6 Wacky Christmas Innovations

Last year we shared our Top 10 Festive Innovations. If you were expecting the same again, we apologise; this year we’ve selected the weirdest Christmas products. Only the truly wacky made the cut…

Edwards of Conwy Gin & Tonic Cocktail Sausages

pack of gin & tonic flavour mini sausages on a wooden surface
Image source: Ocado

It is a truth universally acknowledged that us Brits love a G&T. Gin sales in 2018 are up 38% on last year (WSTA) and the market shows no signs of slowing. Tatler has officially deemed a G&T “hip” as opposed to “classic”. When Aldi launched their G&T ice popsicles last year, they sold out. Do consumers still have enough G&T appetite to buy G&T cocktail sausages for their pigs in blankets this Christmas?

Heston from Waitrose Profiter’coals

black profiteroles drizzled in an orange sauce on a grey surface
Image source: Waitrose

This frankly weird looking dessert is actually harmless pastry filled with mandarin flavoured crème pâtissière, drizzled with smoked orange caramel. The black colour of the pastry comes from the charcoal, which also adds to the smoky flavour. Coal is uber trendy right now, and the dramatic black colour would definitely add a ‘wow’ factor to the Christmas dinner table. And Heston has the authority to pull off weird. It’s what he does.


Waitrose Sausage Wreath

3 sausages plaited into a wreath shape on a rustic grey background
Image source: Waitrose

Waitrose are known for quality and artisanal food. This Festive Sausage Wreath is created with 3 savoury British pork sausages and glazed with cranberry. The problem is, will consumers be grossed out by sausages in a format usually reserved for flowers? Or will they be intrigued by a new spin on a well-loved classic?


Protein Ball Advent Calendars

2 advent calendars containing protein balls. 1 is bright red, the other gold and black
Image source: The Protein Ball Co. & My Protein

The popularity of alternative advent calendars continues. A quick google will reveal Kelloggs cereal, Bonne Maman jam, and even Pringles, and pork crackling varieties. My Protein and The Protein Ball Co. have decided they want a slice of the action and have launched their own advent calendars – full of protein balls. I can’t help but wonder, though, have they missed the point of advent calendars? This is a product which sits firmly in the “treat” camp. Do consumers want to compromise their “treat” moment and make it healthy?


Marmite Sprouts

plastic freezer pack of Marmite flavour sprouts
Image source: Iceland

Sprouts are a well-known divider of opinion. Once a hallmark of the British Christmas dinner, these noble brassica are now an endangered species on the festive table. Marmite, that other famous opinion-divider, have teamed up with Iceland to bring us Marmite Sprouts. Will the cult pull of Marmite tempt sprout haters? Will this just be an amusing PR stunt on Marmite’s behalf? Will this cause the tide to turn for the fate of the sprout?


Philosophy Christmas Cookie Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Bath

5 bottles of philosophy christmas cookie scented shower gel
Image source: Philosophy

And just to reassure you that wacky seasonal innovations aren’t limited to edibles, here’s Philosophy’s Christmas Cookie scented offering. Although the smell of freshly baked cookies is wonderful, the consensus in the office is that we’d rather eat our cookies than bathe in them.

These are all risky innovations. At a time of year when consumers are craving home comforts, tradition and the familiar, can novelty and innovation persuade them to purchase? The fact that consumers time after time choose the familiar over the unusual is not encouraging (For more on that, see our article on Why So Many Innovative Ideas Fail In Research).


So, what do brands have to do to convince consumers to go out of their way to purchase something downright weird over their usual choice?

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Divide Opinion

Marmite is the poster brand for polarisation. When surveyed, 45% of consumers love Marmite, but 40% of them hate it. Very few people (14%) fall in the middle. Guy Kawasaki puts it nicely: “the worst case is to incite no passionate reactions at all, and that happens when companies try to make everyone happy.”

2. Create A Talking Point

If you’re going to go wacky, then be bold! Heston’s Profiter’coals are a perfect example. They are visually arresting and would certainly create a talking point at your average festive dinner table. So how about creating visual impact with an unexpected colour choice or creating a sensory talking point with popping candy or colour change products?

3. Make Ingredients The Headline

If, like Edwards, your brand is an old favourite (who doesn’t love a cocktail sausage?) Think about ways to create new news with an ingredient story. How about adding some festive flavour like mulled spice or sherry?

4. Be Innovative With Format

Waitrose have showed us how easy it is to take something and make it Christmassy with their sausage wreath. There must be plenty of other format innovations possible, just by re-shaping products into festive shapes! Think stars, trees, yule logs, angels, snowmen…imagine a Persil limited edition dispenser, or a bottle of booze in a festive shape.


Drop us a line if you’d like to talk festive innovations for your brand.