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Summer Lovin’, Had Me a Blast

By Julie Rice Suggs, Ph.D.

July 7, 2023

Summer is in full swing, and for many of us, that means enjoying picnics, toes in the sand at a favorite beach, backyard barbecues, outdoor DIY projects (those pesky ones lingering since the new year), crisp beverages while basking in the sun, and hearing the local ice cream truck blaring that nostalgic tune.

Recently, I was at the store with my co-worker, Alli, where we were shopping for barbecue supplies for a Packaging School celebration. A pack of 12″ plates that looked perfect for serving up burgers, hot dogs, and all of the fixings literally spoke to us with the word “barbecue” splashed right on the front of the plate. After said plates were securely in the cart, our minds started spinning about package designs that celebrate summer togetherness. We decided to go on a scavenger hunt, so to speak, looking for new products, limited-edition designs, summery imagery, and seasonal color trends that embody summer moments.

First, we saw this freezer pop display that basically screams, “Summer’s here!” There’s no mistaking that this product earns its keep during the summer months, with images of sailboats, clear skies, and smiling kids placed all over the point-of-purchase display. Their slogan—“Kick back and beat the heat with a Fun Pop freezer pop!”—invokes a trip down memory lane of sweaty days, sticky hands, and colored tongues. And, yes, this product is available all year round, but moving the display to the front of the store means it can be noticed more readily and becomes more tempting during these scorching summer months.

Next up, we headed to the beverage section because, who are we kidding, no summer barbecue is complete without a cold drink (and a strong one at that, for those 21 and older). The first package we saw was a 12-pack of hard cider called “Vacation Mode.” The brand, Blake’s Hard Cider, is clearly ready for warm weather, with new tropical flavors and bright hues commonly associated with summer. Using scarcity marketing to capitalize on a customer’s fear of missing out, this colorful pack is available only from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Moving over to the seltzer section, it took no time at all for us to spot the Smirnoff Ice Neon Lemonade variety pack. The bold use of palm trees on the primary display panel drew us in and is echoed on the lively, fun cans, and it made us long for a tropical vacation of some sort. This 12-pack boasts the perfect combination of tart, yet sweet fruit flavors. Though Smirnoff says this hard lemonade will be a hit on any occasion, we think it pairs perfectly with an out-of-office message and at least a day at the pool (if we can’t get somewhere tropical). However, Smirnoff plans to sell this product year-round, so they are looking to differentiate themselves in this space during the cold months, as well.

Lastly, since you can’t think of summertime and cool treats without it, we took to the ice cream aisle. The relaxed summer schedule sets the stage for parties with family and friends, where we gather and enjoy delicious meals complete with yummy desserts—and ah, the fresh fruit is ripe and abundant. Speaking of fruit and dessert, Häagen-Dazs’ Summer Berry Cake Pop ice cream gave us all the summer feels. This velvety strawberry ice cream is made with sweet cream ice cream, fluffy cake pieces, and raspberry sauce. Information is limited as to whether this will be a summer-only flavor, so we’re going to enjoy it as often as possible while we can.

This trip was a fun break from our normal, run-of-the-mill shopping experience, and we had a blast searching for packaging that embodies summer with its vibrant colors, nostalgic images, and memorable design layouts. But what do you think? Did these brands successfully leverage a seasonal element into their packaged products? Let us know by emailing  

Julie Rice Suggs, Ph.D., is academic director at The Packaging School. She can be reached at 330-774-8542 or

Alli Keigley, who contributed to this article, is production coordinator at The Packaging School. She can be reached at