Packaging in the Moment Of Truth

As Paul Rand said, “design is the silent ambassador of your brand”, left alone on shelf (or on a website) the packaging has to attract, retain and engage the act of buying without any commercial help, without any prescriber.

To validate this process, Henkel evaluates their packs with 3 key moments: STOP (does the packaging retain the attention from 3 meters away?) HOLD (does it, from a one meter distance, transmit the end benefit of the product?) and CLOSE (does it motivates to take the product in hand?). This evaluation form used by Henkel demonstrates the role that the German multinational company grants to the packaging: a key role in the act of buying.

What does a packaging need to transmit?

What does a pack of cement, biscuits, yogurt or detergent have in common?

Each one of them has to:

1. Attract attention on shelf/ website (eye catching / stand out are the manners to ask for it during the briefs)

The packaging of the retail product in shelf makes it noticeable

2. Transmit in a clear way its end benefit (what does my product really do? The end benefit is the reason why we buy the product in the first place: it cleans the floor, it gives me my daily dose of calcium, it helps me to stick tiles)

3. Guarantee a perfect brand attribution (it has to be clear that the product comes from one brand in particular and not another one. The client cannot mistake himself; if he buys a Hornimans tea he cannot confuse it with a tea from another brand)

4. The pack can give the brand superiority points which help to choose this option rather than the competitors’ (recommended by the paediatrics association, triple action, with 0% added sugars)

All of this the pack has to do it in a way which enables the consumer to interpret the information consciously or unconsciously within a normal buying process in which the decision time for each act of buying is limited (for chewing gums it’s considered that a product is chosen under 10 seconds).

Nowadays, communication is fragmented and it’s more complex to arrive to the consumers which use other means of information than the TV, which is why a good packaging should be able to sell with clients who discover the product without having received any publicity impact.

A lot of people think that the consumer does not analyse the packaging in its selling point and that is why they think packaging is not very important… but in reality a consumer does not analyse he perceives in a more or less conscious way some codes, some acquired images: for example we immediately recognise the codes of organic products compared to those of mass consumption, we know how to interpret strength codes for detergents and the goodness of softeners.

Ultimately, packaging is the key communication piece and the most efficient activation tool in a selling point firstly because it is always in the “moment of truth”, in the moment where the purchase of a product we were meant to buy will take place (planned purchase) or when our eye is caught (impulsive purchase); and secondly because there is no second chance to make a good first impression.

Everyone has had a product recommendation from a friend, “try it its really good”, but it hasn’t convinced us when we were meant to buy it because the packaging did not attract us, because what is transmitted is not what we are looking for… it takes a lot of persuasion, publicity or friend recommendations to overcome a “weak” packaging.

About the author: Joan Casaponsa | Consultant in Business Strategy
• Ex Panrico CEO
• Ex United Biscuit CEO
• Ex Lindt & Sprüngli CEO
October 5th, 2018 | Packaging Design
Little Buddha Brand Design Agency

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