It’s either because consumers deem it out of their own control, or because businesses give that impression, consumers often overlook one of the most important aspects of any product: the packaging. Did you know that in Canada, milk comes in a bag? It really does and if you’re from the states it’s odd when you first see it. Now if you were not aware of that you may think it’s kind of a novelty. Or perhaps you would consider it to be either an incentive or a deterrent to purchase milk the next time you’re in the great white north. But let’s say on a regular basis you had the option to purchase milk in either a bag or a plastic bottle and the milk in the bag is cheaper. Would you feel compelled to spend the extra money on a sturdier vessel? Suppose the bag rips and milk goes everywhere. Do you think somewhere, maybe even subconsciously, you would consider it punishment for purchasing an inferior product? If McDonald’s didn’t bother putting Big Macs in those cardboard boxes that majestically hold it together, would the world collapse? No, but there is genius in that packaging and it’s absolutely intentional by the company: it conceals an iconic food item that could tip over or get smooshed together. The packaging offers the consumer a positive experience, to open the box, reveal its contents and wince as you see the product perfectly assembled like some sort of jewelry loaded in calories and invites the consumer to say, “I do”.
I don’t say all of this to endorse eating fast food today. I say it to illustrate the fact that packaging is a key component of marketing products/services. Packaging isn’t necessarily the hard right hook of a product, but it can be the gloves and colors you wear in the ring. In other words, it is part of what helps you stand out to the consumer and contributes to the brand of the product. Different industries and expectations make packaging tricky. For instance, most all electronics of small size come in clear plastic cases that are designed to stop anyone from opening them without a saw and a blowtorch. They do that out of necessity because of things like theft. This theft-proof packaging limits creative options and therefore the branding.
But what if you don’t have a product to package and offer a service instead? Is packaging still relevant? How will you bring your product to market in a way consistent with your own values, practical to your field, and still differentiate yourself from competitors?
Let’s say you get 80% of your business from referrals. That’s a great strategy if you’re a landscaper because your package, a well-maintained yard, is very visual and your customer will likely be asked about your service if you do it particularly well. If the service/package is good they’ll likely sing your praises and refer your business. But if you’re a plastic surgeon, whose service depends on discretion, referrals aren’t as plentiful because it’s not socially acceptable to ask about a facelift or tummy tuck. Will patients refer friends to plastic surgeons? Yes they will; and often they do. But it’s not a reliable pipeline to their actual target market because of the social stigma attached to elective plastic surgery. In this example, the business needs to create a different sort of packaging to attract business. A possible package might be highlighting how you cater to each patient and seeing the service itself as safe, effective, normal, maybe even a little mundane.
So, if you’re a business owner, take a look at what you consider to be your packaging whether you have a product or service. Ask yourself if it is consistent with your brand? Can it be improved to make you stand out more? Working with a marketing firm like Purple Diamond will help you to answer these questions.
Written by Guest Blogger – Ken Pellegrino. Ken Pellegrino is a freelance writer and part-time marketer at Purple Diamond LLC with a background in business management, marketing, sales and customer relations. A graduate from Salem State University’s Bertolon School of Business with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing, Ken shares his passion for marketing and sales with the owner of Purple Diamond, his mother, Charlene St Jean. In addition to his love of marketing, Ken is also a talented guitarist who enjoys both writing and playing music.