Ever since Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, adding customers’ names to packaging has been the go-to strategy for customer engagement and driving sales. But three years on, it’s time to go beyond consumers’ first names and leverage digital technology to truly get closer to your customers.
The benefits of personalised packaging are clear: according to Mintel, one in five millennials in the United States are seeking custom or personalised packaging, and nearly one in four Chinese consumers are willing to pay more for soft drink in personalised packaging. (Learn more about how Millennials are changing the face of packaging.)
How else could Nutella hit the top of the Christmas list? For Christmas 2015, people happily handed over $12.95 for a jar of Nutella with their loved one’s name on it —across Victoria alone, Myer sold more than 400,000 jars.
Until 2016, brands have been playing it safe with personalisation. Digital technology has made it faster and easier to add individual names to packaging via variable printing. But how else can you leverage the technology to engage consumers on a personal, emotional or even local level?
Tap into data
Customer data is already driving massive changes in the way products come to market, and packaging is no exception. Data insights can enable you to personalise packaging to engage specific target markets. For example, packaging could target specific geographic areas, interests and generations. Consider how the packaging for the same yoghurt might differ if targeted to millennial consumers versus baby boomers. Which product features could you highlight for different markets or which recipes would you share with each target market?
Data can unlock the true purpose of personalised packaging, which is to focus on engaging a consumer emotionally, rather than simply grabbing their attention in the short term. And it’s through emotional engagement that you can find the key to stronger customer loyalty.
Play to the senses
When it comes to packaging, the role of our senses is more powerful than you might realise, especially for food and drink products. The type of packaging, its colour and format can affect a consumer’s perception of the taste of the food within. Now food and drink companies are starting to focus on touch, hearing and smell too. And because these are elements that the consumer is less consciously aware of, it only makes the impact greater. For example, individually wrapped portions of Mars Ice Cream don’t have a strong aroma, so the company has encapsulated scents associated with the ice cream within the seal of the carton.
The same goes with sound. Back in 2004, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University conducted an test to find out how different wavelengths affect our perception of taste. Using Pringles, Charles Spence discovered that the sound of the crunch changed how people felt about the chips. Louder, higher-pitched crunch noises were rated as 15% fresher on average than softer, lower-pitched crunches.
Since then, Spence has gone on to study how the auditory aspects of packaging can affect our perception of the product. Beer brands are already using this to get the right “fizz” sound when a bottle is opened, so consumers enjoy an enhanced product experience.
Combining the senses with interactivity
Some companies are taking multi-sensory packaging further by blending it with interactivity. When American brewer Anheuser-Busch introduced its tequila-flavoured beer, Oculto, it used thermochromic ink on the reverse of the label, which change colour depending on the beer’s temperature.
The brand went one step further by running a launch promotion where customers could scan their bottles, connect to a special app and win prizes. They were also directed to a web app, called Relics of the Night, which let them interact with the brand online, join the community on social media, and earn rewards and prizes by posting comments and photos.The label also lit up with a Mexican skull design due to LED lights underneath that were activated by a pressure-sensitive switch.
Is this one step too far? For some brands, maybe. But it does show what’s possible when you push the boundaries of packaging technology to engage your consumers. Oculto targets a young, tech-savvy millennial demographic — the very same consumers who expect an interactive, personalised element to packaging.
This brings us back to the most important point of all: personalised packaging needs to work for your target market — and your brand. Don’t just jump on the personalisation bandwagon hoping for success. Using customer-data insights, take the time to find a strategy that will lead to greater engagement with your product and brand.
If you’re thinking about the types of technology you could use for printing different labels, please check out in-line labelling, LPAs and LAs. You may also find some useful information here on other types of coding.
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Image credit / Lee Rogers