Building on my previous article about university professors’ apparent preoccupation with the visual impact of brands, one of the most overlooked ‘Ps’ in the marketing textbook is ‘packaging’.
Although Christmas has become a distant memory, I was infuriated by the number of retailers that use price stickers on their products that are quite impossible to remove, which is a pain when you want to hide from your loved one that their expensive present was purchased half price on Black Friday.
If it is not the disintegrating label, it is one that will not be picked away or the tag that leaves a residue that is impossible to remove.
Has anyone ever managed to successfully open a box of cereal by sliding their finger under the cardboard flap without tearing it, so that it can be resealed later?
What about those Tetra Paks that may have made the Rausing family billionaires, but which are virtually impossible to pour milk out of on to your aforementioned bowl of cereal without dribbling from the container’s torn lip.
Or the bag of sweets that you try to open quietly in the cinema, but which tears vertically and spills the valuable contents everywhere.
Probably the biggest culprit of bad packaging is the moulded plastic packs of products such as memory cards for digital cameras, which are totally impenetrable by normal human beings. That packaging is especially annoying when you buy the card from airport duty free in the hope of using your camera straightaway but you can’t because you need a chainsaw to cut it open.
However, some brands do get their product packaging spot on. I recently bought an Apple Watch. The joy I felt as I slowly opened the box, bit by bit – well, all I can say is that Steve Jobs certainly knew a thing or two about packaging.
In fact, the box is so beautiful that I am loath to throw it away. The size, the quality all go to reinforce that this is no ordinary watch.
As marketers, we need to cater for every sense of our customers. We need to use every opportunity we have to reinforce that they have made a sound choice in choosing our product over a myriad of competitors.
There is nothing that undermines the quality of your product more than shoddy packaging, which suggests that just as little attention also went into designing the item itself.
Although I still contend that it is product quality that makes a great brand, I will accept that visual identity does play its part. Now, can I have that honorary doctorate after all?