Homegrown: The power of the pack
by Lynne Gordon (@lynne_gordon) I’m a padstal junkie. Dotted along the roadside of Mzansi, home industries and farm stalls call out en route to destinations outside my urban jungle, and I’m drawn in and lost to aisles of homemade jam and preserves, likely to emerge laden with jars of all colours and flavours. It’s worth noting that I don’t eat jam. But the power of packaging draws me in every time, evoking an image of homemade goodness, ouma’s jams on the stovetop, and happy childhood breakfasts.
Packaging has the fundamental ability to entice us to buy, distinguishing brands at the moment of truth where marketing really matters — at the shelf. But can packaging do even more for the brand experience, surpassing the shelf and the moment of usage, to have impact and power beyond its intended function?
What’s in a pack?
Shopper and packaging experts have long highlighted the critical importance of packaging to a successful consumer journey. A great portion of purchase decisions is made instore, standing before increasingly cluttered shelves. And research now estimates that shopper decisions are made in as little as five seconds at shelf. Packaging that stands out, attracts appeal, and creates recall could not be more important. But in a new world of escalating marketing costs and growing communication clutter, can the role of packaging go beyond the shelf?
Smart marketers are creating impact with packaging that transcends its given parameters to become a carrier of the brand DNA in new and more powerful ways.
Packaging for engagement
Packaging that acts as a bridge to content and entertainment may enhance and extend engagement with your brand to amplify your role in and beyond occasions in which the product itself is used. Pizza Hut transformed its boxes into projectors, making the brand a catalyst for movie night with friends. McDonalds has announced a pilot of Happy Goggles, transforming its Happy Meal box into a virtual reality gaming consol.
Packaging for experiences
Packaging designed as a distinctive and integral part of the brand experience may create anticipation, desire and brand love before the product is even used. The “unboxing” of an Apple device is a seamless, simple, beautiful experience that mimics the DNA of the brand user experience itself, spawning millions of views on YouTube channels dedicated simply to unwrapping the packaging of new iPhone devices.
Packaging for enhanced utility
In Nigeria, medicine packaging from GSK has incorporated the essential capability to check for counterfeit medicines. By including an authentication code on all packs, consumers are able to SMS their code to a validation service that checks the medicine’s origin, helping to ensure effective medication in a market where the WHO estimates that 30% of pharmaceutical drugs are counterfeits. Enhancing personalisation, Diageo used QR codes on its whiskey bottles to allow consumers to upload a personalised message for Fathers’ Day whiskey giftpacks.
Packaging for change
For Lush, packaging — or the passion to get rid of packaging — makes a statement about the brand’s desire to make a positive impact upon the planet. Customers are encouraged to “go naked” — eliminating packaging entirely — and the brand has pioneered products, such as bar shampoo, which do away with the need for plastic bottles for beautycare products.
Closer to home, the Fair Food Company aims to introduce a healthy new superfood alternative — edamame beans — to replace junk food for South African consumers. To educate consumers and drive trial, THB Disturbance took on the challenge and created One Smart Bean, a takeaway box milled from discarded edamame pods and printed with vegetable inks to create all-sustainable packaging.
Lessons for marketers
Designing packaging with cut-through and clarity, packaging that’s compelling and functional, has never been more important. But the winners in the packaging game will go beyond the principles of good design, making packaging an integral part of their brand’s message and meaning.
For marketers, considering how to draw consumers into a bigger experience of their brand using packaging allows us to enrich the role of the materials already essential to the brand’s delivery, and pave new opportunities towards more-holistic brand engagements.
Lynne Gordon (@lynne_gordon) is the managing director at strategic marketing consultancy Added Value. She learned marketing on the job and is fascinated by the streets of South Africa, where small entrepreneurs — untrained as marketers — apply the art and science of branding to their businesses.
Her monthly MarkLives column, “Homegrown”, explores everyday businesses and the lessons corporate marketers can learn from the streets of Mzansi. Share your own observations, photos and examples of marketing from SA’s roadside with @lynne_gordon on Twitter.
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