The last bastion of decision in marketing.

Author

Radosław Florczak

Published

September 27, 2021

We look at them every day. We have contact with them every day. Anyone who claims otherwise should think again. Their utility function was very quickly combined with sales, or more broadly, marketing. You have most likely already guessed that the topic of this article will be product packaging.

Companies create marketing campaigns, support sales, and connect customers. In the end, however, we, as Consumers, end up between the shelves of shops and there we make our final choices. That's when brands get the last chance to change a purchase decision or reassure their customers. This chance lasts on average between 1 and 3 seconds.

For many years, even decades, packaging hasn't changed much. However, we stand at the threshold of integrating new technologies and 5G networks into the packaging industry. Is that possible? Let's consider some possible avenues. Let's play futurologists. Abstraction? Not necessarily. It's all a matter of price or legal requirements.

Let's think about what function the packaging should serve. I will list the most important functions:
1. conserve product
2. attract customer attention
3. inform about the composition of the product, etc.

These are functions, but the battle between manufacturers, or rather packaging companies, in my opinion will be over the FEATURES of the packaging. Already one of the features used is the eco-friendliness of the packaging. Eco-friendliness is a broad concept, and whether the packaging is biodegradable, recyclable or reusable, it can be used to describe a product's packaging as eco-friendly. Of course, I'm abbreviating the broader topic here and it's not my goal to go into nuance. Eco-friendliness is now one of the primary characteristics used to give packaging additional distinctive features. It is known that if a differentiator becomes common - it ceases to be a differentiator. The search for more differentiators will begin.

Companies therefore try to individualize the packaging or even the product itself. This happens with available techniques and methods. At this point it is difficult to individualize the packaging of cheap mass products. It is not necessarily about individualizing packaging so that the customer sees their name on the label. Such labels have already appeared on Coca-Cola bottles or cans. We put popular names or nicknames on them. This. was back in 2013. The mass character of the product and its random appearance on shelves was an obvious imperfection, which resulted (and still does) from technological and cost limitations, but despite these imperfections, the individualization of packaging has been a huge success. This was a good basis for further sales support activities.

It was fun with names or nicknames. But let's consider what problems consumers have with the products and how packaging can address them. This is one of the most important questions in marketing in general - how can I help the customer with their problem? Every good marketer should ask themselves this question every day. Imagine that a package tells you the ingredients to make a meal. Importantly, a meal that you like. How can the pack know that? We then enter a world of data that, thanks to the 5G network, can be correlated with the product and the customer's location. Already, profiled SMS/MMS messages are not unusual. They now bind customers through customers' mobile phones. If we add another element to this chain - packaging - it may turn out to be a real mountain of gold, a marketer's treasure, as well as the "pearl in the crown" of the sales department.

We are entering new technologies, or rather they are entering our lives. New technologies don't just have to mean digitizing packaging. New technologies can relate to the composition of the packaging itself, i.e. what it is made of. Let's imagine such a situation that the packaging can be made of vegetables or have plant seeds. Simply bury the packet so that when it decomposes, the composition of the packet provides the seeds with minerals for plant growth.... ideas and variations of this idea abound.

Radek Radosław Florczak marketing

Another quite important problem from the consumer's point of view is the freshness of the product in a given package. Of course, these solutions are not new ideas. Back in 2008, the idea of Japanese company To Genkyo won an award in the "Nagoya Design Do!" competition. It involved placing stickers on meat packages that react to ammonia concentration.

The labels change color as the ammonia concentration increases. When the concentration level exceeds the standards and indicates that the meat is unfit for consumption, the label changes colour so intensely that it becomes impossible to read the barcode on the product.

Radek Radosław Florczak marketing

Seemingly this idea is great and brilliant. From the Consumer and Marketing side for sure. I, however, am not just a marketer. My experience in many areas I believe that sales is the ultimate goal of marketing, and marketing must drive sales. One of the goals of marketing communications is also to build a positive brand image.

I am convinced that the originators of this solution have not taken into account all the aspects that not everyone is able to notice immediately. Did you guys notice them?


Imagine store shelves, or rather store coolers filled with packaged meat with ammonia-reactive labels. Ask yourself: which products would you, as a customer, choose? The ones that would have an unchanged label, of course. A label that would indicate the least amount of ammonia in the package. This is the natural course of action. We want to eat the best quality goods possible. The effect would be that after some time we would see entire cold storage counters filled with goods unfit for consumption.

Let's think about how this would look from a branding perspective. One big nightmare. We see a particular product category and all of your brand's products are not fit for consumption. An initial marketing success, becomes a sales failure.

How do you remedy that? What should be done so that the customer is satisfied, but also the manufacturer is assured of sales? Just change negative communication to positive communication. Easy to say and harder to do, right? I looked at the problem more broadly. How can you direct sales traffic to goods that are still drinkable but already close to their expiration date? Promotions, of course, but there it is.

How do you use packaging for this, without involving human resources? So we have a label that reacts to ammonia. It changes color. However, if instead of a negative message about the product starting to spoil, but a positive message about "automatically" increasing discounts as the expiration date approaches. Combining this with the zero food waste trend could yield better marketing and most importantly sales results.

Besides food packaging, we also have packaging for cosmetics and other industrial products. Consider how the market and product marketing would change if reusable packaging were introduced. If instead of merchandise on shelves, there were dispensers in stores from which customers would dispense product into a reusable container. Does such a dispenser then necessarily have to stand in the shop? It opens not just a door, but a gateway to a different sales and supply chain philosophy. The rules are changing not only for sales, but also for marketing communications for products and brands. Think about it.

Thank you! 
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The above article is the private opinion of the author. It was not intended to offend anyone or depreciate the brand. We treat this article in educational terms. If you feel that the author in any way e.g. violated the good name of your brand - contact the author. I'm sure we'll come to a common understanding. 

The images used in this article are from http://www.to-genkyo.com and are used for educational purposes only.

Radosław Florczak

Radosław Florczak

A professional with many years of experience gained during the full process of designing and implementing marketing strategies, brand building, marketing communication, organization of trade marketing activities and their logistics in the supply chain. An expert in the field of brand activation, lotteries, commercial marketing, shopper marketing, e-commerce. A person with an open mind and taking advantage of opportunities that the competition does not see. Multidisciplinary, with a lot of positive energy. A negotiator using the Scotwork method.

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