What Is Your Product Saying to Consumers?
Second, and equally important, the package is really the only vehicle that you have 100% control over in-store. While your product can end up in the wrong location or shelved in the wrong direction, the package remains a constant, and once it has a consumer's attention, it starts conveying your message. Displays may not make it out to the floor, or may not be assembled correctly, or can be overlooked by the shopper; indeed, shelf vehicles may be missed altogether. Thus, it is vital to get the communications right on the package. The first step is to decide what message you want packaging to convey to consumers.
|An Ad Age Insights Trend Report|
|First in a series of quarterly reports in 2011 on Shopper Marketing, this report examines relationships between marketers, retailers and advertising agencies and how to best structure shopper marketing practices. The next report in this series will publish in April.|
Many marketers assume that the role of the package might be to "stop the consumer" or to "close the sale." But if we explore further and ask "who is the consumer?" and "how do we intend to close the sale?" we reveal a variety of roles for the package.
Let's take a look at just three. A package can attract new users rather than just retain current users, often a truly artful balancing act. A package can also be updated to communicate a new positioning for the brand. And third, packaging can close a sale with the consumer in store.
Attracting new consumers vs. retaining current ones
First, it's important to understand whom the consumer is that we are trying to engage. Is it current consumers? New users? Are we trying to transition the brand from one user group to another? These directions give way to different design strategies and considerations.
In contrast, recall the much talked about Tropicana redesign that was hastily withdrawn from market earlier last year. The design was so disruptive that it was not easily recognizable to current users, who were likely to just "grab and go" in the juice refrigerators. As a result, alienated shoppers did just "go," and the brand lost significant volume overnight. Ultimately, brands must strike a careful balance in keeping the brand recognizable to current users while also making it disruptive to new users. As it appears, Tropicana weighed communicating to new users over driving recognition, and missed achieving that critical balance.
In 2009, Bath & Body Works re-staged its core Signature Collection line. With the update, the packaging was designed to communicate that Bath & Body Works was more sophisticated, more elegant and more premium, also supported by improved product formulations. Additionally, the packaging played a key role in supporting new and improved in-store marketing and navigation. Here, by integrating package design, product design and in-store marketing, the brand was able to holistically communicate a new positioning.
According to the company, successful test-market sales led to a nationwide rollout and the company also witnessed improved perceptions of the brand in equity measurements.
Closing the sale
In order to close a sale, it is important to understand how the consumer will respond to simple claims vs. the need for extended education at shelf.
Is your packaging achieving the goals you have for your product? If not, it might be time to revisit what your products are communicating from store shelves.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR|
James Black is a marketing consultant based in New York. Previously, he was the brand manager in P&G's "first moment of truth" team focusing on in-store and shopper-marketing capabilities.