Did you know that there’s a new brand marketing trend? Brand marketers are actually using product packaging on the retail shelf as their new hero in the marketing mix?

With the ongoing tightening of marketing budgets, today’s brand marketers need to find a more…

  • measurable,
  • inexpensive
  • direct
  • effective…

means of attracting their targeted consumers.

Today’s brand marketers need a new marketing hero. Product packaging is the answer. How is this possible you ask? Two words, “digital printing“.

Digital Printing

The technological advancements in digital printing mean companies are able to use variations in creative messaging without the need for costly plate changes and wash downs. This efficiency enables short, efficient production runs. Savvy FMCG brand marketers are placing far less value on traditional above-the-line and below-the-line marketing methods. This is because of those methods inability to connect personally with consumers. Digital printing means that brands are now able to develop communications which speak directly to the targeted audience in a personalised manner. Digital printing can talk directly to the targeted audience right when they’re in the crucial decision making phase.

Above-the-line marketing has lost its shine.

Above-the-line marketing relies on mass media marketing to promote the brands and attract target customers.  Above-the-line marketing typically includes, TV, radio, print, and out of home billboards. This form of marketing uses a shotgun approach to target a wider spread of audience as opposed to individual consumers.  Above-the-line marketing is extremely costly to buy resulting in high customer acquisition costs.

Below-the-line marketing is still not targeted enough

Below-the-line marketing whilst seemingly offering brand marketers a more targeted and designed approach, can also be costly with high amounts of wastage. Below-the-line typically involves the

  • distribution of catalogues,
  • brochures,
  • pamphlets,
  • promotional material,
  • point of sale items and…
  • in store product demonstrations or sampling.

Whilst all of this sounds good in theory, there is a high degree of wastage.

Whilst traditional paid marketing using above the line and below the line marketing strategies to build brand and product awareness definitely still has a place in the marketer’s overall brand strategy. That said, one would have to admit they are expensive mediums that operate in a saturated market space. This means that for the brand marketer it has become challenging to cut through to the targeted consumer. Without the ability to personalise communications and connect directly with your audience, you are at the mercy of “spray n pray “marketing methods.

The growth of social media and the internet has emphasized the need for brand marketers to become multi-channel publishers across all of their brand touch points. Brand marketers need to take advantage of these direct & cost effective channels. They need to ustilise them both as a forum for a conversation with their audience and as an integration with their traditional below the line & above the line marketing.

Product packaging is Owned media?

Owned media is a marketing medium which is owned by the brand. Essentially this includes anything that the company has complete control over from:

  • a company’s website,
  • blogs,
  • mobile apps,
  • a presence on social media,
  • brochures and …
  • even company branded retail stores.

Product packaging is now considered to be owned media

This means that product packaging found on the retail shelf is now also considered to be owned media. Product packaging must therefore be considered with as much importance as a company website or social presence. One could argue that product packaging is even more important because brand marketers can use their product packaging as a form of owned media. The packaging can now take up a centerfold position and become the hero in your marketing mix.

Directed product packaging could also be earned media…

In the past earned media was seen to be the domain of publicity, generated through PR. The explosion of social media has meant that earned media today extends beyond this with a huge reliance on the new age word-of-mouth, social media. This societal shift towards a reliance (and love) of social media has meant brands are now able to open up a direct and personalised conversation with their audience. We’ve all heard of those amazing stories where something a brand did went viral overnight, both the good and bad. This highlights the need for marketers to be smart about their use of social media and capitalise on its ability to integrate with their traditional advertising methods and also with their product packaging.

The brand marketers that are learning to take advantage of this are cleverly fostering the viral nature of targeted promotional publicity and exposure their earned media generates. These marketers are leveraging technology, especially digital printing’s ability to create one-to-one communication, right there, on the retail shelf. Think about it…if you knew there is to be a huge sporting event coming up which your target audience really cares about…Think what the impact on your sales will be if you do a short production run with unique messaging or graphics, reflecting that knowledge, on your packaging. This kind of earned media marketing will allow you to capitalise on the buzz, excitement, relevance and ultimately join in on the conversation with your target audience.

Product packaging the on-shelf marketing hero.

Brand marketers are now using their product packaging on shelf as a direct communication channel with which to target a specific market. We know that converting owned media into earned media is a powerful way to increase your brand presence. That said, what this really means is that packaging design must be seen as not simply a pretty pack on shelf. Your product packaging is the beginning of a two-way conversation between you and your target audience. Product packaging design has become a powerful competitive marketing tool. This is not just because of the viral capabilities we discussed above, but also to personalise communications to specific target markets.

For Example: Developing unique packaging designs of various football clubs for sports fans which are then sold in select localised areas. So whilst you’re still talking to your target audience e.g. Males 25-54. However, you’re doing it in a far more personalised manner. You’re doing through your perceived shared support for their respective sporting team.

As we’ve said previously, this definitive message targeting has been made available to brand marketers and packaging designers alike because of digital printing technology.

Are you convinced yet?

So, have we convinced you that product packaging can be the new hero in your marketing mix? The truly one-to-one, highly personalised messaging and seasonal promotions you can implement with packaging design have the ability to massively impact the consumer’s experience and thus generate word-of-mouth brand/product growth like never before. Earned media is now being translated directly into sales at the checkout, simple.