Rethinking Package Design
Why is consumer product packaging still
viewed by many as a billboard? Its primary purpose to stand out on the
retail shelf with bold graphics and brand color? Its reason for being
to contain product? To entice the consumer to pick it up and purchase
it vs competitors’ products in crowded retail environments?
It’s time to change this prevalent
thinking. Packaging as billboard is yesterday’s idea. Today, we need
to think beyond packaging as advertising space. Yes, it is essential
to get, and keep, consumers’ attention in retail environments. Yes,
packaging has to refer back to the brand and communicate that brand’s
unique attributes. But does it really have to shout to do that? Or,
is it better to whisper? In the midst of the chaotic din at retail,
what are consumers more likely to notice?
The point: consumers are far more sophisticated
now and they are looking for something they can relate to. That something
is packaging that is so well-designed, consumers want to interact with
the brand it represents over and over again. Rather than containing
mundane products they need to use, consumer packaging can deliver something
so extraordinary, it adds enjoyment and pleasure—thus a value-added
perception--to everyday items. So much so, that it never gets tucked
Rethinking package design can lead to
an all-important second moment of truth (SMOT) with consumers. Adding
a new aesthetic to functionality can accomplish that.
Designing a Total Customer Experience.
For many consumer product companies,
the emphasis is on product innovation, sales and marketing. As it should
be. Yet, a key element is missing. That element is design.
Design should really be the overall driving
force in consumer product companies. A few companies have taken this
idea and made it reality, enjoying great success. Think: Apple. It’s
readily apparent that Apple has a top-down design philosophy. It works
well since the company also has a bottom-up consumer-centric focus.
The two work in tandem. Apple puts the consumer first and then works
to design great user experiences.
With design-oriented thinking, stunning
new products and brand new categories have been made possible. Products,
product packaging, marketing and customer service are so well designed,
seamless, congruous and unique—they elicit the “wow factor” from
jaded consumers. iPod. iPhone. We can only anticipate what’s coming
Embracing design and integrating it into
marketing, IT, R&D, manufacturing, sales and customer care departments
is a challenge, requiring courage. Yet, every corporate employee can
and should be integrated into the design process. Not all of them are
involved in the actual design of products, services or packaging. But
they are all involved in designing the customer’s overall experience
in one way or another. Think of every department within the corporate
structure as being in the design business!
Some of the most successful consumer
product companies in the world have a design-centric philosophy. IKEA.
Williams-Sonoma. Nintendo. Disney. Other organizations have come to
the party more recently. Like Procter & Gamble. Since taking over
as CEO at P&G, Alan Lafley has steadily worked to incorporate design
into the entire company. In an interview, Lafley once stated: “We
want to design the purchasing experience. . .we want to design every
component of the product; and we want to design the communication experience
and the user experience. I mean, it’s all design. . .”
Lafley then named P&G marketing veteran
Claudia Kotchka, his first VP for Design Innovation and Strategy. Ms.
Kotchka promptly began changing P& G into what she called “a design-centric
culture”. It’s no small feat to integrate right-brained design thinking
into left-brained management personnel; especially in an organization
with a long-ingrained mindset and practices, but that’s exactly what
She also fearlessly integrated inside
design staff with outside design consultants, to produce the best results
possible. As she prepares to retire, expect her successor to pick up
where Kotchka leaves off.
The payoff of design-centricity? The
emergence of new product innovations, new categories—and even new
brands. Swiffer. Febreze. Crest White Strips. The upshot? As these broke
new ground, they weren’t sent out into the world without paying attention
to the experiential and design aspects of their brands, and they’ve
been tweaked as they’ve gone along.
“Always within reach”. . .
When Febreze first hit store shelves,
it had great distribution thanks to P&G’s enormous retail and
advertising clout. But after consumers used it for awhile, the fabric
odor eater wasn’t being used as often as P&G would have liked.
Hence, a sales slow-down.
Being customer experience oriented, P&G
marketers realized that consumers were using Fabreze in experimental
ways in their homes. Result? Febreze air fresheners, plug-ins, candles
and ingenious pairings with other P&G detergents and household cleaners.
Sales have gone through the roof and Febreze is now poised to become
the next billion dollar brand for P&G.
Now, P&G has leveraged its design-forward
mentality to launch the Febreze Décor Collection to rave reviews. Stylish,
clear packaging with beautiful botanical or raindrop graphics make the
latest Febreze line extensions stand-outs. Fresh, aromatherapy scents
are beautifully captured in soft graphics that whisper to consumers.
No billboards here. In laundry care aisles
packed with an splashy, bold, primary-colored billboard packaging, Febreze
Décor Collection is, literally, a breath of fresh air. Easy to spot
on retail shelves. Quick to establish a connection with consumers. The
threshold for the first moment of truth is easily met here.
The clear intention? To take Febreze
products out of cupboards or closets, enabling consumers to openly display
the beautifully-designed containers in their homes. The Décor Collection
web page unabashedly states: “Shameless display of freshness” and
“New uplifting freshness is always within reach”. How brilliant
No “out of sight—out of mind” where
these products are concerned. Consumers’ SMOT are fully engaged here.
With a product this beautifully displayed, Febreze provides visual enjoyment.
Better yet, it will be picked up and used with far more frequency than
ever before, hence, faster repeat purchases.
If more consumer product companies start
thinking in terms of designing the overall customer experience, and
rethinking package design like this, they will deliver their brands
in the most engaging manner.
Accomplishing this may take an outside-in,
rather than inside-out perspective, meaning that brand managers might
benefit from working more with outside design consultants who can bring
fresh insights to the table. Preferably, outside design talent that
can work seamlessly with inside design departments. But the result of
collaboration can be great. Just ask P&G.
Ted Mininni is president of Design Force
Inc., the leading brand design consultancy to consumer product companies
with Enjoyment Brands™. Design Force helps clients market brands
that deliver positive, gratifying experiences by connecting consumers
to brands emotionally with compelling visual brand experiences. Design
Force, Inc. can be reached at 856-810-2277, or online at www.designforceinc.com.