Packaging that Delivers at the Second Moment of Truth.


Consumer culture is in transition. Today,

consumers are less interested in purchasing products to meet their basic

needs. They are much more interested in engaging with brands whose values

satisfy them on an emotional level.

Brand managers are beginning to understand

that and they are positioning and packaging their products to meet this

new consumer mandate. While many are successful at meeting consumers

at the retail shelf in the FMOT—first moment of truth, as evidenced

by their ability to move them to make initial purchases, they haven’t

always thought it through to meet the SMOT—second moment of truth.

Not yet. If they did, there would be absolute loyalty—even fanatical

devotion--to brands.

To be fair, the first order of business

marketers and design consultants are charged with is to get the consumer

to pick up their product in the scant few seconds they’re scanning

the many choices they have on the retail shelf. But what happens after


Forget that we’re marketers, packaging

designers, retail experts. Let’s put ourselves in the consumer’s

place. Faced with a plethora of choices in virtually every product category,

to the point of saturation, what’s compelling? What’s engaging or

exciting? Consumers are bored now. They want to be entertained, or engaged

on an emotional level. Consumers aren’t responding to being marketed

to in the conventional sense. Why? They don’t want to be spoken to;

they want to be spoken with and engaged.

When standing in front of the retail

shelf, a structurally unique package looks interesting to the consumer.

The signature color, brand mark, and unique characteristics denote that

this a product from a recognized, trusted brand. So far, so good. Even

better: the packaging evokes something on an emotional level. It plays

to a lifestyle fit. It promises enjoyment, or fulfills another emotional

desire. Perhaps it offers a bit of promised pampering. Maybe it offers

some kind of security. Or it promises to be a healthier, more natural

choice. Why not take it home and try the product? Great.

Then what? Have we given the consumer

the potential for any “aah” moments? Now that they have arrived

precisely at the point where they are actually interacting with the

package, by opening it up to reveal its contents, what then? Here is

the best and greatest opportunity to engage the consumer. Have we succeeded

in doing that? Have we, in this second moment of truth, delivered the

brand in such a way as to engage the consumer completely?

If not, we have just squandered the moment when we could have delivered the single most satisfying interaction between consumer and brand. By delivering the ultimate experience with attributes to excite the senses—touch, smell, sound or taste—as well as the intangibles of well-being, luxury or pampering, fun or enjoyment in that moment, we can cement the relationship between consumer and brand in the most meaningful way. 

Heightening the consumers’ anticipation in an exciting manner as they are opening well-conceptualized packaging to reach the object of their desire—the product—will deliver the most memorable of experiences. If we are all intent on delivering a great brand experience, shouldn’t packaging be the centerpiece of our efforts? This is the touch point that makes our products tangible to consumers. It should deliver the ultimate experience.

How Packaging Can Deliver that SMOT.

When Apple packages its products like

the iMacs, new generation iPods or the iPhones, the company does so

with great deliberateness. Unwrapping the packaging reveals the products

and their components in stages, increasing the consumer’s excitement

every step of the way. This creates such an impact, many Apple devotees

keep the packaging, and even integrate it into their home or work space

décor. It is obvious that Apple uses every opportunity it has at its

disposal to create brand ambassadors, not mere consumers of its products.

A new frozen dessert line in the U.K.,

dubbed The Filthy Food Company, plays up the sinfulness of indulging

in decadent chocolate chilled desserts. The “Filthy” hand-scrawled

brand identity in chocolate brown on white packaging featuring a sensuous,

tactile “skin” that is strikingly unique. The tagline: “Obsessed

by Pleasure” hangs from the logo. Rich chocolates are photographed

on the packaging, oozing of forbidden goodness. Don’t these elements

motivate consumers to buy? Don’t these elements promise pure enjoyment?

In a stroke of pure genius, structural

packaging opens up to reveal a love letter to the chocoholic. The packaging

folds back to form a bowl, inviting the indulgence to begin at once.

Indulgence and forbidden pleasure is a story as old as mankind, and

here it’s being delivered via the packaging in a memorable way.

Even mundane, commodity products can

be packaged with great SMOT assets that are memorable and exciting to

consumers. And the packaging doesn’t have to be over the top to accomplish

this, either. For example, the new Bird’s Eye frozen vegetable packaging

is excellent. Strong fresh graphics on bags that enable consumers to

perfectly, evenly steam their vegetables in the microwave sans mess

make this packaging so pleasurable, consumers will quickly become adherents

of these products.

P&G’s Tide Simple Pleasures and

sister brand Downy Simple Pleasures tout four, long-lasting aromatherapy

fragrance combinations that are delighting consumers in color-coded

packaging. Guaranteed: consumers take the caps off to take a whiff of

these newest, best-received products in the laundry care sections of

supermarkets. Touting that “Clean never smelled so good”; offering

four unique fragrances that promise “A change of mood”, using ‘naturally-derived

essential oils’, all promise the consumer a sensuous, delicious experience.

Then, there’s the promise that the wonderful scents will go on and

on as garments are worn. . .

Campbell Soup Company has augmented its

packaging for its “Soup at Hand”products. Always marketed as “a

great way to eat right when you’re on the run”, Campbell’s has

thought its packaging for these products through a bit more. The sides

of the packaging have been slimmed halfway down to fit the consumer’s

hand more comfortably. But that isn’t all. For ease of use, Campbell’s

has added a plastic over-cap lid that pops off easily and features holes

for sipping. Under the lid, a peel-able foil comes off easily and the

plastic over-cap goes back on after the soup is heated, so that consumers

can enjoy sipping it on the go, sans mess. Online graphic feature these

simple instructions: “1. Pop the top. 2. Microwave. 3. Grab n’ go”.

The Point of It All. . .

By reorienting our thinking about packaging

and going beyond designing it to merely meet consumers’ FMOT; by stretching

the brand’s emotive and lifestyle assets further, into a SMOT, we

will have accomplished more than a sale. We will have engaged consumers

in a more meaningful way that begins to build enduring relationships.

Research has divulged 80% of consumers

are satisfied with the products they buy, but those 80% are not fanatically

devoted to the brands they purchase. That data demonstrably points to

the fact consumers are not engaged enough by the brands they are satisfied

with, to the point of loyalty, and devotion. Those consumers would just

as easily purchase another brand, in that case.

By designing packaging that leads to

a SMOT, we will have decidedly given the consumer a much deeper experience

with our brands. One that will make them not only loyal, but turn them

into brand evangelists.

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