A good packaging fulfills several roles, some are functional (container, protector, logistics…) and many others are of an emotional nature (experience, award, pride…). It is to be expected that the former, more tactical, will usually be well resolved; But the latter, of a strategic nature, often fail in their contribution to brand building.

You have to remember that packaging starts and ends with the brand. For this reason, it should not be relegated to one of the 4Ps of marketing, but should be considered at a level closely linked to the construction of a strong brand, that is, of value for the company, under a global perspective defined by branding.

A Question of Balance

Despite the fact that corporate brands continue to gain greater relevance in the market, in many cases they had a secondary role compared to product brands that acquired a pivotal role between the corporate brand and customers. And the truth is that many product brands have basically been built on marketing principles but not on branding. The problem lies when it is well known that branding creates long-term value and, on the other hand, marketing only seeks to place the product on the market and obtain a quick return. Of course, the key is to find the right balance between short-term results (sales) and medium-long expected results (engagement).

With this in mind, packaging strategy should not focus solely on design to meet specific needs of the marketing department. A global vision is necessary, sponsored by the brand area, capable of merging innovation, sustainability, production, logistics, marketing, communication, sales… always with the focus on the customer.

To achieve this, as in any other strategic process, there are a series of steps that help in defining the roadmap and making decisions. In this case I have summarized them on three levels: Sense, sensibility, desire.

The Three Levels of Packaging

A- Sense

Packaging must make sense of society’s demands. Today, sustainability and digitalization are driving major changes at all levels, including in consumer packaging. On the one hand, we cannot turn our backs on sustainability, which is no longer an option. In any sustainable packaging initiative, three fundamental variables converge that must be aligned in a coordinated manner: cost, sustainability and performance. Sustainable packaging helps businesses reduce their impact on the environment, but it also increases customer loyalty, as people seek to reward companies that are doing something for the environment.

On the other hand, in the age of technology, it is important to review how we get products to market. Of course, the internet has radically changed the world we live in. Today we demand to be able to choose wherever we are and obtain it quickly, with all that this means for retail. The problem lies in understanding the extent to which the online world can affect the way brands experience offline.

For packaging, the solution is not to achieve a symbiosis of both worlds in a single scenario, but to get the best of each of them to create a common and differential imaginary in the minds of customers. Of course, a consumer will not be too affected by the information that appears on a pack when making an online purchase, however, the information that appears about the brand and the product on its respective portal will be important. On the other hand, you will surely value how you receive the product at home, giving greater relevance to transport packaging.

Again, putting the customer’s interests at the center is the foundation of any strategy. For today’s consumer, the shopping experience is much more meaningful than the mere fact of purchasing the product. Digital advances make it possible to enhance one of the most valued aspects of their relationship with brands: personalization, understood in the sense that it establishes a direct brand-customer relationship, and offers a certain sense of exclusivity.

Digitalization also brings the possibility of turning packaging into a powerful source of information for customers and the organization. The digital identification of packaging manages to connect the customer with a parallel world to which the brand wants to convey them; and, on the other hand, it allows you to obtain traceability tracking, which is interesting for customers and companies by ensuring the quality of the content.

B- Sensitivity

Living beings respond to external stimuli. Good packaging is capable of influencing customer behavior in multiple ways. It can be the difference between picking a product on a store shelf or taking a competitor’s product. It can contribute to gaining a customer for life, or losing them just as easily. Just note that with the increase in online shopping, more customers say that good packaging is “what excites them most when they receive a package”. As a fact, unboxing videos get 10,000 million monthly views.

There’s no denying the importance of good packaging. And today, in a world submerged in immense noise, simplicity is what allows you to stand out from the crowd. The motto of minimalism is “omit the unnecessary.” For consumer packaging, this means reducing packaging materials and also reducing the visual aspects of the design. Minimalist packaging combines aspects such as ecology, usability and beauty in a unique, intelligent and distinctive-looking medium. But minimalism in packaging design is not the absence of design, but the ability to synthesize what is truly important to convey a brand message in a clear and concise way.

Minimalist packaging designs don’t contain graphic elements that distract customers from the main focus. Therefore, products with a minimalist design tend to stand out from others because they convey a highly specific brand message in an instantly understandable way. This allows the customer to easily identify the item and make a quick purchase decision.

In addition, minimalism also contributes to the reduction of environmental impact. The reduction of materials and the simplification of production actively contribute to the environmental impact and the transmission of values linked to sustainability.

C- Desire

Desire is the main weapon to win in the decisive moment of truth against a shelf saturated with products. It is a battle that must be won in two steps:

  • Getting Attention
  • Be the chosen one

The first is linked to the two previous levels (sense and sensitivity) that will have contributed effectively to this equation. The second will be intertwined with trust towards the brand, built from the meaning it represents, previous experience and recommendation; aspects that should counteract possible promotions or better prices from the competition.

Often, packaging strategies are mistakenly articulated from a purely tactical objective based on attracting attention and being attractive, perhaps even achieving sales increases. But only if they are articulated from a global perspective that is born from the brand strategy itself, is it possible to strengthen engagement, loyalty and desire; In other words, brand value is created.

A Parallel Reality

Before the advent of e-commerce, people visited brick-and-mortar stores to do their shopping. That allowed you to see, touch, smell, receive personalized advice… But the rise of online shopping means completely different shopping experiences. Most online purchases are based on the activation of other stimuli, other emotions.

Packaging is an opportunity to connect emotionally with customers under a revised gaze, adapted to this new reality, forced to strengthen the brand’s values and raise perception. No company that invests heavily in product development should relegate packaging to a container function. Once you get packaging that instantly connects with customers, brand awareness and recognition will automatically benefit.

 

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward