For the last couple of weeks I have been covering the negative impression that consumers have about packaging. I have tried to dissect all of the ranting and raving from nay-sayers about packaging that doesn’t work.
Just last week Britain’s National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) launched a campaign highlighting supermarkets wasteful packaging policies. Granted this was in the UK, but similar initiatives could happen here. I checked it out briefly and I don’t get it. They are complaining about an packaging that keeps the food protected and sanitary. It is akin to the article last week, “How To Package A Lobster.” We need to be prepared and be aware that there are nonsensical reasons that your packaging may come under fire. Just be sure you are covering all your based and anticipate in advance when you might have a problem.
The main thing to visualize is that the role of packaging has changed. Detractors just don’t understand what the package really does. It’s no longer enough for the package just to get product to the retail environment in a satisfactory condition, now it has to “sell” the product too. Packaging plays an integral role in the decision to purchase a product or not. The problem is that what the consumer desires is constantly changing. Market trends come and go. I have mentioned growth niches occurring in the food industry before. Corresponding to the growth are niches that are declining too. Just like I stated “In What’s In Your Bottle.” Bottled water sales recently surpassed soda sales. I was beginning to think the bottled water market was tapped out too. But creativity never ceases to amaze me. We are still welcoming new bottled water product introductions and there is a market for even the most esoteric consumer.
It’s important to understand the evolution of the package because now products are using the packaging as the primary sales tool. Gone is the day of the sales clerk who answer your questions about the product. The role of the package is no longer passive. Its has to “speak” to the consumer both literally and figuratively. (Talking packages are the wave of the future.) Think of all the great packaging applications available if your package talked and could tell you how old the product was, what you should serve it with or that you need to buy this companion product. What a sales tool!
That’s only a fraction of what the new packaging can do. Most importantly, it is imperative that you think about your product package. Does it “connect” with the consumer? In a sea of sensory overload what is going to make your package different? It could be shape, color, size, uniqueness of design or even smell. Remember “Does Your Packaging, UMM, Smell?” Are you utilizing any of the new smart and intelligent applications packaging applications? Does you package fulfill a need and explain in clear concise statements the benefits of buying your product. Is it easy to read and understand?
So start your analysis by viewing your package from the eyes of the consumer. If you are buying it, what’s going to compel you to pick it up off the shelf? Is it just sitting there lost amongst rows of competitive products? Think in terms of your package calling out to you “buy me, buy me.” Does your product do this? If not, your package isn’t doing its job. It must persuade the consumer to purchase the product. Thinks about some of the latest packaging innovations and how to incorporate them into your product packaging. Consider the consumer mind set. Is your package perceived in a negative light negating the benefits of the product within?
All these questions need to be answered. Don’t simply to address them in the initial package design; it’s an ongoing process. As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, the consumer is a moving target and your package has to move along with them in the right direction. Be sure the consumer you are trying to capture receives the right message.
Here are a few types of packaging coming under fire by consumers that could impact your success or failure:
Products that are perceived to be over packaged;
Products that are in clamshells (more about this next week);
Products that are misleading as a result of the claims on the packaging;
Products that are in packaged materials deemed environmentally unfriendly;
Packaging that doesn’t work;
Packaging that doesn’t deliver as promised.
So think about your product packaging right now and determine whether it is helping to sell your product, or not.
Please feel free to use me as a resource when it comes to understanding what packaging markets are hot and what are not. Or what companies are developing the latest in innovative packaging technology.
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