? Because it’s the virtual version of window shopping on the high street – if something catches our eye, we will go in for a closer look.

Seasonal marketing is all about showing prospective customers that you are worth that second look. But you don’t just want them to develop an interest in a product – you want them to build a relationship with your brand. 

A branded holiday packaging design helps you to achieve this on several fronts. For one, It makes for compelling visual content that stands out on a feed. It also draws attention to key branding elements e.g. your brand name or logo, which helps to build brand recognition in consumers. In short, it’s an engaging value proposition that shows how your brand celebrates the season!

How Can You Give Your Packaging a Seasonal Refresh?

Holiday packaging design can be a bit intimidating to businesses with smaller budgets. Moreover, it may not be practical for you to revamp your entire packaging design temporarily. Here are some low-cost seasonal extras you can invest in to leverage that holiday traffic:

Custom tissue paper

This is a great way to create some fun branded gift wrap for the holiday season. It’s very lightweight and can easily be used to wrap a variety of different-shaped products. Using custom tissue to line the inside of a gift box is also a great way to give an item a more premium look!

Custom stickers

Stickers are one of the most versatile packaging elements available to businesses. As well as using them to decorate the outside of packages or seal the edges of gift wrap, you can also give them away as a freebie to customers! Because stickers create a strong focal point in your holiday packaging design, this makes them a great place to print important brand details.

Custom tape

Custom-printed boxes don’t always suit the needs of small businesses, as MOQs tend to be very high. Designing some festive-themed custom tape is a highly cost-effective way to liven up plain cardboard boxes or mailers. When you need tape to seal up boxes anyway, it’s a smart investment! 

Gift Tags

Since your customers are likely buying gifts for loved ones, including a gift tag with your orders is a big help! A branded gift tag offers even more benefits, as it helps to build brand recognition in both your customer and their gift recipient!

Handwritten notes

Putting thank-you notes inside your packages is a great practice at any time of year, but it’s especially appropriate during the holidays. A short message with some seasons greetings makes receiving an order much more personal. This is an area where small businesses trump big brands every time. You can show customers that there is a person lovingly putting together each order, as opposed to it being mass-produced in a factory setting!

Quick Holiday Packaging Design Tips

Non-traditional seasonal designs will help your brand to stand out

A successful holiday packaging design isn’t one that uses generic seasonal imagery – it’s when a brand has put its own spin on the holidays. This is much more unique and memorable to consumers, and ensures that important brand elements aren’t lost in your refresh.

For example, when reds, greens, and metallics make up the usual seasonal color palette, choosing something different will really stand out!

This custom tissue paper by Boxx Kids channels a festive mood with its hand-drawn tree design, while the purple gives it a more modern twist.

Less is More

It’s tempting to go all out when it comes to seasonal packaging, but including too many elements can look cluttered and confusing. If you are trying to build brand recognition, your customers won’t know where to focus their attention. It also gets expensive, both in terms of supplies and postage!

Minimalism is still trending in packaging, so bringing this into your holiday design will help to create a classy and timeless look. This striking monochrome example by BLK Sheep Creative evokes that cozy feeling of being home for the holidays!

Think sustainably

As enjoyable as the holidays are, they also have a dark side. There is an extra one million tons of waste thrown away each year between Thanksgiving and New Year, a 25% increase on the rest of the year. Much of this waste is in the form of packaging – gift boxes, ribbons, and cellophane wrapping. Most commercially-produced gift wrap is also laminated, making it unrecyclable. 

Retailers have a responsibility not to pass this waste onto their customers. In a time where consumers have never been more conscious about sustainability, this approach looks increasingly tone-deaf.

Instead, focus on maximizing the use of renewable materials, such as paper and cardboard, and cutting out plastic wherever possible. It’s also important to use correctly-sized containers – packaging filler creates a huge amount of waste that can be easily avoided.

Ask your customers to share it!

Half the power of holiday packaging comes from the online marketing opportunities it presents. Encouraging customers to share images of their parcels on social media is a brilliant seasonal strategy to get some traction during the holidays. 

Why? Because consumers are 90% more likely to buy from a brand that is recommended by someone they know! This viral form of word of mouth marketing is especially relevant during the holidays, as we all scramble to find gifts. To boost your exposure, consider creating a branded holiday hashtag and pairing it with some kind of giveaway. It’s an easy way to create community on your online channels,

The pioneers of this strategy? Starbucks. Their holiday cup designs have become an iconic symbol of the holiday season for many consumers. The annual release of the new design is eagerly awaited by Starbucks fans (there is even a countdown website) and customers are encouraged to share images of their drink with the #holidaycups to celebrate the season.

This is a very easy way to create community on your online channels, and to spread some festive cheer!

The bottom line

Holiday packaging doesn’t just enhance the appearance of your products – it also provides a valuable service to your customers. It’s these kinds of interactions that consumers will remember long after the festive season is over. 

Merchants mustn’t think of the holidays just as a seasonal jump in sales – the key to long-term success is transforming holiday traffic into repeat business. If you play your cards right, holiday packaging can positively impact your business into the new year and beyond!

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.