Retro packaging: how making the old NEW helps retailers drive basket size

It doesn’t take a shopper marketing agency to know that all things vintage and retro have a voracious consumer base. And over the last couple of years, it seems as though consumer-product companies are hoping the appeal of earlier decades will carry over to more quotidian objects like cereal, chips, laundry detergent, and beverages.

The big CPG manufacturers like Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Hostess Brands, and PepsiCo are pulling old package designs out of their archives for brands like Tide, Cheerios and Doritos and bringing them back to store shelves.

The move is a U-turn from labels cluttered with specific claims like “easy pour spout” or “better tasting” to packaging that plays on the emotions. Over time, labels have gotten busier because computers allowed for complex designs and marketers wanted products to stand out on crowded shelves.

The retro movement is driven, in part, by consumer-goods companies feeling pressure from retailers’ private-label products, which are generally less expensive. When I asked Leslie Kraemer, the Creative Director of our Charlotte marketing agency about this trend, her take was this: “brands are saying, wait a minute, we invented that category, and we want to remind consumers which brand came first and is the most authentic.”

Manufacturers are also probably hoping to benefit from consumers’ generally sunny impression of the past and stand out in a sea of modern, glossy packaging.

The boxes you see above are part of Kellogg’s new (old) cereal box program available for a limited time at select Target stores nationwide. Packaging for Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies, Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops (celebrating their 50th anniversary) feature classic iconic artwork on the front of each box. Plus the back of the boxes highlights the history of each cereal along with (and who doesn’t love to read the back of a box of cereal over breakfast?).

The use of retro artwork is also found in the Kellogg’s licensing program. The market shows that in multiple categories, including apparel, housewares, and fashion accessories, vintage remains a big trend. This retro cereal program is part of three-week campaign that will be showcased in the grocery aisle end caps of 748 Target stores, as well as checkout lane end-caps in 1028 locations. And keep a look out for Kellogg’s licensed products which will continue to push the nostalgic trend at retailers nationwide and extend the brand into new categories.

With over 100 years of history, Kellogg’s graphic archives provide a lot of opportunities to develop vintage-inspired products.So next time you’re between the aisles, take a walk down memory lane and enjoy what used to be (like the P&G released limited-time retro versions of its Tide, Bounce and Downy brands).

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