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Power of Tangibles

Power of Tangibles

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This paper is focused on Packaging; one of the relatively long-term component in the many tools of shopper marketing. The more interesting observation is that it is right at the center of brand’s consumer proposition and brand’s shopper proposition – therefore an essential component in communication mix. A good packaging design not just motivates shoppers to choose, but it also builds brand equity and supports what is advertised.

This paper is focused on Packaging; one of the relatively long-term component in the many tools of shopper marketing. The more interesting observation is that it is right at the center of brand’s consumer proposition and brand’s shopper proposition – therefore an essential component in communication mix. A good packaging design not just motivates shoppers to choose, but it also builds brand equity and supports what is advertised.

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Power of Tangibles

  1. 1. Unleash the role of Packaging in your communication mix Don’t ignore the power of tangibles in the race of new media Rohit Arora, Planning Director, Y&R, Dubai, UAE (This whitepaper was published in brandchannel in July 2010. But, following the website revamp, since they’ve removed the brandpapers section, it’s being uploaded in slideshare for the benefit of those researching on the subject). The focus on shopper marketing has been on rise as marketers focus on winning over consumers at the moment of truth, subconsciously engaging consumers with a brand. The last mile is critical as in the consumer buying cycle, while advertising plays a role of awareness, educating, reminding, triggering, enticing, etc. emotionally or rationally; shopper marketing has a single point driving goal and that is ‘conversion’. Period! This paper is focused on Packaging; one of the relatively long-term component in the many tools of shopper marketing. The more interesting observation is that it is right at the center of brand’s consumer proposition and brand’s shopper proposition – therefore an essential component in communication mix. A good packaging design not just motivates shoppers to choose, but it also builds brand equity and supports what is advertised. If we peel the onion further and think at our own shopping behaviour in the region, there are a lots of brands we had (and continue to have) our first interaction and awareness by simply noticing them on the shelves. And what drives the awareness is largely the package. No doubt, P&G calls package design as “the first moment of truth”. Regional brands While many international brands have got their mix right, for example it is not easy to ignore Oreo amongst the clutter of biscuits brands, few regional brands are up there as well, for example Almarai milk. In a commoditized category with little/no product differentiation, Almarai milk packaging not only stands out, but you can see people reaching out to it and it is among the first milk brands that disappear from the shelves. Almarai is gulf's largest dairy firm by market value. Think of brand recognition, remove the label and you can still identify Almarai milk with its packaging ergonomics. Internationally, Coke & Absolut are the most common examples in this regard. Masafi mineral water packaging is another example of good packaging design among the regional brands. With minimalist- transparent label, the leaf shape graphic canvas, simple design
  2. 2. elements (sunrise) and a dash of blue in the bottle color – semiotically it communicates purity, authenticity and reasonably premium thanks to the silver swooshes. It is the leading brand sold for 500ml & 1.5ml in spite of many international players with deep pockets. Retailer reaction Over the period of time, retailers have realized that point-of-sale advertising and displays not only clutters their environment, but also causes consumers to retract sometimes as they feel bombarded by several messages. For instance, although Spinney’s and Waitrose are pricier than hypermarkets they tend to attract quite a lot of consumers and many loyalists amongst them. In the retailer attempt to be cleaner and brighter, they are limiting the point-of-sale advertising and displays, which means packaging has to work harder, smarter. Most brands keep their package together to have a distinct visibility. Environmental considerations Consumers are concerned foremost with package appearance and function. Once the two must-haves are satisfied, eco-friendly messages are more likely to influence them. Today in the world of increasing awareness about sustainability, brands are being pro-active, justifying their packaging existence and by doing so building a soft-corner, a feel-good (less guilt) factor. Masafi mineral water’s PR exercise on packaging re-cycling initiative with an environmental body and introduction of oxo-biodegradable shrink wraps that degrades in two years is a regional case in point. Pack it right. Dissonance vs. Resonance One of the decisions marketers must take is whether they want to create dissonance with their packaging by disruption of the category status quo (for example overpowering use of black color in food category or loud/flashy design that screams for attention) or generate resonance by appealing with simplicity or straightforward design that communicates the brand proposition. Note, these are not mutually exclusive – one can create dissonance by simplicity, for example the packaging of Innocent drinks internationally – with its quirky design in a market characterized by showing pictures of fruit, it clearly stands out and communicates the proposition. Regionally, Illume energy efficient CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs campaign is a fine example. In a low involvement category, the insight came from supermarket shelves where incandescent bulbs and CFLs are mixed together with little inspiration for anyone to choose CFLs due to the price difference of nearly 500%. The
  3. 3. campaign was led by packaging which a quirky-yet-educational tone clearly highlighting the difference vs. incandescent bulbs and the difference they can make with their choice. Degree of change Another important consideration that marketers must make is on the degree of change. The packaging design change impacts brand loyalty, as people get use to the look and feel of the brand. Recent international examples where Tropicana had to abandon its trendy new orange juice carton design and revert to its traditional packaging following an outpouring of customer complaints is a classic example. While it is important to contemporarize the brand with evolving times, the important visual hooks must be carried forward. If the packaging is working effectively or has tremendous visual equity, marketers must explore evolutionary change route. Consumer engagement programs using packaging While it’s a common sight to see a pack shot in TVC, print communication, etc. there are only a handful of brands globally that have utilized packaging innovatively to engage consumers. Jones Soda ‘your photo, your soda, your brand’ campaign (originating from UK) is an excellent case in point. Unlike Pepsi strategy of putting their brand ambassadors on the pack, Jones Soda found it more relevant to put consumer’s picture on their pack label. My Jones website empowers its
  4. 4. consumers to customize their own labels with their own pictures, their messages and choosing their flavor for their wedding, birthday’s, etc. Few consumer statements on their website says it all “If I could marry Jones soda I totally would, thats just how outrageously amazing it truely is!” “i LOVE jones soda, they are so friggen good. its on my list of things to do before i die to get my pic on one of the bottles”. 377,700 Facebook fans & counting and tons of earned media. Orbit ‘u can’t touch this’ is another campaign (originating from Czech Republic) based on packaging where they strengthened their bonding with consumers by letting them select or create or submit their own a repulsive pack design online that would scare people away instead of attracting them to take gum from their pack. Hundreds of people from amateurs to professional designers participated & within the first four weeks 1400 unique covers were created, plus a substantial earned media. The project was so successful that agency’s client has extended the campaign indefinitely. Kurkure snack with their ‘Chai (tea) time achiever’s awards’ campaign (originating from India) wanted to create awareness about its product versatility. This promotional campaign made real people famous by not only inviting them to send in their recipes in which Kurkure was used as an ingredient, but with the top prize of the winning family and recipe appearing on a million Kurkure packs. The idea was integrated with TV cookery shows of country’s largest regional broadcasting network in 12 languages to have mass regional participation and emphasize product versatility. In total, 264 families participated across 88 episodes, enthusiastically creating unique recipes to cater for a range of different regional taste buds across the land. The final winning family had their picture printed on one million Kurkure packs. Absolut vodka is without a doubt the most commonly known case study in leveraging brand packaging in communication. Its mention is not new, but ignoring it would certainly be a crime. It is one of the world's top selling spirits and one of the most recognizable icons of the 20th century whose story began in the small town of Ahus, Sweden. Apart from their official website there are ad archives created by Absolut fans. absolutads.com is a tribute to the imagination and artistic
  5. 5. feeling reflected in these ads, absolutad.org is an archive of the cool Absolut Vodka ads that appear in different magazines, absolutad.com is where you will find all the information you would ever want or need to know about Absolut ad collecting. Limited or special edition is another route many brands have explored to generate buzz and gain fresh traction. The idea is to exploit the paucity / exclusivity factor by turning what’s ordinary into desirable. Absolut Disco, Coke WE8, Mr. Clean’s Dumbbell pack and Evian’s annual limited editions are some of the many examples. So, what does this add up to? The change in the nature of consumerism is rapidly questioning the traditional, linear and narrowing consumer-purchasing-funnel where consumers develop awareness through traditional advertising, leading to consideration for a limited few, the retail attention on those few choices and ultimately purchasing one. The multi-dimensional communication scenario of today demands for a strategically crafted packaging integration within the communication mix and if done well, it can produce excellent results and loyalty. Action points:  Question the role of packaging in the communication mix and define whether you want to create dissonance or resonance  Probe the appropriate degree of change. Leverage brand’s existing visual equity  Assess the environmental impact and take genuine steps to minimize carbon footprint. No, not just as a PR exercise, consider greenwashing  Lastly, unleash the role of packaging in your communication mix

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