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'You don’t change packaging lightly': Gregg's spices up its look

Ill-conceived packaging rebrands have been known to cost brands millions in lost revenue. So, why is Gregg's taking the risk by changing the look of its herbs and spices? And what is it doing to ensure the change isn't added to the canon of catastrophes?

By Erin McKenzie | November 17, 2017 | news

Gregg's has rolled out a bold new look for its herbs and spices packaging that draws inspiration from spice bazaars and fresh herb gardens to deliver a sense of flavour and freshness.

The once-white boxes featuring a small image of the herb or spice inside are now covered in colourful close-up images of the herb or spice in its whole form.

Brand manager of food, Antica Soljan says while the old design was still enjoyed by customers, it wanted to inject inspiration and a contemporary feel into the packs.

"Our overarching goal is to act in a way that inspires consumers to use more herbs and spices,” says Soljan.

“Currently, a lot of consumers are only visiting the herbs and spices shelves with a replacement mindset. We want them to see herbs and spices as part of their meal solution, an easy and delicious way of adding flavour and diversity to their everyday meals."

Changing the packaging seems a natural step for the brand to take when looking for customers to reappraise the product, but Byron Sharp, a professor of marketing science at the University of South Australia and author of How Brands Grow, identifies packaging changes as one of the most common mistakes businesses make with brand strategy as it can reduce a brand’s ability to be noticed.

To support his argument, he uses the example of Tropicana orange juice that suffered a 20 percent drop in sales after changing its logo. With the drop costing the brand tens of millions of dollars, the new packaging was scrapped after less than two months on the shelf.


Image from Mumbrella

Not wanting to find itself in the same boat, Gregg's maintained some familiar features, including the red Gregg’s label in the top left corner and the box as the packaging itself. When on the supermarket shelf, that box serves as a key differentiator between Gregg’s and its competitor MasterFoods that packs its herbs and spices in jars.

But, knowing the familiar red label and box might not quite be enough to get people to reach for Gregg’s without having to search first, it brought in FCB.

 FCB’s group account director Toby Sellers says packaging is particularly important for FMCG brands because when people go into the supermarket, they’re often shopping on autopilot.

“They look for the packaging that they know and the worst thing you can do is make it hard for them to find your brand,” says Sellers.

“You don’t change packaging lightly.”

Adding a dash of difference

With that in mind, the campaign FCB created, called 'A dash of difference', is designed to make people aware of the new packaging as well as reappraise the product in the hope of picking up new customers.

To do that, it includes a series of Facebook videos featuring Chelsea Winter showing how Gregg’s herbs and spices can be added to food to give it an extra kick of flavour.

FCB head of PR and Hive Angela Spain explains that while herbs and spices could be considered a product for chefs, or those interested in cooking, Gregg’s is for everyday household shoppers so it wanted to ensure the campaign made it accessible and that’s where Winter came in.

As a leading cookbook author, she’s a familiar face but she’s also relatable and the food she cooks is family-friendly and easy to follow.

“We looked at a few different talent options, but the ones who said things like 'grate the turmeric' were not relatable to our everyday cooks,” says Spain.

The agency’s research found people tend to have a tight repertoire of meals, between five and 10, that people rotate week to week in part due to familiarity and ease, but also the risk of straying from their comfort zone. People fear that trying something new might result in failure, embarrassment and a waste of ingredients.

That finding was supported by behavioural economics that shows it’s much easier to get someone to make one small change rather than a big one or many. It’s that research that drove the decision to have Winter use the herbs and spices with already popular and easy recipes.

And as well as her familiar face, Winter also gave the campaign reach through her Facebook page’s 358,000 followers.

The content was shared on Winter’s page in branded content collaborations, a new tool that allowed Gregg’s to track engagement and monitor feedback. It gave Gregg’s the ability to track the engagement on the content, whereas in the past this was a limitation of the platform when working in partnership with influencers. Spain says this has it worked really well.

Meanwhile, on Gregg’s Facebook page, there’s a series of short videos featuring the new packaging interacting with the product inside, like an exploding box of paprika and a turmeric box playing hide and seek behind a pile of turmeric.

Offline and out of the home, adshels featuring images of the new packages are used to intercept shoppers on the way to the supermarket, and that continues to instore with carefully placed promotions where purchase decisions are made.

Sellers explains that when people are shopping, they generally decide on their protein and vegetable for a meal first before heading around to collect items to make up the meal so it’s placed the new Gregg’s packages in the vegetables and meat sections with suggestions about which herbs and spices go with the different items.

Past learnings

With Gregg’s having been a client of FCB for over 20 years, this is not the first time the agency has worked to inspire Kiwis to inject some more flavour into their meals.

In 2011, the agency worked on a campaign called ‘Triple Love’ that encouraged Kiwis to use a combination of different herbs and spices to create a different flavour experience and prior to that was a campaign about freestyle cooking that aimed to liberate people to experiment with their cooking by throwing different herbs and spices in.

They're a similar approach to the 'Make Dinnertime Matter' campaign Masterfoods rolled out this year.

While the previous Gregg's campaigns, like 'A dash of difference', were designed to encourage Kiwis to mix up their comfortable, small repertoire, they provided some lessons for future campaigns.

Sellers says those campaigns were successful, but they taught FCB that it had to simplify its approach to suit consumer's cooking behaviour and that was another consideration it had when deciding to show the product added to already popular and easy recipes.

A package deal

While the approach to this campaign was simpler than campaigns before it, there was still a lot of creative assets to be produced and that in itself proved a challenge for an FMCG brand that has to spend so much of its budget on the retail channel.

Looking at the top 30 advertising spenders each year for the last three years, it’s a proven trend as the retailers outweigh the FMCG companies both in spend and appearances on the list. Between October 2016 and September 2017, L'Oreal ($17,219,358), Colgate-Palmolive Ltd ($20,246,238), Nestle NZ Ltd (25,012,179), Unilever Australasia ($32,506,351) and Reckitt Benckiser NZ ($61,000,103) were the only FMCG companies to make the list. The highest spend was Harvey Norman’s $77,962,699.

It’s those same FMCG brands that appear on the top 30 lists from the previous two years as well as Mars New Zealand. Cerebos Gregg's did not make any of the lists.

That tight budget is further challenged in the online world and shifting investment into digital channels. On social media, brands need to be timely, responsive and producing content that represents the quality of the brand its promoting, all while ensuring that there’s enough to maintain media presence as a post might only last between one day and one week.

And it’s not as simple as cutting up a TVC to run on social because people won’t engage with it in the same way or might not watch it at all.

Spain says brands don’t want to spend thousands on something that’s only going to be there for a few days and responding to those changes, FCB has created The Hive.

It’s an agile content service teams that allows clients to develop, produce and deliver audiovisual and static content fast and cost-effectively.

“Toby and his team will come to us and say, ‘we are doing this campaign and this is the list of things we need to do, what of this list can you produce?’,” says Spain. “The answer is: ‘we can produce all of it and we will find a way how and we will do it for the right budget’.”

For Gregg’s, that offering allowed it to have all the components of its campaign made within its budget and also in line with its strategy.

"There are a lot of shops out there that can shoot content, there are guys with cameras who can edit and shoot content, but where we are different is we are plugged straight into the strategy."

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