Consumers are the center of gravity for many brands, but with budget constraints, retailer pressure, internal alignment, profitability, and successful product launches to worry about, how can brands break the mold to disrupt a crowded market?
While many brands exert their efforts chasing trends or simply follow what’s already in the market, to truly stand out, brands must instead constantly prepare for what’s to come. By doing so, brands can better position themselves as innovative and lead in the future.
To stand out in a crowded market, brands must understand the category development curve and filter with, why? As a brand, why do you want to innovate? Why is this the right time? Why will consumers care? Although it’s not always linear or necessarily a road map of what’s to come, by identifying where your category currently sits on this curve, you can hypothesize where its going to ensure you’re designing for what to come, not what’s current.
Below, we outline 5 innovative ways to make products desirable and relevant during the shopping journey:
Personalized experiences. By delivering personalized brand experiences through the product packaging, create loyal advocates by encouraging consumers to connect socially. The very successful “Share a Coke” campaign digs deeper into the consumer experience, creating brand advocates by displaying millions of popular names on the their iconic bottles. This highly personal approach went viral — consumers quickly took to social media, posting pictures of their personal bottles — making them the face of the campaign. Even if your name was not included in the initial launch, consumers could design their own bottles at Coca-Cola kiosks. Coke drinkers and non-drinkers alike can still personalize glass bottles to share with loved ones and continue to tell their stories. This approach to innovate packaging design leads to our next point.
Authentic action. Make the consumer part of the brand’s content delivery in a unique, organic way. Also referred to as user-generated content, this approach gives a real view of how other consumers are using and engaging with the product. Think about the case with a suburban mom interacting with a Chewbacca mask from Kohl’s, which went viral earlier this year. Kohl’s leveraged the video, connected with the individual, and rewarded her with prizes. To stir imagination and strike new chords, look to key influencers at the forefront of your industry, such as consumers and relatable shoppers.
Limitless editions. Millennials in particular are attracted to products that offer authenticity and craftsmanship. Oreo responded to this need by teaming up with local artists to create the “Oreo Colorfilled” campaign. Throughout the campaign, consumers could design their own Oreo box, which could then be delivered for their enjoyment. This addresses the need for individuality, and creates desirability and influences brand loyalty. These innovative product releases explore the trend of differentiation, making the products highly desirable for those looking for something that is unavailable to the rest of the world.
Social relevance. Brands that relate to consumers on a higher level of social responsibility help to enhance overall value. By including event-specific and geo-specific products, brands can leverage broader marketing activities — capitalizing on social consciousness and creating unique consumer moments. Stay on top of seasonal changes or popular sporting events throughout your packaging design strategy process to tap into these shoppers. This may also mean supporting a cause, or designing a package around a specific movement.
Recently, food and beverage brands responded to consumer needs for more transparent labeling on the products they buy. In both the US and Australia, we are seeing brands adjust their packaging and labeling, making it easier for shoppers to make thoughtful buying decisions with legislation like the FDA Nutrition Facts label and Country of Origin Labeling. Brands that connect with these local markets and demographics to solve a consumer need have a better chance at delivering relevancy, responsibility, and provenance.
Real-time interaction. Mainichi Newspaper seized the moment to deliver an “I want it now” experience, capitalizing on commercial opportunity while delivering product promotion with “real-time” impact. Market research found that young people are less likely to read a physical newspaper, but are buying lots of mineral water. Mainichi Newspaper addressed this by creating packaging that delivered news in real-time on water bottles.
But remember, it’s not just a name on a pack! Think beyond the packaging to consider the shopper journey in real context, and explore the viability in translating into sales: from idea to package, to shopping baskets, into lives. To ensure all teams are in alignment, take your own journey with clear deliverables – visualizing, shaping, crafting and actualizing as you go.