Boost your Packaging

‘Project Gutenberg’ from Pernod Ricard

I’ve just read this article in Campaign magazine, discussing building the potential of packaging, and it’s got me thinking. Working on a range of FMCG brands during my graduate scheme, I’ve encountered various techniques marketers can use packaging to engage customers, connecting them to a larger brand identity beyond the product the packaging holds. This has ranged from on-pack promotions for Carlsberg, to the ‘peel and play’ mechanic of McDonald’s Monopoly, to the many reinventions of the McDonald’s Happy Meal box.

However, as technology becomes cheaper and smaller, the feasibility of incorporating it into a product’s packaging increases, meaning there are expanding opportunities out there to not only make packaging more engaging to a customer, but offer some real added value beyond just holding the product and spewing a brand message.

The Campaign article considers the increasingly prevalent ‘Internet of Things’ as an option for this development, citing major drinks firms such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Heineken as pioneers in the field. One example is Pernod Ricard’s ‘Project Gutenberg’, which comprises a “library” of book-shaped containers for a range of their spirits which, when connected to a platform on your PC/tablet, supplies services like home delivery, cocktail recipes and tailored offers. Another example I particularly liked was Heineken’s more experiential idea, littering Amsterdam with GPS-enabled beer bottles around the city to “guide unsuspecting tourists to the branded beer museum”, via lights and vibrations.

Beyond these examples, I’ve found examples of non-FMCG brands getting in on the act and utilising packaging to excite and engage. Adidas recently announced plans to build near field communications (NFC) into its footwear, apparel and sporting equipment. This, they hope, will trigger over a billion consumer touchpoints it can use to keep people talking long after they’ve made a purchase, which will generate more info on where and how people are using its product so it can more accurately predict trends and generate relevant content. The trend can even be seen in service based brands. Earlier this year, the French budget airline Transavia created branded packets of crisps, sweets and cereal bars, available at selected shops and vending machines in Paris, that double as tickets for their flights.

Flight tickets on your packet of crisps, an interesting move to the physical in the digital era.

As interesting as these current examples are, however, they’re still fairly gimmicky, and yet to truly explore how packaging can extend the brand experience into a valuable service for the customer. This is crucial territory for marketers to explore and claim, as consumers become more resistant to traditional forms of advertising and media channels. FMCG (and other) brands will have to work increasingly hard to reach, and then engage consumers, and to do so they will need to start offering real value above and beyond the product they’re selling. And of course, (as a Geography graduate!), I would also be interested to see the contributions this sort of thinking could make to developing environmentally friendly packaging, as expanding packaging’s uses opens up opportunities for its re-use and expanding life cycle.

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