The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry is characterised by fierce competition and rapidly changing consumer preferences. In this dynamic landscape, the effectiveness of marketing strategies coupled with well-executed visual design can make all the difference between success and blunder.
This article explores the vital role that these two key aspects play in the FMCG industry, drawing upon the expertise of Emily Micallef, head of marketing at the premium branding and marketing agency Steves&Co. Using real-world examples of FMCG clients that Steves&Co. has worked with, it also demonstrates the impact that communication design, packaging design and in-store brand activations can have.
An objectives-based strategy is the cornerstone of success. As Micallef remarks, “In the FMCG sector, you have a matter of seconds to capture a consumer’s attention. A strong marketing strategy ensures that your brand not only grabs attention but also retains it.”
Communication design: The human connection
Aigner, the brand famous for its leather goods, was founded by Etienne Aigner in 1965 in Munich, Germany. Its reputation is built on seamlessly blending classic designs with modern elements, captivating individuals who admire sophisticated fashion. Steves&Co. leveraged this legacy to craft a series of visual communication concepts for an Aigner perfume campaign, tailored expressly for the Middle-East market.
Rooted in a profound understanding of the region’s culture and allure to connect with the magical Mediterranean, Steves&Co.’s visuals and messaging concepts skilfully presented the timeless charm of Aigner fragrances, with ‘dolce vita’ aesthetics striking the chord with the target audience’s hearts and desires. These campaigns not only spotlit the exceptional qualities of Aigner perfumes but also forged a robust, enduring connection between the brand and discerning Middle-Eastern consumers, solidifying Aigner’s status as a symbol of luxury and refinement in this vibrant market.
Captivating packaging: Drawing consumer eyeballs
Having a robust all-round brand experience is non-negotiable for a brand’s success, as illustrated by Steves&Co.’s collaboration with Healthy Leaf, a recent player in healthy snack manufacturing. Through a rebranding exercise, new packaging design, a new website and active social media channels, Healthy Leaf saw an impressive increase in both instore and online sales within three months. “Our rebranding significantly enhanced our company’s credibility and competitiveness, and opened doors to previously inaccessible markets. Since then, we’ve experienced an astonishing 18-fold increase in revenue,” says Ramona Zammit, Healthy Leaf’s CEO.
Visual redesign was a critical component for Healthy Leaf’s product packaging to achieve more. The result was not just aesthetically pleasing but also functional, leading to a boost in shelf visibility and an increase in sales within the first quarter of the relaunch.
It’s about more than making products look good; it’s about conveying a brand’s identity and connecting with consumers on a deeper level. That’s exactly what Steves&Co. achieved when the agency embarked on a packaging design project, collaborating with Ducati Corse to craft the brand’s first energy drink tailored exclusively for the GCC market of Persian Gulf states.
With a keen focus on staying true to the Ducati brand ethos, the design team creatively interpreted iconic elements into the packaging. The result was a striking design that captured the essence of speed and energy associated with Ducati motorcycles. The use of Ducati’s signature red, white and black colours lent a powerful and instantly recognisable visual identity to the product.
Micallef emphasises the importance of Steves&Co.’s holistic approach: “We don’t just design for the sake of aesthetics; we design to tell a story and evoke emotions. Our long- and short-term strategies are built on consumer insights and stand-out, ensuring that every visual element aligns with the brand’s message and resonates with the target audience.”
In-store excitement: Delivering value and engagement
Successful in-store activations are like creating exciting adventures for shoppers, making the experience fun and memorable. They drive brand interactions, boost sales and deepen brand love by aligning with visitor preferences and the brand’s essence. Even in an online world, in-store experiences have the power to leave a lasting impression.
They can also significantly impact consumer decision-making. Unilever International partnered with Steves&Co. to create interactive in-store displays for Magnum, the Wall’s ice-cream champion. The agency was approached to create and execute innovative shopper-disruption concepts for their global ‘Release the Beast’ campaign.
Steve Ciantar-Barbara, CEO of Steves&Co., says: “We developed a unique concept that would drive interaction and engagement, programming a roaring lion to appear on a console connected through coding to the freezer unit, to literally stop customers in their tracks at a crucial moment of their purchasing experience – whilst collecting reporting data.”
The installation was activated on average 2,414 times per week, peaking over its first weekend, hitting the target audience during the periods when the supermarket was busiest with an increase in foot traffic to Magnum Double’s products. The Magnum Double SKU within the stand experienced a rise in sales during the promotional period, clearly demonstrating the link between engagement with the installation and sales.
In the cosmetics industry, Steves&Co. collaborated with Clarins, where the agency developed a dynamic product launch strategy for Clarins Double Serum Eye in Malta, with an in-mall activation. Aligned with international brand guidelines, the comprehensive approach aimed to boost product consideration, brand awareness, traction and desirability. Leveraging the power of social media, audiences were engaged with an immersive campaign featuring local brand ambassadors and influencers. To create a tangible connection with shoppers, an eye-catching, Instagram-worthy stand with a swing concept in Malta’s largest shopping mall was designed and installed, seizing on the bustling holiday season to elevate visibility.
This approach, coupled with skincare consultants’ expertise, facilitated product trust and guided interested customers to nearby points of sale. The campaign yielded exceptional results, with significant impressions, unique engagements, increased followers and a surge in leads both online and on location – a triumphant entrance into the Maltese market.
These project examples demonstrate the tangible benefits of a robust approach in the highly competitive consumer goods sector. As Ciantar-Barbara puts it, “In the FMCG industry, the recipe for success includes a generous helping of marketing strategy served with a dollop of design excellence.”