Baby formulas, protein shakes, food supplements, and everything dried, powdered, flaked or pulverized; we talk every day with the people bringing these kinds of products onto the market. Most of them come from business backgrounds. A few are from the bigger worlds of food, nutrition and even agriculture. Not many come from the marketing background that really sets products (and people) apart. But that’s ok.
This article is for the packaging professional who hasn’t moved completely into the netherworld of everything is already-known, but who is still learning and open to learning more. Packaging is complex, like design, but also practical and hands-on like accounting. Getting the right return depends not only on what you put into it, but also one what you know before you dive in.
And it is all about that first impression. Lifestyle, practicality, presentation and appropriateness, all of these things speak to the pain point your customer is trying to address. To guys on the factory floor, though, it sounds like nothing.
Of course, everyone likes a good box, or a re-usable bucket, bag, or packaging that seems like a built-in freebie. In highly competitive markets where quality is similar, indistinguishable or simply comparable, packaging makes all the difference. It even makes the difference. So pay attention.
Dry Foods are not easier than canned, prepared or mass-market foods. They’re just dry. And just because you don’t need expensive refrigeration and preparatory equipment, it doesn’t mean you get a quick break. Powders leave a lot to be desired in terms of memorability and all the usual characteristics of customer experience. It’s actually a lot more difficult to market something as seemingly bland and indistinguishable as a powdered food product. Think about it. Refer back to #1 above, and imagine all the things your customer is doing before and after consuming or otherwise using your product. That’s how the Customer Experience experts do it. Design your packaging to either complement or enhance that other activity.
Face it. Reading the label is important, very important; for an initial 20-second connection. But once that 20 seconds has passed, and you’ve made the sale, your moment to enhance customer experience comes down to the ten seconds it takes to compare the label with the measuring device. So be careful about what you include. Complex measuring instructions are going to be a turn off. Including the right utensil coordinated and complementing your packaging is going to make a difference. Is it going to be re-usable? Is it measuring in increments commonly needed in the kitchen?
Lastly, you could replace the idea of Brand with the manufacturer or even the re-packager. Especially with repackaged products, the packaging could be even more important than the product brand, so the opportunity to mesh with customers is open to you at this stage. Match packaging across a line of re-packaged but differently branded good with a scoop or measuring cup good for all of them. Now see where the customers loyalty goes.
A measuring device, whether you’re selling proteins, baby formula or dry milk, is the medium that connects your customer with your product. You can think of it as part of your packaging, but it’s far more important to think of it as part of your marketing. In fact, you might think of all of your packaging that way too. Marketing doesn’t mean wowing people with advertisements and messages. Marketing means being useful when a use or need is perceived. Be there to meet that need and your marketing is almost done. Even with simple, and often cost-effective stand up pouches, a good measuring device is going to make a big difference.
Stand up pouches, cardboard tubes, or traditional boxes or bags should accent the lifestyle of an existing customer persona. Clean, professional and clinical are very different powders from those that are warm, homemade and familiar. Run with the one that suits your customer. Classical, vintage or retro packaging can also make a big impression, but that can be less true with practical minded parents.
Are your target clients likely to go in for the scientific? Or for austere, European-style imports? If you’re looking at segmented markets that are very different, distinct stand-alone packaging for each segment may very well be better than a muddled product trying to reach everyone simultaneously.
In closing, packaging should not be mere lipstick on a pig. Though powdered, dried, diced or dehydrated, your product is next to something else on the shelf. That something else is equally powdered, dried, diced or dehydrated. The difference between these two formally awkward products is simply packaging. What you do with your packaging is up to you. But keep all of the above in mind before you do anything!
This article was written by James Tomon, an avid blogger working out of Mexico City.