What Do You Want Your Packaging To Do?

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When we meet with prospective clients this question comes up at some point during the initial meeting. The reactions are varied as well as the responses. Some rattle off a list of requirements while others recite what sounds like a canned request. The reactions range from confident and assured to a deer in the headlights gaze. Sometimes we get asked to explain the question. A few years back we were regularly shown the package for Apple’s iPod and told that this was the benchmark we should strive for our prospects’ products. When we explained that their products wouldn’t generate the same box opening experience as the iPod, we were told to think it over and come up with a price to manufacture similar packaging. Pricing wasn’t an issue until we submitted the quote. Suddenly the quest for iPod packaging was off the table. Recently we ran into a similar situation when a new product, the Jawbone Bluetooth headset came to market with unique packaging. Again, everyone wanted their product in the same type of packaging.

Recognizing a unique package, or one that catches your eye when you’re out shopping is an interesting dilemma. Although you see it, admire it and want to touch and feel it, emulating it is a slippery slope to navigate. One needs to step back and really see the magic taking place. Instead of giving in to your desire to have your product in that package, understand what you really want, or better yet, what you really need. The package that caught your eye has succeeded at connecting to the product it encases and the brand it represents. This is what you really want for your product. Who doesn’t? When we ask the question stated in the beginning of this post we rarely get a prospect able to identify this separation between desire and need. We explain the difference and sometimes we succeed and move forward. This is one of those wow moments and we realize that a new relationship is forming to create new and successful packaging. Along with this admiration and desire to emulate the latest packaging flavor of the day, we run into prospects asking for the same packaging as their competition. To address this issue we go into the marketplace, gather the same products in a category, line them up and reflect to the prospect the similarities and differences. Surprisingly to us was the prospect’s reaction and response. Although the similarities were understood, the desire to have the same package grew even stronger. In some markets, similar packaging breeds a sort of security blanket that is intended to blur the eye of the consumer when the decision to purchase arrives. In most cases this drives the price war to the forefront. So, creating a good initial dialogue about objectives and goals with prospects is key. This sounds basic but many times we find that getting off point happens so quickly and the process that follows takes longer than necessary. Finally, we still ask prospects and clients the same question, “What do you want your packaging to do?” Do you want it to showcase your product and reinforce your brand message in order to stand out among the competition? Or do you just want to take your chances while blending in with the others?

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