Originally posted February 2011
We all know that packaging does more than serve as the container for your product, and that labels do more than tell consumers what’s inside. They’re both key manifestations of your brand. So, why do some marketers shoot themselves in the foot when it’s time for a packaging redo?
Here’s an example. My favorite brand of shampoo recently changed its packaging and labeling from the bright color/white lettering I could easily spot on the retailer’s shelf. Because I believed my favorite brand was no longer available I reluctantly purchased a competitor’s brand. A few weeks later I found that my product had been there all along, disguised in reshaped, resized and redesigned packaging with a new font that made it hard to see and read the product name. Worse, the debut of the smaller packaging was accompanied by a hefty price increase.
Truthfully, it was time for the brand to make a change. The once trendy packaging looked dated and stodgy. As for the price increase – manufacturers are in business to make a profit and sometimes you have to increase prices. The problem was that the packaging strategy and rollout seemed disconnected to the brand, and the consumer’s potential reaction completely overlooked or ignored.
So, how do you ensure your packaging strategy achieves business objectives without alienating customers?
Start with your brand positioning strategy. Once established, your brand positioning strategy shouldn’t change radically. But it is important to make course corrections from time to time as your market evolves, your product matures, and competitors innovate. Regularly revisit the core components of your brand positioning strategy to ensure your brand maintains relevance in the marketplace. A recent example: PepsiCo Inc. abandoned the 59-ounce cardboard cartons for their Tropicana Pure Premium juices and replaced them with clear plastic carafes when research showed that “consumers like to see the juice.”
With a solid brand strategy in place, plan how your packaging can reinforce the brand to your core target audience. Ensure the brand strategy is communicated to the design team. Keep an open mind and evaluate concepts based on the brand strategy rather than personal preferences. Test concepts with your target audience, but use feedback as a guide, not a dictate. No component of your packaging is inconsequential – make sure that all elements, including the label, work together to sell the brand and are easily distinguished from competitors.
These days, consumers are more focused on value than ever. If you need to change sizing, raise prices, etc., remind customers why your brand is the best choice for them. Leverage your packaging strategy to create opportunities to reinforce the brand’s value proposition.
Once launched, communicate new packaging to retailers as well as customers. Use display materials and product merchandising to make it easy for customers to find your product. Utilize advertising (traditional and online) social media, email/direct mail materials, press announcements, etc. to tell loyal customers what to expect and how to find products with the redesigned packaging. Consider product promotions to bridge price increases to keep customers from straying to the competition.
Packaging redesigns are important components of an effective brand strategy. Sticking to the above guidelines will maximize your chances of attracting new customers without confusing or losing loyal ones.