Packaging a Compelling Customer Experience.
“Consumers are less brand loyal than
ever”. . .marketers lament. News flash: Maybe the fault doesn’t
lie with a “fickle” consumer, but with companies themselves.
There’s nothing like a slowing economy
to force companies to address customer issues. Pushing more innovative
consumer products into the pipeline, lowering prices to increase value
perception and to counter competitive pricing and making customer service
improvements are all typical responses. Yet, working on a couple of
customer touch points is an inadequate approach.
Companies’ focus ought to be on designing
the total customer experience, aligning every customer touch
point and cementing greater loyalty to their brands, in the process.
Isn’t it time to develop a comprehensive, top to bottom customer
Think of all the touch points customers
interact with. Designing and aligning the web site, customer service
call center, IVR system, product literature, advertising and packaging
to deliver consistent, positive customer experiences is crucial to a
company’s success. Of these, packaging is arguably the most important
customer touch point, since it delivers brand and product into the customer’s
hands. It’s the tangible representation of both.
Packaging that Delivers.
While capital expenditures are being
cut these days, investing in experiential packaging ought to be considered.
By taking a short-term loss in marketing ROI vis-à-vis packaging now,
companies can position themselves to retain customers and market share
for the long-term. It’s important to keep loyal customers for the
present, while positioning to gain new customers when the economy improves,
yielding higher ROI in the future.
Strategy and design are the tools that
enable companies to design packaging that delivers a great experience;
one that is emotionally connecting to the targeted customer. To do that
successfully, research must answer key questions.
- Who is the customer and how
- has that customer evolved?
- How can the company match
- the customer’s goals?
- What are the customer’s
- What does the customer value?
Too often packaging is as commoditized
as the products they contain. Without unique brand characteristics,
structure and a communications hierarchy that make product and brand
relevant to the target consumer; that meets their goals and expectations,
packaging is not the effective sales closer it should be. If packaging
was designed from an experiential perspective it would be far more compelling
McCormick, manufacturer of spices and
seasonings, elevates commodity products through experiential packaging.
Even though consumers’ busy lifestyles have made it difficult to cook
as much as they used to, McCormick has remained relevant to consumers
since its founding in 1889.
Over time, the company has quietly updated
its line with proprietary seasoning blends, sauces, marinades—and
new packaging. Economic down-turns have consumers turning to McCormick
in increasing numbers, as they eat out less and cook at home more. McCormick’s
business is booming as a result.
Hot new additions have been getting a
lot of buzz. McCormick still offers its basic line of herbs and spices
packaged with its famous red label and cap, updated, yet retaining its
heritage brand identity. Responding to trends well, McCormick offers
additional lines of new products. A gourmet line of more exotic selections,
including some organic selections, is packaged with distinctive sage
green cap and black and gold labels, depicting natural herb plants and
spices. The line is marketed to people who “cook with love and passion”.
The striking “Grinders” line, gives
consumers a touch of “gourmet” for their home-cooked meals. By designing
bottles with inset grinders, consumers are offered the ultimate freshness.
They can grind just the right amount of black peppercorns, sea salt
or blended seasonings. No need to spend more money on expensive spices
and mills from a specialty store or catalog.
Ethnic seasoning blends, Grill Mates,
Slow Cooker Soups and Crusting Blends are all designed to help the time-strapped
home cook make flavorful, home-cooked meals in a short period of time.
All are packaged to effectively deliver a short, targeted message at
The company offers great recipes, tips
and ideas for the home cook in a highly navigable web site and invites
customers to join the site to share their own favorite recipes and tips
with other readers, forming a community for cooking enthusiasts in the
Result? McCormick maintains its position
as the largest spice company in the world with $2.9 billion in sales
in 2007; 10% of that volume coming from the introduction of its new
products. The company has elevated customer perception with gourmet
style products and met the critical threshold of cooks’ expectations
while offering greater value. Why buy competitors’ products or cheaper
How about Method’s packaging? Method’s
environmentally-safe home and personal use cleaning products feature
beautifully-designed, clear packaging on many of its products. Packaging
for the entire Method line has the look and feel of upscale cosmetic
packaging. Talk about experiential!
An examination of environmental cleaning
products shows that there’s a great deal of similar bill-board-type
packaging in the category. Only Method’s packaging is strikingly different.
Contemporary, clean, refreshing. As Method’s web site states: “(co-founder)
Eric (Ryan) knew people wanted cleaning products they didn't have to
hide under their sinks”. Not only does this product claim cleaning
effectiveness and safety, it’s meant to be seen. What a concept for
While a number of eco-conscious cleaning
products are on the market now, why is it that Method has garnered nearly
a whopping $100 million in sales in a slow-growth category? Why is it
that the brand has also created a community of avid brand loyalists?
Products that are made to be seen, are obviously grabbed and used more.
More product used, faster repeat sales. Since there are myriad cleaning
products on the market, including eco-friendly options, it’s apparent
that Method’s experiential packaging accounts for part of the brand’s
Let’s face it: packaging that delivers
a great experience is enjoyable and memorable to consumers. Removing
customer frustration, and potential sources of disappointment, while
unlocking the relevant drivers around branded products that fulfill
customer expectations and help them reach their goals, can best be delivered
by packaging. It can—and should--seal the deal, leading to that elusive
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.