Getting personal with your packaging

In a highly competitive market, getting up close and personal with consumers is imperative for brands to stay ahead of the game. Although brands use various marketing strategies to connect with their target audience, many miss a trick by under-estimating the power of their packaging. Good packaging not only improves the direct interactive experience of consumers but can also a useful tool to help build a personal bond, a connection.

Through packaging an instantaneous, face-to-face bond can be achieved. Competition has grown to such an extent that consumers want so much more than a great looking product. With a multitude of options on the table, captive audiences have become picky and their requirements have changed significantly. It’s a buyer’s market, and it’s time for brands to up their game and fight to become a product of choice.

Packaging made for me

Remember when seeing your name in an email subject line seemed like a revolutionary advancement in digital marketing? Today, personalised packaging and products offer consumers unique tailored experiences to keep them engaged but this requires a far more planned and strategic approach by brands. One thing's for sure personalised experiences are becoming essential to remain competitive in a crowded and increasingly savvy marketplace.

Consumers are increasingly drawn towards products and packaging that appears to be made exclusively for them. Research has shown that personalised packaging makes products feel more valuable and brands are now leveraging this insight and strategically to form a better consumer connection.

Evolving technology

Personalisation has been off-limits for many companies up until now, primarily due to cost implications and overall complexity. But technology is evolving and many cost-effective solutions are now becoming available. While conventional printing techniques, such as offset, are still cheaper than digital – at least for bigger runs – this margin is decreasing all the time.

With the advancement in technologies like digital printing, even smaller brands with more limited budgets are able to foray into this space, albeit it on a smaller scale. Digital technology has made it faster and easier to add individual names and designs to packaging via variable printing. But how else can brands leverage the technology to engage consumers on a personal, emotional or even local level cheaply and easily? 

Available to all

Product personalisation and packaging is not only for FMCG companies. Other service based sectors are also jumping on the bandwagon and starting to adopt similar strategies. Interflora, a well-known flower delivery network started an online service where customers could personalise and modify their own flower bouquet by simply ‘dragging and dropping’ their preferred flowers from the various options available. As the customers were involved in the whole process of planning the end product, the strategy worked really well.

Mass customisation

As we enter the age of Industry 5.0, we already find ourselves in the era of mass customisation – you don’t have to look far for examples. Budweiser’s Lionel Messi ‘644 goals’ campaign and the Heinz ‘Get Well Soon’ soup labels are two examples of campaigns executed well.  

Coca-Cola were one of the first adopters of mass-scale personalised packaging with what is quite possibly one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time. Through their #ShareACoke campaign, which encouraged consumers to purchase bottles with their names, or their most recent #SayItWithCoke campaign featuring Indian heart-throb Ranbir Kapoor, the brand has been successful in connecting with younger target consumers.

Say my name

But why is using someone’s name so powerful? Apparently, it’s one of the most effective ways to instil a sense of importance in another person, as well as creating a long-lasting impression. Think of it like a brand’s version of a firm handshake. For brands aiming to create personal and one-to-one connection with audiences, it tends to be a simple but highly effective approach. With consumers supposedly taking an average of three to seven seconds to pick a drink from a supermarket shelf, using a name is an instantaneous way of capturing the consumers attention during that first moment of truth.

Ever since Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, the use of  names on packaging has been the go-to strategy for increasing consumer engagement and driving sales. But eight years on, it’s time to go beyond consumers’ first names and start leveraging digital technology and data to truly get even closer to consumers.

Data-driven insight

Today's brands are looking for new and innovative ways to reach out to their target audiences and tools to help enhance consumer experiences in more consumer-centric and engaging ways. Various studies suggest that over 50 per cent of millennial and Gen Z consumers are drawn towards brands that offer personalised products or services. Studies have also found that a high percentage of consumers would also be happy to share their data in return for a more targeted personalised experience. Customer data is already driving massive changes in the way products are brought to market, and this trend is also starting to influence packaging design.

Data insights can enable brands engage specific target market consumers. A brand can target diverse markets based on demographics, geographical area, and interest, and try to understand consumer requirements in more detail.  Adopting this method requires brands to carry out large-scale research to be sure of the right strategy and play on the emotional and psychological behaviours of consumers. 

Emotional engagement

Consider how the packaging for the same confectionary product might differ if targeted to millennial consumers versus baby boomers. Which product features could you call out for different markets or which recipes would be more appropriate to share with each target consumer? Data can unlock the true purpose of personalised packaging, which is to focus on engaging a consumer emotionally, rather than simply grabbing their attention in the short term. And it’s through emotional engagement that brands can nurture and ensure stronger consumer loyalty.

Do your homework

In summary, delivering contextual customer experiences in today’s crowded marketplace is no longer a “nice to have” - it’s an expectation.

Today’s consumers gravitate towards brands that appear to listen, understand them, and pay attention to their specific needs and desires. That’s where personalised packaging comes into its own. It’s a way for brands to contextualise their message and product experience they deliver, according to each visitor’s unique profile, and communicate these to consumers through a unique packaging experience. Personalised packaging executed well drives engagement and builds relationships.

It’s important to remember, however, that personalised packaging needs to work for target consumers and brands alike. Do your homework and don’t just jump on the personalisation bandwagon and hope for for success; these days, gaining the consumer insights you need to make informed decisions about your target audience is a science, not an art. Robust consumer insight data will allow you to develop a personalisation strategy that will lead to greater engagement with both your product and brand, ultimately delighting consumers.