Unfortunately, Internet Explorer is an outdated browser and we do not currently support it.
To have the best browsing experience, please use Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Safari.
This is a self-funded case study using our Packaging Testing solution.
When lunchtime arrives for children across America, Lunchables are the ultimate MVP. The pre-packaged meals have been a favorite in cafeterias for decades, with busy parents and kids alike savoring the convenience and taste of the simple yet versatile build-your-own options.
However, in 2022, it was the turn of the brand’s packaging to undergo a rebuild. Amongst a raft of updates included a refreshed logo, enhanced use of color to distinguish variants, and increased visibility of nutritional information.
But perhaps the most striking aspect of the redesign was the use of miniature characters boldly exploring enormous representations of food items within the pack. By leaning into the interactive way children experience the product, these playful characters embarking on an adventure were intended to not only boost on-shelf presence, but also emphasize the brand’s fun and imaginative personality.
We were keen to see if the use of characters and pseudo-storytelling was able to build positive emotion and enhance the brand’s personality. Using our 3Cs methodology, we tested the new Lunchables packaging against the incumbent to find out.
The new design’s clearer variant distinction and playful characters brought a level of originality to the packaging, with the cute narratives built around the product’s ingredients sparking curiosity. While the previous packaging didn’t have the same level of shelf cut-through, it was nonetheless likeable — testament to the brand’s longstanding reputation as a trusted option for kid’s lunchboxes.
While the new design’s busier aesthetic may have initially seemed a mile away from the previous pack’s much simpler approach, upon closer examination the redesign still leveraged familiar cues (including stackable ingredients) which enabled the brand to be easily recognized. Likewise, the consistent color scheme for each flavor combination further reinforced recognizability. Lastly, even with the logo undergoing a significant overhaul — in an effort to contemporize the brand in a playful way — it remained synergistic with the brand’s established identity.
In a big win for the redesign, the playful narratives and added callouts strengthened important purchase drivers while not sacrificing existing associations. Perceptions of convenience and taste remained consistent between the two designs, but the redesign alleviated some of the concerns around health (albeit Lunchables still weren’t considered a ‘healthy’ option overall). By simultaneously conveying a sense of fun, the pack tapped into higher order emotional benefits — driving much greater affinity toward the product than its predecessor.
Lunchables' focus on emotional impact provides a reminder of the important role packaging plays as a communications vehicle. Without the advantages inherent in audio visual communications (think music, spoken narratives, or emotional peaks), a pack’s ability to convey emotional sentiments is often overlooked. However, the task certainly isn’t impossible — as Lunchables proved.
The characters’ cute adventures presented the product in a simple yet engaging way, adding a fun and creative dimension to the brand. Most importantly, though, by linking the product’s interactive nature to these playful themes, Lunchables delivered a sense of relatability — strengthening the emotional attachment to a multi-generational product. It’s a reminder, again, that the brand’s only “always on” communications channel shouldn’t be relegated to exclusively delivering functional messaging.