Don’t judge a book by its cover often refers to purchases beyond book-buying. Now, experts say we need to think again about this maxim because the packaging has become an important factor to consumers.
Since the late 1990s, led by business guru Bernd Schmitt, there’s been a greater understanding of how packaging enhances the purchase experience and, ultimately, consumer happiness. Experiential marketing, also called engagement marketing, focuses on the usage experience rather than the product itself – it promotes the product by offering a unique, and sometimes, immersive involvement.
As such, it is now possible to generate consumer enhancement through the packaging stimulating our senses. The gold standard cited by Schmitt, is the box from the iconic jewellers, Tiffany & Co. During his research he found, people would “put a gift, bought elsewhere, into a Tiffany box in order to enhance its value.” The ‘Tiffany Blue Box’ is often described as the world’s most popular package. The name is trade marketed as is the colour, along with the satin ribbon and the packaging. We instinctively sense there is something special inside and this creates an immediate impulse to touch.
The Lure of Packaging
Subconsciously, we are making judgment calls on a product based on what we observe. It could start with the colours or the shape of the packaging. How often have you been tempted to test an unknown perfume or cologne by the exterior aspect of the bottle containing the scent?
Now, in an age where a significant amount of shopping takes place online, the beauty of the packaging has to stand out via a picture or on the screen of an electronic device. Therefore, metallic effects, opalescence, shimmering or unexpected colours become significant factors especially for beauty and cosmetic products.
The Need to Touch
Once seen, there follows a desire to handle the container. In the packaging sensory experience, touch takes over. Rough or smooth, cold or warm, so much information can be gleaned from our hands as we touch the package. These sensations need to reflect the characteristics and the values we attribute to the product. It is a synergy of our senses that generates an emotional feeling.
From Raw Materials to Multi-sensory Packaging
We now know, the quality and the imaginative use of paper or cardboard can have a profound effect on our senses. This is especially true in some areas of luxurious packaging including cosmetics, perfumes, wines and chocolates. It is an exciting challenge for producers because new technological developments offer an opportunity to look at packaging in a fresh light.
The future of sensory packaging: smelling, hearing and tasting!
What makes the next generation of packaging so exciting is the opportunity to enthrall more of our senses. So far, the packaging industry has only been able to scratch the surface of what is possible to offer consumers when it comes to unique experiences. That is about to change.
While still in its infancy, sounding packages are showing tremendous promise. To this point, research and design work has been dominated by food & beverage companies, seeking a compelling sound when a product is opened. Companies want a sound that generates specific values and feelings. So far, brands have been studying ways to make a crisp-bag opening “pop” different from competitors, or have an emotive sound when a drink bottle is opened.
With smell, a new generation of scented inks are being developed. The goal is to make the scent last longer and not spill onto other products displayed nearby. Those essences are being enclosed in microcapsules that emanate a scent when the material is rubbed.
Finally, as the ultimate response to calls for less waste, we have the potential for edible packaging; because it is made of natural substances, it will not affect the contained product. This concept is certainly one to chew on.
Going forward, success will be rewarded to those that can marry the most dynamic packaging materials with the most appropriate products. That will require those producing the raw materials working closely with clients to understand their needs, challenges and opportunities. Ultimately, a successful enterprise will offer the consumer a unique and unmissable experience. In every sense!
This article was written by Ian Lifshitz, Vice President of Sustainability & Stakeholder Relations, Asia Pulp & Paper Canada