Packaging Positions Honeybaked As More Than'The Ham Store'

August 1, 2005
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Packaging Positions Honeybaked As More Than‘The Ham Store’
By KATE BERTRAND
HoneyBaked equals ham, right? Well, yes and no. The HoneyBaked Ham Co. also sells many other meats and meal items. Communicating that to consumers, though, was a challenge the company faced as it retooled its lunch menu, repositioned its catering products and repackaged its Georgia Signature line of turkeys and roasts.
To formulate a new segmentation and positioning strategy—and to design packaging that would help consumers understand HoneyBaked Ham’s range of products—the company worked with Lipson Alport Glass & Associates (LAGA), the brand and identity consultancy.
Although consumers have been buying HoneyBaked hams for holidays and special occasions since 1957, many didn’t realize the company also had items for more informal get-togethers.
The company has “offerings that are perfect for a barbeque, others that are great for a dinner party, and still other items that you would pick up after work for your family when you don’t have time to cook,” explains Kimberly Orton, managing director of LAGA’s New York office. “When we started working with HoneyBaked Ham, it was about exploring how to communicate all those different things to their consumers while remaining under this umbrella called HoneyBaked Ham.”  
LAGA began by conducting a day-long brainstorming session with the company, industry experts and consumers to explore how consumers use prepared meals; to identify the need for complete high-quality, home-style meal options for various occasions; and to form ideas about everyday offerings.
The “Occasion Framework”
Using the results, LAGA created an “Occasion Framework” that identified three settings in which consumers use HoneyBaked products. These occasion categories were:
Formal: A holiday or special event, such as Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day or a wedding. The HoneyBaked Ham brand is used for these occasions.
Semi-formal: An elegant sit-down dinner or lunch. The Georgia Signature roasts are ideal for such occasions.
Casual: A backyard barbeque or a picnic at which food is served on paper plates. The lunch and catering offerings fall under the casual rubric.
LAGA went on to create what it calls a Master Brand Toolbox, which Orton describes as a visual articulation of the occasion categories. The Toolbox offers guidelines for color palettes, typography, photo styling and verbal associations, enabling all of HoneyBaked Ham’s advertising, promotional and design partners to create a unified look and feel for the packaging, point-of-purchase displays, print ads, catalogs and web sites for each category.
For example, the colors used for the casual products are bright; layouts are quirky and angular; fonts appear handwritten; and photos are shot in bright sunlight. The look and feel is festive.
In contrast, traditional typography and more subdued colors are used to position the formal and semi-formal HoneyBaked products. Photography on these packages might feature the product on a silver platter and candles on the table, and photos would be shot in subdued, indoor lighting.  
Toolbox guidelines were thoughtfully designed to work against the backdrop of HoneyBaked Ham’s retail stores. The company has 300 stores nationally; of those, 183 are affiliated with HoneyBaked Ham of Georgia, the division that engaged LAGA.
“In branding all these different offerings, it was about having people clearly understand that HoneyBaked Ham has a lot of products. It’s not just a ham store,” says Orton. The goal was to visually position the various occasion categories “so when people walked in the store, they would see lunch, dinner and catering offerings.”
Packaging the casual lines
With these tools in hand, HoneyBaked Ham focused on updating its lunch and catering lines. LAGA used a proprietary methodology, which evaluated criteria such as quality, convenience and appropriateness, to name the products as well. The lunch products were dubbed “Just for You” and the catering offerings were positioned as “Fare to Share”.
“The HoneyBaked brand is all about sharing and connecting, so that positioning worked really well,” says Debbie Domer, director of marketing with HoneyBaked Ham in Atlanta.
Because the lunch and catering offerings overlap, the Just for You and Fare to Share packages look the same, except for their logos. Imagery includes an illustration of a happy group of three: a HoneyBaked chef, a server and a customer eating a sandwich. The package colors are a vibrant yellow, orange and blue.
In contrast, the old lunch packaging was quite simple. It was printed in one color, and the only design elements were the HoneyBaked logo and some stripes.
“We had had that lunch packaging for 10 years,” says Domer, adding that HoneyBaked was updating its lunch menu at the time of the redesign. “We wanted to freshen up the packaging and make it more contemporary.”
Although HoneyBaked asked LAGA to also explore new structural designs, the company decided to stay with the same packaging structures for its lunch and catering products, redesigning only the graphic portion of the cups, bags, sandwich wraps and paperboard boxes.
The revamped lunch and catering packaging, in combination with HoneyBaked Ham’s other marketing, merchandising and menu efforts, has paid off handsomely. Since the repositioning and package redesign, the catering business “has had growth in the double digits,” says Domer. Just for You lunch sales have also continued to grow, she says.
Repackaging Georgia Signature
HoneyBaked Ham also asked LAGA to redesign the packaging for its Georgia Signature products. Among the offerings in this product line was The Ultimate Barbeque Pork Roast, which the company had been selling through its print catalog but decided to start selling in its retail stores. “To be merchandised in freezers and coolers on the sales floor, we needed attractive packaging for it,” Domer says.
LAGA did both graphic and structural design for the Georgia Signature pork roast, creating a heat-sealed bag printed with product photography, product information and brand identification. The shiny, royal blue bag is made from biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate (BOPET) polyester film.
HoneyBaked Ham and LAGA clearly had the pulse of the target market when it came to selecting which prospective package design to commercialize.
“We showed the designs to our customers to get their perspective on what would make them want to buy it. The one they overwhelmingly picked was the one LAGA and HoneyBaked Ham liked the most,” Domer recalls. “It validated our intuition.”  BP
The author, Kate Bertrand, is a San Francisco-based writer specializing in packaging, business and technology. Contact her at kate.bertrand@sbcglobal.net.
Where to go for more information...
Brand consulting and package design. At Lipson Alport Glass & Associates, contact Kimberly Orton at 212.486.3090 or korton@laga.com

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