In an increasingly globalized world, the standards that marketers are held to are higher than ever. This is more relevant for physical goods, where the advances of marketing have set the bar so high that sub-standard packaging that does not resonate with the consumer is either ignored by consumers or can make people avoid making the purchase. For companies today, there is a significant push to get packaging in tune with the rest of the marketing message and be an asset, not a liability, for sales.
There are many notable examples of how packaging became a marketing asset. From the iconic opening of an Apple device box after to one of the millions of Coke bottles sold each day that is shipped by sea container, the best brands leverage packaging as part of their consumption experience. It may seem much less important than the quality of the product itself, but it remains an essential ingredient in the overall success of any product.
There are many factors to consider when designing a winning packaging formula. Cost and function are paramount, but the marketing effect should not be discounted.
Keeping it Integrated with your Brand Message
One of the most important things to bear in mind when combining marketing and packaging is the need to keep a common theme and brand message in front of the consumer always. For some brands this means eco-friendly packaging - if the target demographic and the purpose of the product places emphasis on environmental characteristics, then recyclable, sustainably sourced, and eco-friendly packaging is very important. Heavy use of plastics and needless amounts of packaging material will not match with the message of the company. This is relevant for all companies since consumers are increasingly focused on green considerations wh....
There are other elements of product characteristics that can be factored into your packaging decisions. An example is the iPhone, widely viewed as a masterclass in marketing. iPhones are shipped in iconic boxes that tap into the customer perception of the Apple products being well-designed, sleek and minimalist. The box itself is compact and seamless, and mirrors the physical design and even the operating system user experience of the phone itself. Customers recorded and shared opening their boxes for the first time in large numbers when the phone first came out, and the ritual of unveiling the product added greatly to the prestige of the brand.
Leveraging Extended Packaging and Prompts to Scan
Quick Response (QR) codes have only recently become common. Increasing numbers of brands leverage technology like these codes and near field communication (NFC) tags to make the integration between marketing and packaging tighter. This kind of packaging has several benefits.
This sort of package makes the consumer aware of the possibility of engaging with, and doing more research on, the product and company at the most relevant time; when they are first unpacking, or using the product. A simple QR code printed on an instruction manual or label can provide a prompt to the customer to share their experience, follow a company Twitter account, or do more research about the product online. Furthermore, the data transmitted by a scan can be useful for market and customer research purposes since it gives an added dimension of information in terms of location and time of the interaction. These can all be leveraged to get a better idea of how your customers use the product and when.
Customers are less wary about taking out their smartphones engaging directly with a product given how inconspicuous a QR code or similar can be. Extended packaging can be a great asset to the marketer.
Thinking Outside the Box - Literally
One marketing technique that has resonated with consumers nowadays and been shown to drive brand engagement is the addition of supplementary marketing materials to packaged goods. A thank you note added to an online shipment, a small booklet added to a product, or even a topical sticker added can all increase the communication methods available to the marketer for a very low incremental cost.
Packaging is a great way to drive customer loyalty through the integration of prom... Tokens, discounts, and repeat purchase rewards are easy to promote through packaging. Successful classic examples like collecting bottle caps to redeem prizes may seem old fashioned, but similar approaches are taken by companies today with remarkable success. Something as simple as including a voucher for a discount on the next purchase is an effortless way to reward the customer and get sales in the process.
Best Practice: Stand Out
Especially if your product is going to be viewed on a shelf, the importance of having a unique package cannot be overstated. The key to success in a competitive market is differentiation, and the example of the characteristic Coke contour bottle stands as a timeless example of how the company set itself apart from competitors is an undifferentiated market - catching the eye of consumers amongst the other product stacked in a store refrigerator. Coke have built one of the most valuable brands of all time in no small part thanks to their unique glass bottles.
If the message and theme of your packaging do not match with your product and the rest of your marketing efforts, a big opportunity to resonate with the customer is lost. The best companies use an integrated marketing approach to keep a consistent message across the full customer journey. Whether your core message is cost-competitiveness, environmental friendliness, or high quality, it is important to key in on one or two aspects and make sure they are well integrated into your packaging.
Aside from this, packaging offers a prime opportunity to get customers to engage with your brand, to gather more information about them, and to prompt intentions of repurchase at a critical point in the client's journey. The examples of two of the biggest marketing success stories of all time, Apple and Coca-Cola, serve to reinforce and inspire companies today of the importance and benefits of integrating your marketing and packaging.
Since they are both integral components of any physical goods business’ overall strategy, marketing and packaging should go hand-in-hand.