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Opening up through packaging

By Jenny Stanley, Managing director

Appetite Creative


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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March 11, 2020 | 8 min read

Turn your packaging into your most potent marketing media/tool. Packaging has always been a vital element of a product's appeal, playing a disproportionately large part in our buying decisions. It remains just as important for those reasons, except that consumers are increasingly averse to packaging that is wasteful and hard to recycle. There are new rules to consider with packaging; where less is more and more is a problem.

Packaging Design Graphic

Appetite Creative reflect on the importance of packaging on the consumer's journey.

Being green with packaging has become a selling point, and consumers want to know precisely how green their packaging is. As more and more data becomes available to both buyer and seller, transparency is becoming an essential ingredient when talking about a successful product.

Recently, Pantone Color Institute announced that "Classic Blue" was its colour of the year - with executive director Leatrice Eiseman thinking the below on it: "We are living in a time that requires trust and faith," she says. "Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication."

It sums up a lot about where we are in 2020, open-mindedness, deeper thinking, and more communication all reflected in the choice of the winner. And we need to consider these aspects as genuinely crucial for all our packaging, whether we use the colour or not.

As we push the tech boundaries online, we must also push them to become more sustainable offline. We have the technology to create edible "plastic" coverings, plant-based packaging, compostable bottles and coffee capsules and much more. And we must not only use it but show our customers that we are doing so. The attraction of an innovatively green packaging solution can cause just as much of a stir as an innovative app.

Being transparent, we must also be confident that it reflects our core brand. Packaging can easily be and should be considered part of the connected experience that we need to be driving in 2020. It should be one more touchpoint that connects our brand to the user.

Packing can and will deliver us benefits if we use it intelligently and if we invest enough of our creativity. We should be looking for ways to make it work harder for us and offering our consumers more than just a wrapper, with the intent of providing a more personal and interactive experience through packaging. The very packaging, if creative and transparent enough, will help influence the choice, purchase and then give instructions and a direct channel for communication and feedback. As well as providing the buyer with an opportunity to connect to the brand and other like-minded customers, it will give the brand even more insight concerning opinions and feelings, all in real-time.

The beverage industry seems to have stolen a march on using radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensors in water bottles in bottles and coffee mugs, and this offers users an interactive channel via the tangible product they have in their hand. Take a health drink and use RFID to have it speak to the smart device in your pocket or on your wrist and you are not only immersing a consumer in a new way, but you are also designing a new place to collect first-party data.

We have recently seen campaigns using AR that create competitions through scanning cans of Coca-Cola's Rani Juice and this should be nothing more than a small opening in the door. Progress towards health goals can be aided by tracking consumption and sending reminders when we should be due for another glug. From the other side, the marketer can track peak hours and places from when and where the product is purchased, used, and even discarded.

In terms of B2B, we can offer still more honestly and openness by tracking a product from source to the shelf. The data will be traceable along its journeys, its factories, its warehouses and its delivery, and it will allow the consumer to make up their own minds by providing them with as much data as possible. As well as using packaging, and the excellent marketing techniques we are used to seeing, to make a bold statement on the shelf, we are now using packaging to open our doors, every step of the way, and show that we can be trusted, we are proud of our brand, and we have nothing to hide.

Re-centreing the experience

We are allowing consumers access behind the scenes, offering users experiences, and personalising experiences along the way. Our brand principles, from whichever angle they are seen from, will be the same and we invite our customers to be part of it.

The Internet of things, the connections between all of our devices from our toothbrush to our cars, means that we have the ability to put something as tangible as a crisp packet at the centre of an experience. Years ago, Homer Simpson was endorsing a cheesy flavoured tortilla snack, how good would it be if you could now scan yourself into the Simpsons home, via Disney+ and watch an episode while you crunch away. Again, its creating connections and immersing the client. A limited-edition energy drink can bring up limited edition x-games footage on your big screen just by being on your coffee table.

With fully connected experiences - you can transform your packaging into a media channel through the use of technology. Use QR codes on your packaging to connect your audiences to digital experiences.

Tetra Pak recently came to us, having been more focused than ever on their environmental impact and their sustainability work. They wanted an eco-themed idea to build a fun mobile quiz which tests the user's knowledge about recycling and Tetra Pak's environmental impact. And with good design and creative help, they were able to connect to thousands of users in a new and exciting way, at the same time as spreading their brand message.

German sausage giants Curry King, too, wanted to up their packaging game. With a simple AR scan, they suddenly opened a world of bar code scanning, augmented reality, image recognition, engaging Games, polls and surveys, data collection, sampling, discount vouchers, leaderboards, social sharing, and interactive Video. All this with nothing more than a scan of the packaging. All immersive and all as a bonus to the user.

Food and packaging is a big issue right now, as mentioned above, we need to be greener, and we need to find ways to offer more via it. A seemingly simple idea involved a pizza box, such a sinfully underrated tool, which contained a QR code. Users could then, on their phones, spin a roulette wheel to choose toppings before naming their unique creation. From here, we add sharing options, and suddenly pizza is even more fun to even more people. We created an app with Bicardi, too, which helped thirsty adults decide which cocktail they might want to make via a wonderfully immersive app.

"Serving suggestions" on the back of your Uncle Ben's rice can now be video recipes, it might be on a Jamie Oliver sauce bottle and the man himself is suddenly on-screen walking you through it. Again, share your creation with friends once it's done. Its full service that a mere bottle of sauce or packet of rice provides. Jamie Oliver tells you it's pukka and your friends are suddenly inviting you over to help them cook.

Marketers who embrace packaging as an avenue can understand things you didn't even know were connected by drawing on correlations between age, location, day, length of engagements and much more than we have space for here.

We are committed to being green, we are committed to our brand, and we are committed to offering more our customers, be they the end-user or the business looking at consumer habits. If you want to come and see for yourself, just pick up a box and have a look.

Jenny Stanley, founder and MD at Appetite Creative Solutions.


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