May 04, 2017

Personalizing to create WOW packaging

Why has personalizing packaging become such an important fact to sales success on the retail shelf?

What is Personalization? Personalization of packaging is the process of tailoring product packaging design to individual target market or person’s name, characteristics or preferences.

Personalizing packaging to create WOW packaging

New consumers are the foundation for the long-term success of a brand. No news here right? The challenge for Brand marketers is to break the consumers entrenched shopping habits and ferret out first-time customers successfully and then convert them across to regularly buying their product/s and brand.

We live in a highly complex retail and multiple platform shopping environment. This is especially true in the ever changing retail landscape. The result of which has seen the success of products on shelf have been taken out of the hands of marketers with factors such as  distribution, retail pricing, shelf placement, POS displays, etc becoming the keys to on-shelf product success. That said, packaging design is still seen as one of the very few tools that brand managers can still control. Therefore they have to make their packaging count!

Supermarket research consistently reports that we only have between 3 and 7 seconds to grab our targeted customer’s attention. So the big question is how do we create packaging that makes the consumer go….WOW! How do we get them to choose your product and put it into their shopping trolley?

In Phillip Kotler’s latest book, Marketing 4.0, he suggests 3 key characteristics which make a consumer go WOW!

The Kotler’s 3 WOW’s characteristics are:

  1. Surprise – (See the blog post on creating surprise HERE)
  2. Personalization
  3. Contagious.

This blog post will look at Kotler’s Marketing 4.0 second element for creating WOW when personalizing packaging.

Personalization is the key WOW’ser which can only be triggered by the person experiencing it…When it comes to designing a product pack that say’s “personal”, there are 3 key elements that must be considered.  

Personalization on pack is …

  1. Understanding your target customer
  2. Calling directly to them from the shelf
  3. Make “me” feel special

Does “personalization” really make a difference?

Everyone is the star of their own story! That’s the reason that personalised packaging works so well. Marketing your product to specific individuals, targeted groups and even geographic areas can create an instant connection to your product. This is much the same as how people who are from the same high school or expats often feel a sense of camaraderie when meeting for the first time.

2016 was the big year for individualized and personalised packaging campaigns. The shrinking costs of digital printing has meant that more and more companies have been able to take advantage of the technology and variable data to creatively to engage individually with their customers. The personalization trend began with direct mail and evolved to where 2016 saw household names like Coca-Cola, Heinz, Nutella, Heineken and other brands using smart personalization campaigns to target audiences.

Personalization is not just about the individual’s name

Individual names are not the only ways brand marketers can can personalise their packaging to attract shopper attention. Coke’s “share a Coke with (insert name here)”didn’t just apply digital printing only to creating individual names in their campaign. They also personalised  other popular phrases like “BFF,” “The Team,” “Family” and even “Wing-man.” Purchasing a personalised product helps the customer reflect his or her own identity.

When one thinks personalization, we immediately think of first names. That said, there are many other avenues for personalization. One can target specific groups, like teenagers, office workers, sporting teams, suburbs, music genre’s etc. All are great opportunities for companies to create really innovative, engaging packaging promotions.

Engaging customers on a more personal level is what they really want.

How irritated do you get when someone sends you a letter or bill with your name spelt incorrectly?

Digital printing technologies allow consumers the opportunity to customize products for themselves. The technology allows consumers to feel as though they are putting their personal mark on a particular chosen brand. In 2016 a spirits brand Whiskey Blender actually set up a website where individuals could log on and create their own blends from up to seven variants of the spirit and even design their own bottle label. Likewise, Heineken allowed customers to personalize six-packs of its beer and Nutella allowed consumers to place their own names or those of friends or family members on the pack itself. This kind of personalization has the potential to create brand new sources of revenue for brands.

According to research, “almost a quarter of Chinese customers said they would pay more for personalized packaging (Mintel), and 61% of US customers feel more positive about a brand when marketing messages are personalized (Forbes).

Personalizing packaging brings brands and shoppers closer together.

Affordable digital printing is bringing brands and consumers closer together. Digital printing technology allows brands to capture individuals attention using personalized packaging that can feature the consumer’s name, individualized designs and even photographs.

Whilst the big brand campaigns of 2016 attracted most of the attention with their publicized and personalised retail marketing campaigns, the technology now allows for niche and startup brands to get upfront and personal at a low cost of entry.

One-to-one communication using personalized packaging design

Digital printing now allows for true one-to-one communication with full colour variable data and messaging. The technology allows for highly personalized and customized seasonal promotional offers as well as easily testing of new formats without having to generate huge print runs. This method of variable packaging design which takes advantage of digital printing technology, has a significant impact on print cost management whilst elevating the consumer’s experience.

Know your audience

For a pack design to be successful on shelf it must speak to the targeted audience and to speak to them in ways that builds a connection with the brand. The lower costs of technical research applications, survey websites and online communities now allows even smaller brands to research their target audience. This can now be done for a fraction of the cost of typical old-school focus groups and research modes to understand and individualize their product pack packs. Brands can now easily specifically target not only their audience needs and interests, but also how they want to be personally recognised.

Listening to what they value- Capabilities of digital printing

Digitally printing short runs allows for true market place testing at the register, where it really counts. Satisfying consumer needs is best done by figuring out what appeals and engages best with the consumer. Traditionally this research is conducted with focus groups, surveys, online panels etc. This new printing technology will allow the Brand and Category Managers to test various designs on shelf allowing the consumer at the retail shelf to decide which design is most engaging and end up in the shopping baskets.

Today, the best tool a smart marketer their packaging designer can use is crowdsourcing. By utilizing survey sites and targeted online communities of those consumers who match your target customer demographic, your packaging designs can be placed literally in front of thousands of perfectly matched consumers. Have this targeted demographic profile vote on what they think is the most engaging packaging design. You can be armed with real survey results from 1000 potential target customers within 48 hours. With real data you can now make better decisions. When 72% of a surveyed audience point to “design number 1” as being “the best” it’s hard to argue against hard data like that. No amount of subjectivity or seniority or pure passionate intensity  for a particular design says WOW like real hard core data feedback. The numbers don’t lie.

Using digital printing to own the consumer.

Traditional paid marketing relies heavily on above the line marketing strategies. These marketing mediums are often saturated and challenging to get cut through to the targeted consumer. Traditional paid marketing methods are also hard to measure effectiveness.

With the ever increasing growth of social media, owned media channels, which are easier to measure, are also becoming progressively harder to gain traction. Today’s savvy marketers and brand managers are beginning to leverage consumer exposure that comes from earned media. They are taking advantage of the promotional publicity and exposure gained through digital printing’s ability to create one-to-one communication on the retail shelf. Creating a Wow pack on shelf that converts new customers, means that marketers are then able to leverage their packs as direct communication channel with specifically targeted markets.

Now your packaging design is now not simply about pretty pack on shelf surrounded by a sea of other pretty packs. Now your packaging has evolved to become a powerful marketing tool with direct contact with the targeted consumer.

With the level of ROI tracking available as a result of printing digitally, means that brands are able to quickly identify if a campaign is effective or not and easily pivot, making improvements where appropriate to improve the campaigns success.

Earned media now becomes measurable where it counts…at the checkout.

Personalization creates brand loyalty…even with Gen X, Y’s and Millennials

Most marketers have now become attuned to the fact that Gen X, Y’s and Millennials are no longer loyal to specific brands. That said, digital printing is now allowing Brands to target and drill down to specific and relevant markets, demographics, language and interest groups. Digital printing can speak directly to the target group’s “language and motivations”, thus increasing engagement and ownership.

Leveraging digital printing for personalized packaging

Packaging is media.  Your packaging is a billboard. It’s just a matter of rethinking what it can do, how often you can change it, and what content can be most suitable for what target…when!

From a packaging design agency perspective, the agency’s role is to consider how to take advantage and leverage the opportunities digital printing offers to maximize shelf output. Packaging designers should be looking at digital printing as an effective tool which can add real value to the brands they work with.

    • Short & long term focus – Digital printing solutions mean that packaging designers need to look to designing with both a short term and a long term objective in view. Innovative designers and packaging strategists will look for opportunities to design for multiple variants across a single SKU (Example: 1 SKU – multiple different labels.)
    • Responsiveness.– Being able to respond rapidly to the latest news. EG: Allowing a brand sponsors to incorporate winners onto packs the day after they win a sponsored tournament.
    • Designing For Trust.- Design to target individual demographics creates a sense of authenticity. Designing packaging using the idea of developing localized special editions. Now it’s no longer an Easter promotion, it’s now a “Greek Easter” promotion.
    • Brand evolution.– Using frequent changes to the pack design, both back and front, ensure the brand continually evolves and grows organically with changing market needs.

 Share-worthy packaging makes it personal

Today popular and successful brands have figured out how to dominate the social media landscape. Their products have “share worthy packaging”. Consumers of personalised packs will gladly boast about their product experience on Instagram, twitter or other social platforms. Individualized packaging encourages consumers to get fired up and share images of their purchase, online.  Social sharing is essentially free brand and product promotion. Website traffic, brand awareness and in store purchases can increase exponentially based on social shares.  

Packaging is boring, unless it delivers share-worthy signature moments” so sayeth USA based Design packaging Inc. To create signature moments means really thinking through the whole purchase process from the time the eye has been caught, to the engagement of the product on the shelf, all the way through to the unveiling and unpacking of the product at home. These can all be big socially share-worthy moments.  

Switched on marketers see real value in making the extra investment to develop personalized packaging that creates an experience more likely to be shared. That said it will behoove marketers to remember that millennials will share brands not because they like or are loyal to the brand, rather because they like and are loyal to their friends.

Using personalization to Wow!

Whilst forward-thinking marketers in many market segments have begun to apply personalization more and more to their portfolios, there is still huge substantial opportunity for growth right across the supermarket and hardware category.

Using digital printing technology makes the implementation and collation of variable data seamless across multiple market segments.  

So whilst the actual print process is relatively simple and easy, the old adage of “Proper prior planning prevents pitiful poor performance really applies. The planning and strategizing process for a successful personalization campaign may be significant due to the research and strategy needed to create a targeted, unique and engaging personalization campaign.  

Refreshing your packs with personalization design

To remain competitive you are going to update your  update your packaging anyway. That being the case it may well be a boon for a lagging product or brand to activate a personalization strategy. That said the design must still stay true to the core values of your brand. The personalization design must still maintain your brand’s familiarity and relevance with it’s target audience whilst still driving change to engage a whole new set of consumers.

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