As you learn more about effective marketing campaigns for limited-edition food products, understand:
- The benefits of this kind of marketing strategy
- Where this strategy has been most effective
- When it might be time to adjust your marketing strategy
Whether you have the best consumables on the market or not, you might encounter a period where marketing your food product is a struggle. Even with some of the most established brands, if everyone knows what your food tastes like, you can’t set yourself apart from the competition and draw in new customers as easily.
To fix this problem, many businesses have turned toward limited-edition marketing strategies that create a unique selling point, capture their core consumers, and target potential customers. By resurrecting beloved food items, like Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza, revamping a classic recipe, like Popeyes’ latest Strawberry Biscuits experiment, or creating something new altogether, these campaigns tap into a sense of scarcity like no other.
As established, limited-edition products are excellent at creating buzz that draws in old and new customers. While this generally applies to all companies selling a product, limited-edition marketing is even more significant in the food and beverage industry. Not only is it easy to excite consumers with nostalgic, intriguing, or provoking food and drink combinations, but it also plays on psychological elements that make people want to try it just to avoid “missing out on the fun.”
Take the infamous Unicorn Frappuccino, the viral drink Starbucks introduced in the spring of 2017. While commonly described as a bizarre, syrupy mix of sweet and sour flavors, that didn’t stop the colorful concoction from becoming a social media hit that quickly sold out at various chains nationwide and drove same-store sales up 4% within a month. While it wasn’t the most remarkable product taste-wise, it’s still remembered today for its bold and bright product packaging design that has never been seen again.
Marketing professionals use limited-edition food products for lots of other benefits as well, like how they:
- Generate positive press coverage and word-of-mouth marketing, helping to create buzz around the product
- Create opportunities for exclusive partnerships with influencers and other brands.
- Allow companies to test new flavors, ingredients, or packaging designs without fully committing to a long-term product
- Help companies tap into seasonal trends and capitalize on special occasions and holidays
- Enhance customer loyalty by rewarding consumers who act quickly and take advantage of limited-edition offerings
Without the careful food design that revamped the familiar frappuccino look, the Unicorn Frappe may not have been as successful. Learn more about the detailed food packaging design process.
To make the most out of a limited-edition campaign, timing is everything. If you’re trying to generate interest in a product over a short period, you need to be urgent and intentional about your messaging. A good rule of thumb is to plan around seasonal events, holidays, and even current events if necessary.
For example, many brands have succeeded in responding to social media trends where beloved menu items from decades ago—like McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce—suddenly garnered lots of attention and were requested en masse. By launching a product in direct response to an event and piggybacking off the hype surrounding it, these companies have successfully capitalized on a smart marketing move that quickly leads to an increase in sales.
More importantly, food and beverage brands should understand their target audience when planning for these launches. Are they millennials or Gen Z? Do they prefer Instagram or Facebook? Knowing who to reach and how to reach them is key.
While limited-edition marketing can be an excellent strategy, it’s not always the best approach for companies that want to increase market share and long-term brand loyalty. Depending on factors like the product’s cost, ingredients, or main customer base, going the seasonal route may result in a product that’s expensive for both the company, distributors (often grocery stores and individual stores), and the consumer.
For larger companies with more resources, investing in limited-edition products can be a worthwhile experiment. They can afford to take bigger risks and easily measure the return on their investment. For smaller companies with limited resources, however, it might be more beneficial to focus on marketing strategies that appeal to a broader consumer base while guaranteeing steady sales.
Overall, while limited-edition food products are often an effective marketing strategy, marketing teams should be cautious. Before diving headfirst into any campaign, companies should assess their audience, size, current strategy, financial capabilities, and more. This way, they can be cleared of the risks of the product being viewed as a gimmick or not landing well regarding taste or design.
Once these risks are accounted for, many brands can revitalize their image and experience long-term growth. After all, limited-edition strategies have been a core component of the food and beverage industry for decades, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Is your brand creating a new limited-edition food product? With DePersico Creative, your company can show off an eye-catching product packaging design that captivates consumers everywhere. Our family-owned design studio specializes in food and beverage product positioning, logo and package design, and much more.
See how we’ve helped businesses large and small launch successful products that have helped solidify their name in the industry.