For so long, we’ve been told, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s the meat, the inside, the substance of a product that matters so much to consumers and business buyers. But lately, there’s some tilting of the pendulum toward the style of an item and how it’s presented.
Indeed, packaging is in the limelight these days, and no more so than earlier this spring when consumer packaged goods giant Pepsico announced a new packaging initiative. The company’s Frito-Lay division unveiled a new program that allows consumers to customize their own bags of Lay’s potato chips. Yes, that iconic yellow bag of Lay’s crunchers can be personalized with your own image or that of your dog, son, daughter, cousin – or, yes, employees.
“The packaging and [research and development] teams have invested a lot of effort to figure out how do we do these small customized packaging runs within the complexity of the millions of bags we produce,” said Ram Krishnan, Frito-Lay North America’s chief marketing officer.
Lay’s is banking on the notion that these unique bags will get people talking about their product more than they would otherwise. Lay’s will send a digital image to the consumer as soon as the bag is designed, hoping the user will share it throughout their social media outlets.
“I would say we are going to reach millions and millions of people very easily,” Krishnan said. “Consumers want this two-way conversation.”
What buyers want today is different than before. They want products that are not only useful and of high-quality, but they want the things they buy to really stand out. And, they want those items presented in unique and fun ways. That’s where packaging and personalization comes in – and it’s a trend distributors should capitalize on. A T-shirt shouldn’t just be handed out to a promotional recipient. It should come in a box with a note, or it should be compressed into a unique shape, or it should be inside of a hollowed-out soda can. The key? Distributors can offer enhanced personalization today – distinct images on a 1,000 different T-shirts, for example – thanks to digital-printing advances.
The power of packaging and personalization is the conversation that it starts among consumers. Sure, the product inside has to be well-received, but it’s what’s on the outside that will really make people talk and remember the promotion. That kind of conversation among promotional recipients is as powerful as the product itself – today’s marketing can be enhanced so much by word-of-mouth, and distributors can help that process by providing highly personalized promotional products inside of well-designed, unique and buzzworthy packaging. It’s an opportunity today that shouldn’t be missed.
Plus, it’s a step in the right direction toward combatting what distributors currently say is their biggest challenge – dealing with price-cutters. You see, when somebody is buying a product inside of unique and creative packaging, they’re purchasing an experience more than a commodity. That’s what distributors should be striving for today – to provide clients with ideas that stand out and that make their promotions unique.
Anybody right now can go online to buy a T-shirt or a baseball cap or a bandanna or a sweatshirt for their upcoming charity walk or outdoor fall festival. They’ll most likely come across the exact same options that you’re offering, but those items will probably come at a lower price point than what you’re willing to offer.
That’s the conundrum for ad specialty distributors right now, so they need to separate themselves from the price conversation by offering unique ideas and, yes, packaging that buyers couldn’t really find elsewhere. It’s not only an up-sell, but it’s a way for savvy distributors to connect better with clients and increase customer loyalty.
Packaging ideas like the one Lay’s is testing right now will ultimately help to create a more memorable experience for clients and the promotional recipients they’re trying to reach. And, really, isn’t that what promotional campaigns are all about?