Holy packages, Batman! The keys to packaging´seduction
I was walking through the shelves like I didn’t know where to go. Suddenly a slap in the face woke me up and led me, as if I were magnetized, to approach a packaging. I took it with my hand and turned it several times as if looking for an answer.
How many mental processes happen in those seconds? I have no idea; they say that in our emotions takes reason as a hostage and convinces it of whatever it wants.
What rules is emotion.
Rationality finds the perfect explanation for me to buy a product: “This is good, this is just what I need, I deserve it…”.
You can also find the necessary reasons to leave it: “I don’t need it, it doesn’t seem reliable, it’s not what I’m looking for, I’m not willing to pay its price…”.
That’s why the relationship between packaging and product has to be a perfect equation. Packaging has to tickle the emotional part of the brain in order to convince the rational part. The product on the other hand has to be differentiating and not to disappoint, so the purchase is repeated.
The first is sold by the packaging, the second by the product.
But what makes a product attractive?
It can be the quality of its ingredients and the treatment they receive, as in the case of organic, handcrafted products, or that come from a place recognized for its quality, as in the case of chocolates, wines and coffee. But these conventions are changing.
A product can be different because it comes from an exotic origin or because it is made with an unexpected ingredient. In that direction you can also innovate with exclusive flavors that no other competitor markets.
But while it would be great if each product stood out for its own characteristics, some do not. And they are the majority. Isn’t there anything that makes it special? Don’t despair!
Packaging design can make a product more attractive or even increase its perception of value.
Both low-priced and high-end products all need seductive packaging for their target audience.
“Mutti products show their origin in a refined way by raising the perception of quality of basic Italian cuisine products.”
But what makes packaging attractive?
The key is in the sequence in which we relate to packaging: from the moment we see it, we buy, consume and discard it.
The most significant differentiation resources are colour and shape, which are what we initially identify and can become that magnet that attracts us for the first time.
We have to understand the colour code of the category to recognise where we can innovate and where we can’t, because we would run the risk of confusing the consumer.
Form is part of the experience, it may be more of the same or it may have the wow effect that makes it stand out on its own.
Another resource is to have a hero. Are you imagining Batman’s noodles? They exist!
But the hero I’m talking about has nothing to do with either the Justice League or The Avengers, but with a mascot or character that represents the brand, like the Pip & Nut squirrel.
Some element has to be the protagonist of the design. It can be the brand (as in the case of Coca-Cola), it can be the isologotype (the moustache guy of Pringles) or the hero of the design can be the way the product is presented.
In some cases it is shown glorified, in an ideal scene. In other occasions it can be presented nonchalantly, even if this is planned. Like those who lie when they say “I put on the first thing I found”.
Other brands choose to rely on a personality reference, such as a famous chef, or even the founder of the company, whether real or invented, seeking to arouse confidence and sympathy.
One of the most undervalued possibilities of differentiation is the packagaing copy. There are few times when a brand chooses a tone of voice strategically to connect with its consumers.
“This table tennis set ensures that it contains pure happiness inside, that your little balls are cool and your palettes are magical.”
When the moment of consumption arrives we have a sequence available to differentiate the experience through unexpected interactions.
It can be with messages on the back of the container, under the lid, on the wrapping or where there is a space to give a special touch to that moment, beyond the discouraging “Keep participating”.
Why is this resource used so much only during occasional promotions and few brands use it to communicate meaningful brand messages?
The last point of contact we have with packaging is discarding. It is the most uncomfortable moment in the life of packaging, both for the brand and for consumers. That moment when the packaging stops being all the wonderful things I described above and becomes garbage.
The problem is to consider the packaging useless when it no longer has anything inside.
It could be reused, have a second life, be used to build something or be recycled to produce a new one.
To end on a high note we should stop taking the discard as the end of a cycle, and consider it as the beginning of another. It’s like Batman fighting the Joker; whenever he catches it he has to let it escape to catch it again.
Creating a brand that makes a difference does not depend exclusively on having a product with unrepeatable characteristics. It is a strategic decision that is materialized with ingenuity and good design.