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Monday, October 13, 2014

In theory, marketing is about the science that builds brands, but in practice, it is often something simpler—getting the packaging right. In a grocery store, a customer is unlikely to be aware of a company’s latest promotional events, but he or she will be acutely aware if the company’s product appears to be attractive and affordable as it sits on the shelf.

Sometimes marketing is more about humble common sense than exciting theories about emerging trends. Consumer interests are often stirred by simple questions.

Describing A Product

Seth Godin once described marketing as “a contest for people’s attention.” Good packaging can make it easier to win that contest.

The questions consumers have about the value of a product on a shelf can often be answered by the package the product is in.

Packaging is much more than putting products in the right-size box and sticking on a label. Packaging should not be underestimated. Sometimes good packaging may be responsible for millions of dollars in sales figures. You can get entrepreneurial and creative even in your use of cardboard boxes. In fact, it would be quite easy to develop a full semester’s worth of information about the best practices around highly-attractive packaging.

3 Common Features

Here are the common features behind good packaging.

1. The package protects the product. Before the product reaches the consumer, it passes through many hands and stops at many destinations as it travels by air, sea, or land to get to the store or the customer’s mailbox. Damaged products will not result in repeat business or referrals.

2. It should make a good impression. For instance, through the careful use of shapes, colors, images, and copy an ordinary box of crayons can fill a child with instant delight at the possibilities of art. Packaging has the power to excite the needs, interests, and desires of the buyer.

3. It should differentiate itself from products provided by competitors. It makes a difference to the consumer if their package comes in a plain cardboard box or one with a few design elements. For some products, plain boxes without printing will suffice—for example, it is a waste of money to have a colorful box for computer printing paper because customers are unlikely to get excited about reams of paper. For others, packaging is very important. For instance, in MLM shipments, consumers always look forward to their monthly shipment of health care products.

An Art and Science

Remember the words of SethGodin: marketing is “a contest for people’s attention.” Good packaging can make it easier to win that contest. In some ways, packaging is a science. Packages have to have the right blend of size, strength, and weight for product protection and reduced storage and distribution costs. Manufacturers are also able to offer direct printing and a choice of one color, two colors, or lots of colors. In other ways, packaging is a science. A box of cereals, for example, in an attractive design will outsell another brand of cereals on the shelf right next to it many times better even if the contents are similar. 


Ben Lloyd said...

In some respects, packaging should be an extension of the brand tone of voice - but how many marketers are really involved in the design process?

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