A product's package form, functionality and visuals are the cornerstone of its marketing efforts. The overall objective is to quickly garner attention, explain the product and to get someone to take it home with them. Hopefully once the consumer gets the product home, the experience of the package and usage of the product will encourage additional purchases. The consumer is happy and the company is profitable. It sounds easy, does not it?
Often times, the choices made for packaging are not always in the best interest of the consumer. Sometimes, they are based on ulterior motives or heedless decisions. Many of these can be related to seven deadly sins: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, wrath, greed and sloth.
Pride Known as the "I am the customer" mentality, pride is a sneaky issue that can easily go undetected. If you are going to insure that your customers share your demographics, desires, thoughts, and spending habits; be prepared to back it up. We are not saying that the case may not be true but the reason that focus groups and market research exist is because often times company executes are too close to their product offerings to be subject in the matter of brand packaging.
In order to defeat pride, think about where your product will be sold, gather a sampling of the kind of people who shop at that retail store and show off your packaging concept. Gather all of the feedback you can, good and bad. The goal is to make sure that the package form works on the shelf, that the contents properly explain your product and brand and that it speaks to the audience that will bring you the most return on your investment. Now, if you are just in it for pride, then by all means, feel free to put a picture of your grandchild or your dog on the package; some people love babies and pets.
Envy Ah envy, the most common of all branding and packaging sins. We also call this the "copy-cat" syndrome or "me too" branding. Everyone loves a winner and in lieu of breaking the mold and creating a successful package and brand of your own you will settle for the scraps thrown your way by confused consumers. All right, although that was a bit harsh. After all, if it works why reinvent the wheel? Honestly, if you ever wish to capture a loyal consumer appeal, key word being loyal, differentiation of your product from your competition is just step one.
It is easy to catch envy in the act. Visit any retail shelf category, note the first brand that jumps out at you and then take a look at the others. Why did the others fall short? Are there noticeable similarities such as color, type usage or messaging in the unnoticeable brands? It is always important to know who your shelf neighbors are so that you can plan on beating the envy game from the get go. Also, keep a constant eye on them, as you will need to zig and zag as they copy what you are doing.
Gluttony In this day and age of environmental conservation it is hard to fathom that someone would intentally commit the sin of gluttony but alas it happens. An example, a designer brand pen for crafters was packaged in a test-tube and then in a windowed box. You have to wonder why all of the extra components for a pen? If you look hard enough you will find many instances where the packaging could have been simplified.
When procuring your packaging form for your product it is important to understand what functionality the carton or container adds. Sometimes the container is the product (ie a box of tissue). Does the container provide space for marketing, help the product stand or hang in the retail environment or perhaps provide extra security? If most of the product is filler or a gimmick, consider reevaluating your packaging status in order to free yourself from the glutton stigma.
Lust There's an old adage that "sex sells". No argument here, but as another adage goes "there is a time and a place for everything". Inserting lust into your packaging strategy by form or in a graphical nature should be done when the brand warrants it and not just to boost attention.
A good way to combat lust is to be aware of how shapes, colors and graphics affect gender biases in multiple cultures. Sometimes these components will have the opposite affect of their intention. Again, the main strategy here is to know your audience and to anticipate any reactions to your product.
Wrath Most of us have experienced the wrath of packaging at one time or another. Wrath is actually the cause of many a hospital trip. Remember the last time you had to take out a pocketknife, chainsaw or the "jaws of life" to get your electronic gizmo out of its plastic tomb? In the name of theft prevention, companies returned to the oyster or clamshell package that not only produces thieves and children from getting at the product easily but in most cases well-armed consumers as well.
Clamshell packaging may seem like a cost saving solution but if you have a product that you wish for your consumers to purchase more than once, you may think about the wrath they will end when they experience your product for the first time. You are almost guaranteed that will be the only time. There are many alternatives in the market and hopefully you will find one that works for you. Just think of the lives you will be saving!
Greed The trickiest of all packaging sins to prove is greed as there must be conclusive evidence of intentional deception for monetary gain. Most of greed accountability falls squarely on marketing tactics and consumers must be savvy shoppers to catch greed in the act, but if it exists, they will.
Some lines have products that contain the same ingredients and will perform the same tasks but they are sold as different products. Companies will do this because they feel the consumer will not understand that the original formula has multiple uses. Is this a method of communicative marketing or a way of getting consumers to buy multiple products from the same line? Consumers that catch this may think they have been hoodwinked.
The days of complicated choices are coming to an end. People are inundated with choices every day and are looking to simplify the way they live and shop. If you can accurately market your product for multiple purposes, then you will most likely gain a loyal customer, enjoy lower marketing and production costs, and sell more of a product you can focus on.
Sloth The most annoying of sins, sloth shows a complete lack of effort when it comes to packaging and branding. Those who are guilty of sloth usually embody a few of the other sins as well; especially envy and pride. These are the brands that just follow the herd because they are too lazy to do their own research. They have a product, need a box, slap some graphics on it and sit back expecting to make millions.
If being successful were easy, everyone would be doing it. Successful brands and products take effort and a lot of it. This includes knowing who would want to buy your product, how to best capture your audience and how to communicate with them. More advice on this matter could be given but those filled with sloth would not have gotten this far the article if they bothered to read at all.
Some of these deadly sins are easy to fall into while others are conscious decisions. Just remember, you will have consumers that will call you out on these issues should you slip into them whether you mean to or not. Be diligent and genuine in your branding decisions and overly careful of your packaging choices and your brand will most likely soar.