Limited editions: What do they deliver for beverage brands?


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The festive period is an incredibly special time for consumers, retailers and not least of all brands: a number of which offer up their own version of Christmas spirit through seasonal varieties and limited-edition products. But do they support brand value? In this guest article, Danielle Jackson, strategic planner at Zeal Creative, looks at what limited editions can deliver.

Before jumping in, there’s a distinction to make between ‘seasonal classics’ and ‘limited editions’. The first is a core product that has relevance and association with a specific time of year and is often embedded into people’s traditions – think Bailey’s at Christmas.

‘Limited editions’ meanwhile are available for an exclusive period, or up-to a certain number of products. These products often incorporate an element nodding to the seasonality – think Coca Cola Cinnamon​, IRN BRU CrimboJuice​, or Bottlegreen’s WinterSpiced Berry​.

The importance of seasonal limited editions

Seasonal occasions are often saturated with activity from brands trying to make the most of the period. And it’s not only the brands that are busy, as retailers strive to be the retailer of choice. Essentially both brand and retailer are vying for standout amongst shoppers.

This is where limited editions show their worth; supporting the retailer’s aim, the brand and overall shopper engagement.

Supporting the retailer

Here limited editions work wonders as they help brands excite retailers and keep them engaged.

The brand can build further excitement, for instance with accompanying shopper communications that create more shopper engagement in store. This can support retailers in their efforts to become the destination retailer of choice.

It also helps unlock incremental space in store, driving extra sales of the product.

Building brand equity

Seasonal occasions can be an intensely saturated period for brand activity. All competing to get onto shoppers’ radars and into baskets. Limited editions can help brands poke their head above the water and stand out during a competitive period.

Most shoppers aren’t brand loyal and purchase within a repertoire. Limited editions can give your audience a reason to choose you this time, thanks to offering something they can’t get from the competition. 

Shopper engagement

Shoppers often default toward an autopilot way of shopping, and day-to-day brands face challenges to nudge them toward their products. Limited editions can tempt them, offering the promise of ‘specialness’ to infuse into their occasion.

What’s more, engagement with the brand and consumption of the drink can help to build new memory structures between the brand and the occasion.

Encouraging shopper purchase of a special edition now could mean next time they come to buy for the occasion, your brand comes into consideration.

The alternatives to limited editions

Alternative efforts can also support the brand during these periods, but they don’t necessarily deliver the same benefits.

For instance, online experiences can help to drive associations with the particular occasion, but they can be a step away from the shoppers’ actual point of purchase, meaning the brand has an extra hurdle to make it into basket.

Seasonal shopper promotions certainly help to engage shoppers, though, if the product is completely unrelated to the season, the creative will have to work hard to make up for this and resonate.

Another alternative is seasonal personalisation opportunities on core ranges.

Personalisation has continued to grow with numerous grocery brands tapping into this opportunity. One of the most famous is Coca-Cola’s named cans.

Now Coke is offering shoppers the chance to personalise Coca-Cola Zero Sugar cans, in partnership with homelessness charity Crisis. This effort sees Coke tap into the giving sentiment that comes with Christmas, with the brand donating £2 to Crisis for every can sold.

coca-cola crisis cans jpeg

The result makes shoppers feel good for taking part and increases positive feelings towards the brand. Clearly this isn’t just personalisation at Christmas, it’s personalisation with an impact.

Not just for Christmas, Halloween or Summer

It’s worth considering that benefits limited editions are not restricted to seasonal moments.

Relevant news events can be tapped into. When Liverpool won the Premier League, Carlsberg’s ‘Champions Can’ garnered media attention and communicated the brand as a great supporter of the club and game.

Brand achievements let brands create their own moment-in-time. Johnny Walker Blue Label is highlighting a personal milestone birthday with a 200th Anniversary limited-edition bottle design, communicating the brands’ impressive heritage.

And finally, partnerships can be prime for limited editions. Bollinger released a limited-edition 007 Gift Pack to mark the upcoming film, benefitting from their partnership aligning the brand with the stylish characteristics of James Bond.

Limited editions can deliver

Danielle Jackson

Limited editions have a lot to offer, supporting the brand, the retailer and the shopper. But good execution is crucial.

At the right time, with the right product, and proper support, limited editions can do much more for brands than perhaps first thought.

About ZEAL Creative: ​As a UK brand activation marketing agency specialising in FMCG, ZEAL Creative delivers campaigns for brands including Kellogg’s, Pringles, KitKat, McCain and Warburtons. ZEAL ranked 40th​​ overall in The Drum’s Top 100 Independent Agencies 2019 and scooped seven awards at the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) 2019 Awards in Europe. The agency has also been ranked 47th​​ in Campaign’s annual list of the ‘Best UK Agencies to Work for 2020’.

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