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27 August 2019

Spring Fling – which emerging packaging trends and brand strategies proved to be a big deal over Valentine’s Day and Easter 2019?

We’re back with another insightful audit. This time we’re gleaning it all from the first major gift-giving holidays of the year…


With every season comes a holiday… and with every holiday, there’s a raft of fascinating packaging industry trends just waiting to be researched, collated and analysed by the Equator team.

This Spring we tackled the double whammy, first Valentine’s Day, which arrived to bolster our love and lust; swiftly followed by Easter, which brought us the essence of joy, familial warmth, and renewal.

Our audits on each of these holidays yielded a wealth of insights, covering factors including: this year’s demand for goods, YOY sales results, colour palettes and developments, brand responses to shifting political and social beliefs, illustrative approaches, POS strategies, private brand and high-street brand comparisons, campaigns, promotions and more…


If it sounds like a pretty thorough audit, we can promise… it certainly is!


Why audit holidays?

Here at Equator, we use every tool possible to gain insight into packaging trends, and this includes examining the elements seen in seasonal food packaging each year. Not only does this help us to gauge what’s achieving the greatest shelf standout (and best sales figures) but it also helps to inform our designs when that season comes around again.

A holiday can create a prime opportunity for brands to assert their short-term visual identities and, by using packaging that’s more colourful and more exciting, achieve greater on-shelf standout, demanding greater customer engagement.


Valentine’s Day insights – UK

According to Mintel, spending on experiences rose to 32% – four percentage points over last year – suggesting that doing something is becoming more popular than gifting a new possession. While just 38% of UK shoppers planned to participate in the holiday this year, 40% of those were expecting to spend more than last year.

Last year’s Christmas season saw many well-known retailers struggle to present consistent styles, relying on unoriginal, overused styles and approaches. Valentine’s Day 2019 again saw several of the UK’s major retailers missing the opportunity to employ consistent merchandising themes, resulting in a disjointed look. However, a small number of supermarkets proved adept at displaying consistent special occasion branding, utilising vibrant photography and original fonts and illustrations – from signage, brochures and POS messaging to the product face itself.    

In terms of colour, many high-street retailers have moved away from the bold red hues in favour of a more muted, sophisticated palette, ranging from crimson to claret.

Based on the insights provided by our full Valentine’s Day report, we’ve made a range of predictions about which strategies and styles will come to the fore next year. To learn more about our Valentine’s Day 2020 projections, contact Ed Holden on at


Easter insights – US and UK

In the US, consumers planned to spend approximately $151 per person this year, and despite a very slight drop in spending, spring consumer activity heralded a positive year for US retailers. A holiday for all age groups, Easter plans for most Americans meant visiting friends and family, cooking a meal or going to church. Many planned to browse the internet or open gifts. (We have a regional breakdown if of interest!).

Egg cups, egg cartons and buckets have emerged as popular containers, while animal-shaped boxes (mostly bunnies and chicks) are still a firm favourite. And while the pastel colour palette still dominates, a handful of major retails are opting for more vibrant options, including Trader Joe’s and Macy’s.

In the UK the number of shoppers on the high street increased by almost a fifth on Good Friday compared with the same bank holiday in 2018, according to Springboard.

A chocolate teapot from Waitrose and a flat-pack bunny from Ikea scored points for originality and fun, while Cadbury again partnered with the National Trust, this year delivering 260 Easter Egg Hunts in parks and gardens across the nation. Fortnum & Mason tried to go cluck wild with its traditional-looking Henny Penny products, while Tesco advanced its tiered approach with a whimsical unicorn as part of its core offering, simultaneously presenting a range of luxurious ‘Finest’ chocolate eggs for more refined palates.


So what’s coming next Easter in the UK and US?

Again, we’re keeping our predictions mostly under wraps, but we will say that no matter how contentious the US campaign trail becomes, or the waves created by Brexit, consumers will still be relying on spring-themed love, renewal – and of course, chocolate – to get us through it. Our trend research has also hinted that we heading towards a heightened appreciation of nature-related themes, too.

While those are all the insights we’re prepared to divulge at this point, our full reports with projections on just what Valentine’s Day and Easter 2020 have in store are now available. Simply contact Ed Holden at to find out how to get your hands on them.