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Russell Stover redesign reverses three-year sales decline

New packaging graphics for Russell Stover’s sugar-free candies focus on appetite appeal and craftsmanship to change consumers perceptions about the quality of sugar-free brands.

The new design system follows the overall master brand with color and typography, but with a clean, white background.
The new design system follows the overall master brand with color and typography, but with a clean, white background.

For many years, candy, chocolate, and confections company Russell Stover dominated the sugar-free chocolates category. In recent years, however, changing consumer preferences and me-too offerings put a dent in their sales. To reverse the slide, they worked with brand strategy firm Retail Voodoo to redesign the package graphics for their sugar-free offerings.

“Our research uncovered the fact that many of these consumers felt that sugar-free brands were offering them the equivalent of a booby prize, so we needed to change perceptions about quality and taste,” says David Lemley, Founder/Chief Strategist, Retail Voodoo.

Reviewing the ingredient panel, Retail Voodoo suggested replacing Sucralose with Stevia, a plant-based, natural sweetener. Doubling down on Russell Stover’s identity as an American chocolate brand with a leading sugar-free portfolio, they reimagined the line through the lens of “Everyone Deserves Chocolate,” focusing on taste and childhood memories of chocolate, without the sugar.

Increasing appetite appeal became the focus of the redesign of the packaging. Prominently featured product photography pays homage to Russell Stover’s classic small-batch, hand-made heritage, providing a look of craftsmanship and quality not previously associated with sugar-free.

The new design system follows the overall master brand with color and typography, but with a clean, white background and a simple ribbon to draw the distinction between the core line and sugar-free.

Over 35 products in the line have been redesigned, and the changes have effectively reversed a three-year sales decline within 12 months. Says Marjolaine DeClaviere, VP, Marketing, Russell Stover, “We now have great impact on shelf, and the strategic changes made by Retail Voodoo have buyers excited once again.”

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