Packaging is the touch point that reaches every one of a
client’s existing customers, who are – as Julian Saunders notes – a client’s
most important audience; “The economics of winning a new customer versus
keeping an existing on is generally well known. A healthy and mature service business should
get most of its business from existing customers” .
This post is about how by adopting three behaviours a brand
can best use packaging as a communications channel to drive growth through
existing customers. Furthermore, I’ll
suggest how these three behaviours can be systemised and applied to the
majority of packaged brands in the form of a model for brand growth – packaging
Behaviour I – Adding Value In A World Of Abundance
The principle change over the last decade has been a shift
from media scarcity to media abundance – was the view expressed by Rory
Sutherland at a conference last year , something which also applies to
packaging media . At the same time,
behavioural research shows that shoppers are becoming more selective – they
know what items they need and only go down those aisles .
In a world of abundance in which consumers know what they
want, brands must fight for the only scarce resource that remains –attention. Adding value through packaging is a key strategy
to get and maintain attention, ensuring consumers keep your brand in their
‘evoked set’ .
That’s why each winter bottles of Innocent smoothies wear hand-made
bobble hats. It’s why Abercrombie and
Fitch bags could be mistaken for posters , and it’s how the addition of
packaging (as opposed to download only) increased the retail value of
Radiohead’s recent ‘In Rainbows’ album more than nine-fold . Value goes both ways.
By adding value, packaging promotes brand growth through
re-conversion, reinforcing the decision to purchase, and increasing future
propensity to repurchase.
Behaviour II – Getting Personal In A Consumer-Made World
trendwatching.com  first identified ‘customer-made’ in
2005. By allowing consumers to
co-create, brands not only tap into the collective intellectual capital of the
crowd, but give their existing consumers personalised reasons to repurchase.
That’s why Jones’s Water has thousands of different customer-designed
labels, and why Pepsi commissioned 35 new designs for its cans . It’s why Heinz let’s you buy a bottle of
ketchup with your name on it, and why the design on Saks Fifth Avenue’s bags is
recombined in an infinite – and therefore unique – number of ways .
Personalisation and customisation (top down): Customised
labels courtesy of My Heinz, Jones Soda Co’s labels as co-created with
customers, Pentagram’s Saks Fifth Avenue bag (the original logo is recombined
into unique combinations)
By promoting customisation and personalisation, packaging
promotes brand growth by enticing the consumer back for more of the different;
a unique experience; increasing frequency of purchase.
Behaviour III – Stimulating Conversations In A Networked
“In the old paradigm … mass persuasion involved exposing
millions of consumers to commercial messages … in the new paradigm, the boot is
on the other foot … Target audiences are … a community of interconnected people
within which brand perceptions are shaped by multiple influences” notes Will
Collin . There exists legislation in
these networks; its Gladwell’s Law of the Few – which describes how
‘Connectors’ behave like social glue, spreading a message .
An LSE’s study into brand advocacy proved that the more
advocates a brand has, the higher the brand growth; in general, brands grow
four times faster with positive as opposed to negative word-of-mouth profiles
. So it’s in a brand’s interests to
give its potential advocates – its consumers – reasons to start conversations.
That’s why first BBC2 and now Channel 4 invest buckets in
idents (programme packaging) that gets talked about, and why Nokia created
bespoke packaging that fitted through a letterbox if you told them you didn’t
need a new charger.
By stimulating conversations amongst its existing clients,
packaging promotes brand growth by introducing new consumers to a brand,
Packaging to Grow: A Model
Making it Happen
Case Study One: Powerade
Mission: grow volumes
- Powerade could add value by printing specific gym programmes
with expert trainer advice on the side of bottles.
- They personalise packaging by encouraging consumers to
suggest new programmes which are rotated on a 10 week basis; encouraging
variation in gym routine  and generating sales through increased frequency
- Word on mouth is encouraged by displaying monthly challenges
on in-gym vending machines; ‘challenge a friend to do the workout with you’.
Case Study Two: UKTV Food
Grow share of audience
- In a digital world every niche station is fighting for
share, and UKTV Food is no exception. They add value to idents (their packaging) by suggesting interesting new
ingredients under the banner of; ‘Different Every Day’.
- Customisation is delivered thru red-button – click on an
ident for more information on an ingredient and how it can be incorporated into
individual cooking regimes.
- Partnering with Sainsbury’s and aligning UKTV Food’s
‘Different Every Day’ to the retailer’s ‘Try Something New today’ would see
Sainsbury’s signpost in-store to the ingredient of the week; stimulating
conversations via the most credible of corporate advocates.
Case Study three: Dulux
Consolidate market share
- Dulux could add-value by attaching unique colour charts to
their tins of paint, indicating – for future use – what items will match the
new colour on the walls of Andy and Charlie’s room.
- Behaviour two allows Andy and Charlie to create their own
unique colour of paint, but rather than packaging it in a standard tins, they
customise their own design and take the paint home in a bespoke tin.
- Dulux then builds a social network group that allows
customers to patent and publish their colours. This encourages Andy and Charlie to contact their friends, advising them
that they can now order Andy and Charlie’s own patented Dulux colour for their
own homes .
What you waiting for?
One model: three behaviours;
Add value, personalise, and stimulate conversations.
Use packaging to grow.
Sources and References
 Quotation from A market leader exclusive report: What is
really changing in Marketing Communications? (Julian Saunders). This crucial importance of existing customers
was reinforced in an influential piece of research by the LSE who identified
that “businesses seeking year-on-year growth may be overlooking their most
powerful growth-generating asset – existing clients, customers and consumers”
(Source: Advocacy drives growth – Exclusive research from the London School of
Economics reveals the benefits and pitfalls of word-of-mouth communication (LSE
 Delivering the Landmark Creative Campaign – a speech to
the IPA Outdoor’s Seeing Digital Conference (Rory Sutherland).
 This shift is reflected in the supermarket packaging
media; John Hagel has commented that “over time, more and more products entered
the market and shelf space became the scarce good (quoting John Hagel)
 Source: The In-store Environment. Research observed that whilst 30% of shoppers
demonstrated ‘selective’ shopping in 2003, by 2006 that figure had risen to
34%. Notably, this behaviour is
reflected online, where there are no isles; search engines make virtually all
customer orientation selective
 Source: The In-store Environment. Quoting from the same source: “The evoked set
is the group of products from which the shopper will make their final decision
… if categories or products do not appear in the evoked set, it is harder for
the merchandising and point of sale activity to differentiate a category or
product because it must enable both the conversion from visitor to shopper, and
from shopper to buyer”.
 Or art prints – depending on your perspective!
 When Radiohead’s ‘in rainbows’ was released in October
2007 as download only – unpackaged – the value was determined by consumers;
they could choose their own purchase price – the average price chosen to pay
was £3.88 (source). At the start of December 2007 the same
content was released in the form of a three-format discbox. The asking price for a product valued at
£3.88 with packaging? …£40.00.
 source … Quoting the site; "Get ready for
CUSTOMER-MADE: the phenomenon of corporations creating goods, services and
experiences in close cooperation with consumers, tapping into their
intellectual capital, and in exchange giving them a direct say in what actually
gets produced, manufactured, developed, designed, serviced, or processed"
 Early in 2007 Pepsi commissioned US design
company Arnell Group to develop 35 designs new designs for its cans, including
12 inch vinyls, gleaming hubcabs, swirling tattoos and 31 other pieces of
artwork drawing from different strands of youth culture – source.
 Whilst the bag – designed by Pentagram Design –
technically didn’t have an infinite number of designs, more than several
trillion combinations gets it pretty much there.
 Quoting: Will Collin writing about the paradigm shift
in the communications industry in a Campaign supplement
 Source: The terms ‘Law of the Few’ and ‘Connectors’
were coined by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point.
 Source: Advocacy drives growth – Exclusive research
from the London School of Economics reveals the benefits and pitfalls of
word-of-mouth communication (LSE 2005)
 One of the key aspects of training is to change your
workout regularly. Varying the routine
not only avoids boredom but works different muscle groups preventing ‘plateauing’
in body-response. Different programmes
could be created – for example the strength-training work-out cardiovascular
 Their friends won’t, nobody would be seen dead with
someone else’s colour on their own wall. They’ll want their own unique colour, and they’ll know where to get it!