Domino Sugar Is Rolling Out Some Sweet New Packaging

Offering a higher-quality image than the no-name competition

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Conventional wisdom holds that it’s a good thing when a brand’s been around for a century or two. And if you’re Domino Sugar—which built its first refinery in New York in 1807—there’s certainly no need to introduce yourself to most shoppers. But Domino has a unique challenge. Its brand is a commodity, and in these belt-tightening times, most shoppers who can save a buck by buying store-brand sugar almost certainly will. And that’s why Domino struck back—not by changing its brand, but by changing its appearance.

With a creative assist from package design firm 4sight in New York, Domino just rolled out a carafe-shaped dispenser shrink-wrapped with its familiar yellow and blue colors and incorporating a clear window that shows off those white crystals (whose dissolvability has been enhanced).

“We wanted to create something that was elegant, [would] be easy to pour and look good on the table,” said Domino CEO Brian O’Malley. “[And] we absolutely wanted the consumer to be able to see the crystals inside. We’d like them to see us as the dominant brand.”

Which isn’t easy when it comes to sugar. While Domino sells the pure cane variety and most generic brands feature lower-quality beet sugar, both are white, and nonfoodie consumers don’t know the diff. But the distinctive new packaging affords Domino a higher-quality image than the no-name competition, said 4sight president Stuart Leslie: “Everybody knows how bad those bags of sugar are. People have rubber bands around them, and they leave a mess on the counter.” Meanwhile, Domino’s new curvilinear carafe and spiral-twist label incorporate intelligence from focus group participants who were asked why they like sugar. “It’s that swirl,” Leslie said. “People like to stir it around—they have positive memories of doing it—and we tried to bring that into the packaging with that shape.” 

@UpperEastRob Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.