MoonPie Updates Packaging
MoonPie, the iconic Southern brand of marshmallow cookie sandwiches, hits store shelves across America this month with a new package design already generating solid sales growth in select accounts, according to a company news release.
“It had been nearly two decades since MoonPie made a major change to its packaging, so this was an important decision with strategic implications for our company,” said Tory Johnston, VP of marketing at Chattanooga Bakery Inc. “It was time to take an honest, fresh look and to further distinguish our brand for a new generation of consumers.”
This decision to distinguish MoonPie began with the packaging of MoonPie’s ever popular, top selling Minis—which were the first of the product line to receive the new package design. Johnston engaged The Goldstein Group, based in New York, N.Y., and challenged them to: “Create a fabulously fresh look for Chattanooga Bakery’s No. 1 selling product—MoonPie Minis—that plays up the brand’s heritage in an authentic way.”
“The feedback on MoonPie’s previous color combination was that it didn’t set them apart when you saw it on the shelf,” said Terri Goldstein, CEO of The Goldstein Group. “When we did a competitive analysis we observed the blue and white package themes playing prominent roles in the snack cake and cookie categories across many leading brands.”
These “visual cue” observations and the differentiating factors of the new design for MoonPie also were confirmed in the verbatim comments from focus groups.
The Goldstein Group’s analysis and research led the design team to determine the best way to retain the celestial theme MoonPie was known for while contemporizing a nostalgic Southern brand—all the while differentiating MoonPie from its neighbors on the shelf. A secondary goal was to better differentiate the three sizes—Mini, Double-Decker and Single-Decker.
The new MoonPie packaging was completely overhauled with an emphasis on a darker, “midnight sky” blue accented with whimsical lighter blue swirls—all creating a unique, fresh look when compared to MoonPie’s competitors. White cloud-like art was used to convey the fluffy texture of marshmallow while adding depth to the graphic; small white stars complete the night-sky feel—and new size-specific badges call more attention to size.
“We love how the new packaging celebrates the night sky, overtly plays up the ‘moon’ part of MoonPie, and also transforms the white—which holds big brand equity for us—into a fluffy cloud,” said Johnston.
Johnston added that, while the design was heartily accepted in consumer research, there was considerable thought and discussion about the actual product shot of the MoonPie on the package. In the past the company had worked hard to photograph the product to ensure it was real.
“The hero shot is probably the thing The Goldstein Group had to work hardest to persuade us to reconsider,” said Johnston.
The Goldstein Group insisted another approach was needed to convey the textures of the pie’s rich coating, crumbly graham cookies, and light marshmallow filling. The result was the creation of a digital illustration that accentuates and highlights the appetite appeal better than traditional photography.
The resulting illustration, said Johnston, “has great taste appeal.”
There’s also a practical benefit.
“From a printing standpoint, a digital rendering wins because it prints clearly and consistently,” he added
“It is nice to see consumers are responding favorably to the new look and feel,” said Johnston.