Kleenex Goes Fruity for Summer


It’s a lesson in classic brand marketing: When seasonality adversely affects sales, use a gimmick to turn things around.

Kleenex, the 86-year old brand whose brand name is synonymous with “tissues,” typically sees a downward spiral in sales during the summer. Apparently, allergy season is no match for cold and flu season.

According to market research firm Symphony IRI Group, there was a 60% drop in tissue sales during a four week period in June-July 2009 as compared to December 2009-January 2010.[more]

The Kleenex solution: Produce tissue boxes that look like fruit associated with summer. The innovative “A-frame” design creates what appears to be a wedge of watermelon, orange or lime (though we would have loved to have seen the mock-up for a strawberry).

Kleenex tested the unique fruit boxes last year at Target (there goes Target, innovating again) and results were positive enough to launch the boxes this summer at all big retailers. The boxes are so different that they have already won a number of design awards, including the best in show award at an international package design competition, Pentawards.


Craig Smith, brand director of Kleenex, tells the New York Times that the packaging “keeps the category relevant during this time of year.” He says during last year’s test, the fruit boxes did not appear to cannibalize sales of standard Kleenex boxes.

There’s another reason for the summery package design besides seasonality — remaining competitive. Like many major brands, Kleenex is constantly fighting the private label battle. Tissues have become a commodity, and the economy has caused consumers to buy store brands that cost less than Kleenex. In the past year, private-label tissue sales increased 6.4 percent while sales of Kleenex declined 5.5% and competitor Puffs fell 3.2%, says Symphony IRI.

That’s why Kleenex considers “the package as part of the product we’re providing,” says Christine Mau, brand design director at the owner of the Kleenex brand, Kimberly-Clark. “That’s what really sets Kleenex apart,” she tells the Times.

Over the past several years, Kleenex has introduced a variety of packaging, including ovals, wallpaper motifs and special holiday editions. In 2008, Kleenex offered a holiday tissue box with flickering lights. Consumers can even create their own unique tissue box design (yes, really) at MyKleenexTissue.com.

We think the new Kleenex boxes are pretty cool on a hot summer’s day. In fact, they’re nothing to sneeze at.