Saturday, May 16, 2015


Out with the old and in with the new
As usual, I'm in a hurry as I fly down the frozen food aisle, jerking my grocery buggy to a halt in front of the familiar glass case from which I've plucked my low-calorie lunch of choice a thousand times before.

Intending to grab a few of my favorite flavors and run, my hand freezes in mid-air.

Wait. Whoa, Nellie. What's this? In place of the white boxes with the orange curly-cue logo I've been purchasing for the past few years, there's a stack of strange brown logo-less boxes I don't recognize.

Grrrr. Who moved my cheese?

But upon further inspection, I see that this is, after all, the very same product I'm seeking. Same only different.

The food looks the same and has the same nutritional listings. But it's in a new box. With a completely new look. About 180 degrees from the way it used to look.

So why do companies repackage products? Even tried and true products?

A few obvious reasons include a desire to:
  • Revamp their image
  • Attract a new or wider audience
  • Update their look 

A recent example is the Motorola cell phone, which after years on the market was redesigned to appear more like a fashion statement. Indeed, sort of like a  piece of jewelry. Why? Because women are their proven primary market and women, as you know, are interested in fashion.

(Hey, why don't they think chocolate here? I'd buy a new cell phone if it looked and smelled like a Cadbury bar.)

Similarly, Johnson & Johnson felt that Rembrandt toothpaste needed a cleaner, fresher look, so they simplified, using the same tube but changing the packaging from a word-cluttered, color-splashed spectacle to a plain white box that opens from the top like a gift. A gift to yourself.

Have these changes made a difference in sales? The jury's still out, but early indicators are quite positive.

Books do the same thing for the same reasons. 

I've made a game out of  looking up a certain historical romance each time I've enter a bookstore for the past few years because the gal on the book cover has on a different colored dress every time I see her. That chick has the most extensive wardrobe of any one-dimensional woman I know.

Because of a simple change - same dress, different color - that book has had as many lives as a Manx. Other books may come and go from bookstore shelves within three months, six months, one year, but that one's taken up residence and doesn't appear to be going anywhere any time soon.

I understand the red dress has been the hands-down bestselller. Hmm. Not really hard to guess why.

Last year the publisher of three of my early books decided on repackaging for the same reasons listed above. You  may have already seen the remakes of my historical novels, The Distant Shore and Billowing Sails, but the finalized cover for Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers has recently been released.

I'd love to share it with you now (see above).

I think repackaging is generally a good idea and an effective marketing tool, but some argue that occasionally it causes confusion and consumer irritation ("Why change a good thing?" "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.")

So what do you think? I'd love to hear your feedback.


cherylbethjohnston said...

I love the new covers, Deb, and I liken book repackaging to updating the decor in your home or moving some of those out-of-style clothes in your closet over to the consignment shop. A fresh look captures (or recaptures) attention. I can imagine these books will have new life, too! Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

It irritates me. I'm a traditionalist.
What book does the girl change clothes? You've piqued my interest.