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Can cheap be cheerful?

Whenever a ‘new’ version comes out I always find there’s a time lag while I accustom myself to whatever the ‘new’ is. The ‘old’ wasn’t so bad  - why did it have to change?  (Mac OS 9 anyone?)


I always find this happens when products rebrand. That feeling of slight resistance while I get used to the new face.


So, having lived for a week or so with the new Morrison's Savers packaging, I’m still waiting for the realisation that the old Savers Range brand (Coley Porter Bell) has been improved. And that there's much to look forward to in the new 'Savers’ range.


Still waiting...


I can’t decide if the new Morrison's Savers range design is a random social experiment, the epitome of anti-branding, or an example of all the worst outcomes possible if you misinterpret consumer research.


For me, the new Morrison's Savers branding is so wilfully and uncompromisingly awful it defies any criticism. 


Joyless, semi-legible, bleak, plastic, insipid and mean-minded. 

I would like to say it’s ‘effortless and no frills’, but I can’t.  


Even at this basic level the scheme still doesn’t work. Surprisingly, some of the largest graphic features of the new design are bar codes and stock numbers.


“Biscuit Assortment Handle with Care  700g x 12”


Yum.... even this ‘no brand’ information stands out more than the words ‘Jaffa Cakes” or “Biscuit Selection”.


And the reliance on opaque white flow wrap - with absolutely no printing -  gives the range an antiseptic clinical look. It’s what I imagine Civil Defence emergency ration packs would look like. Think bandages and water sterilisation kits rather than a tasty family treat.


Are Morrison's telling me that as a 'saver' this is all I deserve and can afford?


Morrisons stacking it high and selling it cheap?

A colleague suggested that maybe Morrison's are trying to make their ‘Savers' range so unappealing that everyone will pay a little more and buy into their luxury range.  


The logic is there  - but surely for every retailer their ‘saver’ or ‘budget’ range is the core of their consumer brand and message. Their way of saying to shoppers “please shop here - it’s a better experience”.


It will be interesting to see how long this design scheme lasts. My personal view is that few of us see their grocery shop as the highlight of their week (or day). So how will my allegiance to a retail brand be enhanced if they make the chore even more miserable and uninspiring?


So, can cheap be cheerful?

Yes, of course it can.

Consumers are meant to be the solution to austerity - not the cause of it. Don’t punish us for saving some money when we shop!

Buying into the budget range isn’t a failing. It’s just me expressing my choice over some products and maybe using any savings to buy more premium products located in different aisles. But in the same store.


Our studio currently has a similar challenge. We've been asked to develop an accessible, 'everyday' range for a leading organic food retailer. While the range is not a 'saver' range the branding will still need work across a breadth of formats and price points. As well as compete for the attention of savvy shoppers.

Planet Organic - leading health food retailer

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Wonderland Design | The Space | 69 Old Street | London EC1V 9HX

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