Bumble Bee Tuna Influences Customers with Typically Unused Packaging “Real Estate”

Packaging is an essential part of the marketing mix and can make a difference (good or bad) in customer presentation and impact, including B2B products.

From the start, marketers and business teams should consider and apply a holistic packaging approach. Structural packaging is what type of format or container will house your product: box, can, pouch, glass, etc. Packaging graphics are the design, words and images that go on the selected structural medium.

(For more of my commentary on the importance and strategic use of packaging in marketing, go to the Blog Archive and click on the Packaging category.)

During my last supermarket shopping, I noticed new packaging graphics for the Bumble Bee brand of canned tuna. This change jumped out to me because the marketing team cleverly used a typically overlooked portion of the can: the top lid. Taking advantage of that packaging “real estate” provides Bumble Bee with an added opportunity to highlight its nutrition, wild caught and sustainability benefits.

Think about it. Most canned products do not utilize the top lid for packaging communication. That space is seemingly always empty, perhaps for cost and/or logistical reasons. However, to their credit, the Bumble Bee team took advantage of printing technology to print multicolor graphics on the lid that reinforce key brand message points.

Most canned products do not utilize the top lid for #packaging communication. The @BumbleBeeFoods team took advantage of that open “real estate” with multicolor graphics to reinforce key #brand message points. Via @hchimoff #marketing

The canned tuna packaging change is part of a total Bumble Bee portfolio packaging refresh that was announced last year and has been rolling out across all the SKUs. (Note: packaging changes, especially for consumer products, can take a long time to be “phased in” on shelf across channels and at individual stores.)

Bumble Bee’s packaging project brief, according to its design agency Bex Brands, was: “With a recent surge of other shelf-stable seafood brands, they needed to make slightly more drastic changes to engage new customers, who are interested in sustainable seafoods with more adventurous flavors in convenient formats.” Further: “We retired their bee character, Horatio and replaced him with a lighthouse, symbolizing Bumble Bee as a beacon for it’s sustainable, delicious seafood offerings.”


Harvey Chimoff is a customer-focused global business leader who connects marketing across the organization to drive performance and achieve business objectives. His B2B and CPG marketing expertise includes agribusiness, ingredients and food and beverage. Contact him at harveychimoff.com.

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