Dec 14, 2006

Packaging elements Part 2 - What consumers infer

While reading about Innocent Smoothie for my last post on packaging i stumbled upon a number of blog posts where people had written about walking into supermarkets and finding their innocent smoothie bottles lined up on the shelves in their pretty winter caps. The kind souls at 'innocent' will give away 50p to Age Concern for every bottle sold. Well, it truly is a warm gesture but I will restrict my post to the packaging idea.

The guys at Innocent smoothie - a bunch of warm and happy people

- This is like stating the obvious but, bottles lined on the a shelf with cute colourful little hats on them definitely break the clutter and stand out without really being in-your-face-loud.

- I have come across marketers using collectibles before, but only ones which have been targeted at kids - pokemon, tazzos and such like. These supergran hats are collectibles for adults or should i refer to them as 'grown up kids'. While reading the bloggers who had written about this, I came across so many who mentioned - I looked but couldn't find many more such bottles on the shelves...with people responding in the comment box saying...I want that too

The brand through these hats has really infused some fun into people's lives. Look through this flickr group to see some of the fun people have had with these cuties. It makes the brand more endearing to the consumer. Google is one more such brand that inspires warmth amongst people who talk about it.

- It generates a buzz. It gives people something to talk about. Look what I saw today...Look what i got home...look what i did with my many people blogging about these supergrans

Zune - a great out-of-box experience going sour

Moving away from Innocent Smoothies, the second brand I had spoken about in my last post was the Zune. Apparently, Microsoft really did get the packaging right this time. The are loads of reviews out there about the fantastic out-of-box experience and aesthetics. I don't want to repeat what is already there.

What i did learn from all that I read about people's reactions to the Zune (in the context of packaging) was this

- The OOBE tells a lot to the consumer about what he should expect from the product. With Zune, people expected the stereotypical Microsoft packaging - cluttered with needless info. What they saw came as a surprise. It created 2 expectations

a) this is a diversion from the usual microsoft way of doing things - consumer starts to feel positive about the product
b) the design aesthetics are subtly similar to that of the iPod - clean, bold yet stylish - you have set the tone for the consumer to compare your offering against your competitor even before using the product.

There is nothing wrong with both the above expectations. Provided the product experience the user has matches the initial euphoria he has on seeing the pack. Unfortunately that did not happen with the Zune. Many recounted nightmarish installation experiences. The over simplified installation guide and lack of tech support at such a critical time only added to that negativity.

- Packaging sets the tone for what consumers expect and how they slot the product.

- Manage expectations. Product images on the pack raise consumer expectations on how products would turn out (especially in case of categories like food). If you are showing some exceedingly yummy food shots, your product better taste that yummy too. Honesty goes a long way. One good thing about the Zune pack was that the size and thickness of the Zune player was rightly depicted on the pack. Many applauded that honesty especially since 'size and weight' are considered critical to the category of portable music players

- Consumers pick up cues from the pack size / shape / colours / dimensions - on where to slot / position it and what other products it is pitched at. For instance, in India most of the detergent brands have packs that are blue in colour. When we researched a food product that has a similar blue - many consumers at the first glance dismissed the pack we showed them saying that it looked like a detergent pack and it could not contain food. Other cues they picked up were that if the pack showed a glass with milk - it meant that the pack contained milk that is to be consumed cold, while if the pack showed a shot of a mug with milk - that mean - the pack contain a powder to be mixed with warm milk - because one cannot hold a glass full of warm milk without a handle

Read more about innocent supergran hats here
If you are looking for initial reactions to the Zune, you will find some of them here and here

Packaging Research,Zune,innocent smoothies,supergran hats,


Katia said...

Great post! I'm a great believer of "the first impressions is the one that counts and sticks", and packaging has a lot to do with that. I'm currently working with website development, which in many ways functions as the "packaging" or as I call it "the entrance door" to the company. Expectations of product (website) performance is set right away, and packing is also part of the overall branding strategy.

The other day I was reading about the success the Fructis shampoo has had here in the US, and how their distinctive shocking green bottle can be seen on the shelves from a distance. A great example of the power of packaging.


Laurence said...

RI contributed to some of these hqts. It was so funny watching people knitting during meetings ;)