Dress For Success – Packaging Tips For Brands

01 Oct 2005|Added Value

In a visual age of red carpets, extreme makeovers and image consultants, the old clichés ring truer than ever – first impressions count and to succeed one must dress for success. 

Like it or not, we judge by external appearance.  Yet so many marketers treat the packaging of their brands like an afterthought.  In the battle of the brands, packaging can create a strong point of difference.  It creates an image – a personification if you will – of the brand that can be the on-shelf purchase trigger or at-home touchpoint for consumers across a range of products and categories. 

Alison Tucker, Managing Director of strategic brand consultancy Added Value, considers 10 ways to dress up your pack strategy – and look like a million bucks.

Treat your pack suppliers as partners
Bring your packaging suppliers into the process early and treat them as partners. They can be extremely valuable in innovation and cost management.  They are experts in functionality, design implications and usually have up to the minute knowledge of industry and materials developments. 

Think of packaging as an investment not a cost
Marketers (and businesses) must start seeing packaging as an INVESTMENT, not a COST if they want to remain competitive.  Pack design should be given the same consideration in the mix – it is a ‘guaranteed’ daily connect with consumers.  If cost was always a factor, disposable pepper grinders might never have made it to the shelves.

Break rules
We can do things better and better or we can change the way we do things.  The latter can revolutionize a category and do wonders for the growth of your brand.  Give conscious consideration to understanding the packaging ‘rules/codes’ in your category, like materials, colours, shape and size.  And then break them!  It’s important, though, to create consumer relevant value when breaking rules.  Don’t break rules merely for the sake of it. 

Steal cues
Marketers can bring new meaning to the category or brand by ‘stealing’ cues from others.  Colour is just one cue that can give taste and fragrance perceptions – in chips, green says cheese and onion, while blue says salt and vinegar.

Marketers can leverage this by ‘stealing’ colour, shape and texture cues from other categories to infer meaning and introduce new thoughts about their own category/brand.  For example, using motor product shapes and colours for personal care products could be one way to attract men to this traditionally female category. 

Create involvement and ritual
Enhance the consumer’s experience with the brand by introducing involvement and ritual in their packaging interactions.  ‘Forced’ involvement through packaging can actually enhance the overall experience of the brand and result in significant growth.  Just pushing a wedge of lemon into the neck of a beer created a whole new type of beer drinker!

Think functionality
Enhanced functionality is a key way to add value to packaging.  Use packaging functionality to bring new benefits to the category/brand and to differentiate from competitors.

One of the best ways to come up with functionality ideas is to observe your consumers using your products in their own environments and to ask questions? Who is using the product? How are they using it?  When are they using it? How can I save them time or make their lives easier? How can I offer them even more to justify the price/a premium?

Quick wins
The simplest of packaging ideas can constitute quick, big wins.  Pack size changes, material changes, updated graphics and changes in the brand naming hierarchy are just some of the ways to unlock new growth for a brand.  Don’t overlook the obvious.  The simplest packaging changes can yield great opportunities for a brand.

Have a conscience
Consumers at all levels are demanding more than a simple money for service/product transaction. 

Many of SA consumers would prefer to be able to access a brand than have 1st world quality packaging.  Act responsibly and be conscious of the financial constraints of many consumers.  Strike the right balance between branding perfection, and accessibility/affordability.

Business consciousness is also increasingly important to consumers.  Be responsible when developing packaging and be conscious of the broader impact on consumers and the environment.  Don’t wait for consumers to raise issues – do what is right. 

People as packaging
Service industries have an even bigger packaging challenge.  Their people are essentially their packaging; their daily touchpoint with consumers and it is as important for them to invest in service delivery development and innovation as it is for FMCG marketers to invest in their physical packaging. 

Smart research
It’s crucial to understand if your brand is appropriately dressed for the markets and cultures it operates in.  Research at the beginning of a launch, repositioning or development process can really give your product the opportunity to shine.

Packaging is often only researched as a straight comparison at the end of the development process.  This ignores the opportunity to be more strategic in approaching packaging. 

The right kind of research, conducted early in the process, can help brand marketers identify potential issues and opportunities in their packaging development brief and unlock what is really important to the brand and the pack users.  This point in the process is also where emergent trends and future direction can be tapped into and leveraged for innovation.

Topping the Best Dressed Lists
Without a strategic approach to packaging, your brand could become last season’s fashion faux pas.  In fact, anyone who’s fought with a fiddly wrapper knows that packaging alone can make or break how you feel about a brand.  With hundreds of other brand candidates to choose from, marketers who take care to clothe their brands in ways that connect with consumers will make the impression that counts.

prev next