The fine art of showing off a vacuum-packed product
It’s not exactly headline news, but Americans do happen to like avocados. According to the USDA, Americans’ consumption of the enormous green berry has tripled over the past 20 years, and now every citizen of the land will eat over 8 pounds of avocado this year. This past weekend, amid the preparation for Labor Day cookouts and picnics, Americans bought $54 million worth of avocados—a 6% increase over last year, pandemic be damned.
Of the 2.6 billion pounds of avocados that we’ll all scarf down this year, much of it will be in the form of guacamole—and that’s good news for Wholly Guacamole, the MegaMex-owned brand that claims to have originated the refrigerated guac segment. But as it was revamping its packaging as part of its latest marketing campaign (“All Real. No Drama,” it’s called), headquarters had a problem.
The main selling point for guac is its freshness—that rich green, chunky look that you get when the server mashes up the avocados in a molcajete at better Mexican restaurants. But as every guac fan knows, the stuff has a tendency to look nasty in a hurry, a problem only compounded when the product is made in advance.
Fortunately for Wholly, the brand had already pioneered a high-pressure process that removes all the air from the container, so the batch doesn’t oxidize and turn brown. But that alone didn’t address the issue of how to show the guac to customers and let its visual appeal do the selling.
This was one of the challenges facing the Chase Design Group, which recently completed the packaging overhaul. The refresh contains many of the elements you’d expect from a container refresh: some adjustments to the typeface, a bit of color tweaking. But the biggest change that Chase made was finding a way to let the guac market itself.
“Previously they were not showing the guacamole,” said Chase’s senior art director Dave Carlino. Well, not really showing it, anyway. The old paper box featured a triangular die-cut window that gave consumers a tiny peek at the container of guac inside, but that wasn’t working so well. The window was too small to start with, “and, as with any vacuum-packed food, it’s not going to look its best if you see it through a window,” Carlino said. “It will look flat and smushed. You don’t see the texture.”
Chase’s solution was fairly dramatic: Nix the window completely, turn the box into a belly band, and let the protruding sides of the bowl display two generous glimpses of the guac. The effect, Carlino said, “was definitely a surprise. Showing the bowl increased the appeal tremendously.”
Meanwhile, Chase used the real estate on the band to show a serving-suggestion photo of the guac, getting rid of some of the renderings and buzzwords that had taken up that space previously in favor of a more visual presentation.
“People can really get a better feel for how it is [now],” said Diana Pusiri, Wholly Guacamole’s senior brand manager. “In the box before, it was covered. The only place you could see it was that little triangle. We wanted to convey freshness, so we opened it up a lot more.”
Subtler adjustments to the packaging included replacing ordinary category names with phrases that better matched the playfulness of the brand name, so the “Classic” variety became “Keep it Classic,” while “Spicy” turned into “Make it Spicy,” and so on. Chase pumped up the desaturated colors and got rid of the crumbling effect that that former typeface had worn for reasons wholly unknown.
The finishing touch was the sort of thing that package designers can’t resist. Chase fashioned the letter “o” in Wholly out of an avocado pit. “Graphically, it was a no-brainer,” Carlino said. “We thought it was pretty clever.”
And it was in keeping with the secondary mandate of the revamp—to remind shoppers that the brand isn’t just fresh, it also possesses a sense of humor. After all, at day’s end it’s just a dip for chips. “We wanted the package to set us apart from the competition,” Pusiri said. “And we’re really trying to convey our personality.”