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Celebrating the flexitarian with Unox
Packaging design for Unilever's Unox - helping launch the brands very first vegetarian smoked ‘sausage’ in The Netherlands.
Dutch icon Unox is absolutely synonymous with the traditional meat Rookworst. However, driven by a global decline in meat consumption the brand needed to diversify its portfolio. More specifically, the brand identified an opportunity to tap into the growing number of ‘flexitarian’ consumers – those who don’t necessarily identify as vegetarian but look to limit their meat consumption (whether due to animal welfare concerns or indeed a desire for a healthier and more balanced diet).
The challenge was two-fold; firstly, there was a need to create a visual identity system with legs – a future focused design that could be used flexibly for the brands further meat substitute product launches. Secondly, a need to create a design that very clearly communicated a vegetarian offering – to retain brand awareness while establishing differentiation from the existing Unox portfolio.
The brands introduction of a meat substitute would no doubt be somewhat controversial. Anthem decided to leverage this as an opportunity – a chance to design an on-brand yet unexpected solution. The new design promotes the distinctive ‘U’ shape of the Rookworst but in a more modern graphic style and avoids the brands traditional use of product photography – this is unique within the Unox range.
This bold and iconic design element can be used flexibly as a new range architecture in aid of future vegetarian product offerings. At the same time the ‘U’ helps achieve clear and effective stand out from the rest of the Unox range on shelf. The use of a bright green on pack works to clearly communicate the product offering as vegetarian while the brown paper style provides natural ques and a hint towards traditional butchers packaging with paper and string.
Anthem’s design maintains relevancy to the brands core values of being ‘honest’ and ‘proud’ – it does not shy away from the Unox brand and the associations with meat-based products, nor does it behave apologetically. The design is straight forward and bold, exactly in line with the brands character.
For those familiar with the brand, the more simple and contemporary design is surprising – purposely so, in order to encourage consumers to re-appraise the brand more broadly and appeal to new consumer groups. This strategy allows the brand to retain existing users while also attracting new ones – evolving in line with changing consumer preferences without alienating the brands loyal consumer base.
The team challenged us to take a more iconic approach to design with this project which has really paid off. Within 5 weeks we doubled the market of vegetarian smoked sausages. Unox achieved higher sales within 5 weeks compared to all other vegetarian smoked sausage brands combined in the 45 weeks prior to its launch. Unox vegetarian Rookworst also rapidly became the 3rd best-selling variant within the Unox Rookworst range and is listed as Unilever’s innovation of the year with IRI.