Many of us are familiar with the 5 Ps of Marketing that make up the ‘marketing mix’: the key elements used to position a business and its products strategically in the retail sphere and appeal to specific target markets. Though not one of the original elements, marketers are increasingly recognising the vital role packaging has to play, particularly in today’s fast-paced and more competitive retail landscape.
In understanding the incredible power packaging has to influence consumers’ shopping behaviour, it’s useful to examine and define exactly how packaging does this – returning to basics to lay the foundation for successful sales. Packaging actually has its very own 5 Ps, the perfect tool to understand and improve the efficacy of a product’s pack. These are: Promote, Position, Present, Provide and Protect.
Promotion is probably the most obvious of the traditional marketing mix elements as it pertains to packaging, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. Essentially it entails all the varied communication strategies used to help raise awareness of a product and persuasively sell its features and benefits to consumers. Traditionally, from a marketing perspective, advertising has been the obvious go-to when it comes to promotion but with ever more platforms to consider in the form of the evolving social media landscape and the cost of traditional TV advertising on the rise, it’s worth looking closer to home to find the most cost-effective way to engage shoppers.
Many products primary requirement for packaging is its functionality but it is also an often undervalued tool when it comes to promotion. When consumers come into physical contact with packaging, it’s a brand’s last chance to persuade them to buy and can often make the difference in whether or not they place an item in the basket, be that through promoting the brand’s story, communicating lifestyle values or developing an emotional connection.
Personalisation, for example, is a hugely effective way of triggering a visceral emotional connection through communicating with consumers on an individual level and making them feel truly special and valued. It is with consumer engagement in mind that DataLase has created its VAReLaseTM solutions, harnessing the power of its novel Photonic Printing technology to deliver late stage customisation of products and packaging, allowing brands to create unique time-specific marketing campaigns to excite and engage consumers.
VAReLase Label Solutions combine DataLase laser-reactive coatings with a unique laser system in which hundreds of individually addressable laser beams are set in a linear array, each producing a single pixel that can be controlled to print virtually any graphic, text, or unique identifier. DataLase is also in the process of commercialising its ground-breaking VAReLase Cup Solutions, which will allow brands to customise hot drinks packaging at the point of sale, a revolutionary new way of connecting with consumers through packaging.
Product positioning involves both the physical placement of a product in-store and brand positioning in the eyes of consumers. In terms of physical placement, this encompasses everything from which stores sell a brand’s products to where a product is displayed in-store and how these affect overall product and brand perception. The power of this cannot be underestimated. For example, cereal giant Kellogg’s recently trialled relocating its products in US supermarket chain Meijer to be next to the fresh produce aisle, in the hope it would experience the ‘halo effect’ of being near healthy fruits and vegetables and deliver a corresponding sales boost.
Though brands cannot usually dictate exactly where products are put on display, they can use the power of packaging to influence where retailers are likely to stock certain items, not to mention the corresponding shift in consumer perception. Using colour as a signifier of a product’s ingredients or nutritional attributes can lead a retailer to position it alongside similarly packaged items. For example, despite their high sugar content, fruit roll-up products are generally found near the cereal bars or healthy snacks due to their similar packaging and on-pack virtue signalling through both messaging and colour.
Shelf ready packaging is another option that can make a product more favourable in the eyes of retailers and consumers, as it ensures products make it out of the warehouse and into store faster, as well as making it easier for retail employees when stocking and increasing shelf appeal. The DataLase Case Coding Solution is a highly innovative and sustainable option for applying variable shipping information to corrugated boxes, as it entirely removes the need for the traditionally used single use labels and allows late stage customisation, reducing the need to hold ready printed and labelled inventory. It is perfect for shelf ready packaging as there is no label to be placed across perforations, a common issue for this type of packaging, ensuring clean-tears and well-presented products every time.
With the huge rise in online purchasing driving heightened competition in both the digital and physical retail spheres, not to mention squeezing profit margins for many, product presentation can be make or break a brand. Shoppers now have an abundance of choice, as well as the understandably heightened expectations that come with usually being able to get what they want, when they want, with very little hassle. Great packaging can help to create an instant connection with consumers, acting as a vital first touchpoint that grabs attention, influences brand perception and drives sales.
Packaging serves as a blank canvas for brands to communicate not only what’s special about that specific product but also its wider brand story. Consumers want to feel welcomed into a brand’s world, developing a genuine understanding of the why’s and how’s a brand and its products have come to be. By communicating the important brand narrative through packaging design, companies can make the most of this first physical touchpoint with potential customers, increasing the likelihood of connection, interaction and sale.
VAReLase Photonic Printing Solutions allow just this, by moving variable data printing to the latest stage in the supply chain, it enables the most recent narrative, facts and product details to be displayed on pack. Driving the greatest relevance to consumers, creating the highest value to brands, in a short time frame.
Though stand-out graphic design is undeniably important, and a well-presented pack can be the difference between browsing and a sale, packaging offers a multitude of opportunities to connect with consumers far beyond just that one particular pack. Thanks to the smartphone boom, the physical limitations of a pack’s size are now being renegotiated through clever use of augmented reality (AR). For example, Dutch retailer Albert Heijn harnessed this technology in collaboration with orange juice manufacturer Refresco, using a QR code to allow consumers to see which route the juice took to reach the shelf, opening up its supply chain to consumers and delivering real transparency to reinforce the brand’s sustainability and provenance claims. With AR brands can take a ‘why tell you when we can show you’ approach to product facts and additional information, helping to establish authority, authenticity and consumer trust, as well as excitement and engagement.
For all retail businesses operating in today’s highly-image conscious, social media driven era, creating a memorable and shareable experience is vital. This is further heightened for new online-only businesses, where the lack of in-store retail presence means a product arriving on a customer’s doorstep is the first, and only, physical touchpoint available. Though borne out of the need to protect products through the shipping process, e-commerce packaging presents huge, often underutilised, marketing opportunities. No matter what the pack looks like inside, it’s important to look at the overall experience of receiving an online purchase as a whole; the protective e-commerce packaging is always the first thing opened and as such should be incorporated into a memorable, shareable opening experience for customers.
DataLase Case Coding solutions offer brands a great opportunity to increase their consumer engagement even in the ‘brown box’ e-commerce scenario, enabling real-time messaging tailored to specific individual customer needs to be displayed on pack at the point of filling. A revolution in consumer engagement and both a sustainable and effective way to boost information provision on pack.
Last but by no means least, it’s vital to remember packaging’s most important function of all – protection. At the heart of any packaging is the essential need to properly protect the product inside; no matter what other bells and whistles may be at play, if packaging doesn’t protect the product, it has failed.
All packaging must be designed to provide protection throughout the often rigorous retail supply chain, from the point of production right through to the point of use, making sure the product arrives in its original condition. By ensuring products are in great condition upon arrival in store, manufacturers give themselves the best chance of standing out on shelf and customer satisfaction is maximised once products are taken home. In terms of logistics, proper protection also helps to decrease waste through damage or spoilage, helping to keep profit margins healthy.
Similarly, DataLase inkless solutions offer their own protection to brands – accurate and durable Case Coding with no wear or smudging ensures products are delivered safely and not recalled. Not only that, but the unique process protects the environment, in that all consumables, such as inks, solvents, thermal ribbons and cartridges, are removed from the production environment. Typical print and apply, self-adhesive labels applied to corrugated boxes incorporate backing liners with a silicone release coating and are printed with labelling systems using thermal transfer ribbons. Both consumables consist of plastics, waxes and resins and are classed as multi-material. They are therefore non-recyclable and bring added complexity to a supply chain seeking to be plastic-free, sustainable and truly circular.
By taking the time to truly understand not just that packaging has a vital role to play but how it does so, businesses can put themselves in the very best position possible in today’s highly competitive market, meet retailer needs and help to futureproof their sales.