There’s nothing new about brands nicking packaging ideas from other categories, but why has the trickle turned into a flood?

Beer in a bag? Yoghurt in an edible container? Sprayable Marmite? Totally implausible? Actually, they’re not. The first is already available in China, the second earned developer WikiCell the special jury prize for innovation at SIAL Paris last year and while aerosol Marmite is not yet a reality, other brands have made the leap from their traditional formats into aerosol cans – take Britvic’s Turbo Tango, the squirtable foam that created such buzz among teenagers when it was launched in July 2011 that it was reintroduced last summer for a limited period.

This week, Wrigley unveiled a new bottle format for its gum. We’ve also had Heinz Squeeze & Stir soup (in a tube), Flora Cuisine (in an aerosol can) and Bisto Instant Roast Gravy (another tube). So why are so many brands suddenly thinking outside the box (and bag, jar, bottle, tube, tub and pouch for that matter)? What’s the key to success? And are there any pitfalls to all this packaging promiscuity?