> February 2007 <
Packaging: The Guaranteed Touchpoint
With over 70% of purchase decisions made at the point of purchase packaging is the single most important advertising mechanism available to companies and organisations. In many cases it is the only opportunity for a consumer to engage with your product.
As people get busier, mainstream advertising messages are going unnoticed or being ignored. It's easy to change the channel when the ad breaks come on, if you aren't watching digital, or indeed have the time to watch television. With the click of a button, a radio station is switched to a CD. Or maybe your target audience listens to podcasts on their ad-free MP3 players. Reading magazines or newspapers is a weekend luxury and readers certainly aren't looking to browse advertising.
Consumers step into stores with the intention of buying goods and chances are their list will be made up of generic items (see "Planning to Manufacture Usage" and its definition of repertoire and subscription markets). Consumers allocate purchases across various brands, so when they stand in the supermarket aisle looking for a box of cereal, their connection with the product is generally based on their engagement with the package.
With a myriad of products to choose from, there is a growing pressure for packaging designs to really connect with their audience. Packaging it is the only guaranteed 'touch point'.
Put simply, packaging sells product.
With literally thousands of items in an average supermarket, variety or hardware store, the challenge is to stand out from the crowd. An appealing package that is relevant to its audience is more likely to be picked up. It must grab attention, the first marketing function of packaging. The second is to communicate the product, quickly and simply. Education is the third function, informing the consumer about the product and how to use it. Lastly is the interactive component, which may attract attention, persuade a purchase and/or promote interaction with a consumer.
Communicating with your audience is paramount. A description of what's inside will no longer cut it. Packaging needs to engage the consumer so on top of the product name, brand, description and size, good packaging should communicate the reasons why they should buy the product. This could include consumer benefits, where it was made, age suitability and promotional information. All elements need to be clearly communicated to answer any questions the consumer has. This might be the one and only opportunity to communicate with them.
Extra Juicy 90% Fruit Juice Cordial from P&N Beverages Australia, not only stands out from the crowd of colourful bottles but immediately indicates what the product is and the nutritional benefits it offers. Nudie have tailored their communication to their audience through language and tone, with the likes of "nutritional stuff" and "typical contents - not that you'd call them typical".
Wiltshire's Bend and Bake Silicone Bakeware almost jumps off the shelf in its hot pink sleeve. It clearly states that the bakeware is safe in a number of environments, including the oven which may be difficult for consumers to believe. The image shows the product being flexed and with several points of exposure, the rubbery texture can also be felt. If that isn't enough, it is also badged with a 3 year warranty. On the back there is a list of functional benefits plus a whole range of informative information that will educate regarding its use.
As an educator, a package label needs to list instructions, directions or suggestions for use, use by date, ingredient declaration, nutritional information and anything else a consumer might be interested in such as awards, health ratings or environmental status. Kellogg's have introduced a Recommended Daily Intake panel across the front of their cereal boxes. Providing information that would otherwise be very difficult to reconcile will cut confusion and gives consumers another reason to make a purchase. It also builds trust with the brand.
Interaction is an added benefit. If a package includes a competition, a game, a cut out, a recipe, a promotion or a collectors item, it provides another reason to purchase the product and encourages the user to remain engaged post-purchase. In the example shown here, Kellogg's have included a cut out to be constructed as a cube, designed to coincide with the release of a movie. There are three to collect which then drives consumers to make repeat purchases.
There are, of course, a wealth of issues to consider. Preservation and protection of contents to avoid damage, spoilage and in more recent times, tampering. Consideration of the cost it adds to the purchase price is important, keeping it within a budget suitable for the target market. From a consumer perspective it should also be convenient to handle, store and use. And in this day and age with environmental concerns continually increasing, packaging materials, wastage, recyclability and disposal are all important factors.
With the ability to influence consumers through such a powerful channel, packaging should be viewed as an investment. Too often it is seen as an opportunity to cut cost. The question to ask is, by cutting back on your investment in packaging, how much is it costing your bottom line?