Product packaging is far more than a simple method used to transport your product from point a to point b without causing damage in the process. Product packaging plays a critical role in how consumers view your brand and is, therefore, a critical part of the marketing process. No business owner should view production as the endpoint of their marketing plan, even if you consider your marketing efforts to end with the distributor.
Packaging serves a number of roles as part of your marketing efforts. Product packaging:
- Promotes your brand. For instance, colors play a key role in how consumers view your brand and make product purchase decisions. Take the gold packaging used by Godiva that make it one of the world’s most popular candy for gifts. Of the green packages used at Starbucks to denote their commitment to sustainability.
- Identify the brand and its core values. Imagine if every product came in a standard brown wrapper. First, consumers would find it challenging to find their favorite brand on the shelves with every product looking exactly the same. Even when my kids were little, they helped in the grocery store by picking the products they knew based on the package design. Your product packaging can also show your company’s core values and ethics not just by the colors but the images and text that make up the package.
- Complies with legal requirements. Various laws require labeling products with specific information. For instance, furs require a label indicating where the fur originates. Food labels require a myriad of nutritional information that changes over time. Some argue that the food labels of today are overly complicated for the average consumer to use as a tool for a healthy lifestyle but at least they contain more information than in the past. In addition to what must show up on your label, there are regulations regarding what can’t show up. For instance, products representing a danger to children can’t display cartoon characters anymore, for instance, the camel on cigarettes.
- Bundle products together to increase unit consumption. For instance, we package toaster pastries to sell more product than if they were sold individually. Of course, this is a two-edged sword as the wrong bundling can discourage purchase. For instance, when a stuffing manufacturer went from selling a box containing 4 servings of the product to a package that allowed consumers to scoop out as much or as little product as they needed to serve their diners, sales increased.
- Protects your product from damage. For instance, egg cartons force eggs into a position that makes them almost impervious to breakage. For years, growers attempted to grow square tomatoes not to meet the demand from Wendy’s but to reduce the wasted space in the packaging used to protect them from bruising during shipment.
- Makes usage easy. For instance, squeeze packages make it easy for small children to consume a product without involving an adult to supervise while a pop-top means no more searching for a can opener. More wines now come with twist-off tops for the same reason.
Using product packaging as a marketing tool
Product packaging costs money, so you need a thoughtful cost/ benefit analysis to come up with the right package design. Of course, design is just one element of product packaging as you also need to physically package your product. So, as you build a product packaging strategy, consider both design and physical packaging.
Here are some product packaging elements to consider as you build that strategy.
Rise above your competition
By taking the time and effort to create attractive packaging that presents your brand in a positive way to your target market, you benefit in terms of increased sales. Consider making use of design elements such as colors, font, styles, patterns, designs, and using them to promote your company logo, brand, and theme effectively to create a clear brand image that buyers recall, motivating future purchases. Unique packaging helps you stand out from competitors on the shelves, which generic and new brands might use packaging similar to the brand leader to capture sales made in error. Just recognize that some elements of product packaging are protected by trademarks and other licensing agreements before you attempt to capitalize on similarities.
Creative and attractive packaging is memorable, and it allows you to rise about your competitors who aren’t as savvy in developing their packaging. Imagine receiving a package that clearly looks good from the beginning. The whole opening process is part of the enjoyment of the product. It creates a great first impression that reflects favorably on your company as a whole.
Increases brand identity
If you employ packaging correctly, it can highlight the type of company you are. You can use it to put your core values and ethics front and center at the moment of truth — when customers make their product choice. For example, if you wish to promote the idea of sustainability and your packing is 100% from renewable sources or is biodegradable, this shows the customer that you stand by what you believe in every step of the way. This can only enhance your brand. You should use every contact point with the customer as an opportunity to enhance your brand identity.
Remembering what I said above about copying the packaging of top-selling brands, consider protecting your design by patenting color or fonts to ensure your product always looks unique and can’t be copied by your competition–at least legally.
It has cost benefits
Customers are actually willing to pay more for a product that has more extravagant packing, especially when it aligns with an issue they feel strongly about or provides enhanced utility. So, although you may suffer some illusion that creating highly stylized packaging is more expensive, the ends justify the means, if they promote your product to consumers.
It is important that you understand your customer so you can promote the right socio-economical views in your packaging. Then the packaging equipment you use and the messages you convey will not only protect the product sufficiently but will encourage your customers to buy from you again and they’ll happily pay that little extra for your quality or utility. For instance, we pay much more for single items versus bundles when we only need 1 of something and we pay more for packaging that makes our lives easier such as individual packages of snacks versus an entire box, especially in the Covid world where hygiene is a primary concern.
Enhance the customer experience
The more opportunities you find to enhance the customer experience, the better, and the unwrapping step is one of those areas. Consumers will remember you for all the right things, and your customer will be surprised and pleased at the effort if you make unboxing easy and interesting. For instance, I recently bought an iMac. The packaging was custom-designed to secure the product with little compartments where pieces, like the mouse and keyword, fit exactly into the packaging.
In some cases, consumers keep your packaging and reuse it themselves, such as when they resell their iMac. Hence, ensuring your packaging is sturdy and easy for consumers to repackage their product between uses offers an incentive. The marketing strategy you create needs to include an advanced packaging process. Remember to include cards and any other promotional effects that will enhance the customer experience and encourage them to use you again.
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