The rise of consumer wealth in Asia is creating new opportunities for both global and local brands. While global brands have been perceived as offering superior quality, perceptions are shifting and in markets like the Philippines and Indonesia consumers are showing a stronger preference for new products from local brands.
To compete successfully, brand owners need to look for unique ways to strengthen the emotional connection between consumers and their brands. Packaging is often overlooked, but it is a powerful way of communicating to consumers, while protecting and growing your brand.
In fact, recent research indicates that packaging quality has a critical role to play in building profitable consumer-brand relationships. The study found that thicker water bottles are perceived to be higher quality than thinner bottles. It showed that these perceptual differences impact how consumers view a brand on aspects such as reliability and value, and ultimately influence intentions to purchase the brand’s products.
Another study discovered that viewing attractive packaging caused more intense brain activity than neutral packaging. Attractive packaging triggered activity in brain areas associated with rewards, while unattractive packaging produced activity in areas of the brain connected with negative emotions.
The effect of unattractive packaging can be seen in Australia, where the government instituted a plain packaging law for cigarettes. The removal of packaging branding rights aimed to discourage young people from smoking. The packages, covered with health warnings and graphic images that deter smoking, have contributed to a steady decline in smoking rates over recent decades.
Clearly packaging is an important way for companies to bring the brand promise to life and help influence point of purchase decisions. So what aspects should brand owners consider when designing their packaging?
Packaging differentiates your brand
While Asian consumers are most interested in the product inside the packaging, first impressions are important and packaging tells consumers why your products and brand are different. It is important to make your packaging stand out from the competition with the use of colour, materials and design.
A great example is Apple’s simple and elegant product packaging. The company spends considerable time and attention perfecting its packaging so that it elicits the correct emotional response in consumers opening new products for the first time.
In his book, Inside Apple, Adam Lashinsky describes the level of attention to detail Apple commits to packaging: “One after another, the designer created and tested an endless series of arrows, colours, and tapes for a tiny tab designed to show the consumer where to pull back the invisible, full-bleed sticker adhered to the top of the clear iPod box. Getting it just right was this particular designer’s obsession.”
Protecting against counterfeit products
The first line of defense against counterfeit goods lies in secure packaging. The three major solution platforms employed today include:
– Visual Authentication packaging features which include overt and covert holograms, physical and digital watermarks, specially designed inks and dyes and taggants for detection and identification. A number of toothpaste brands effectively use anti-counterfeit holograms affixed on the toothpastes’ packaging.
– Track and Trace Systems consist of special barcodes, labels made from different materials like paper, aluminium, polyester, ceramic and radio frequency identification.
– On– or In-pack technologies are often used on high risk items and are very difficult or impossible to replicate. An example of this is the development of the two-dimensional barcode found on many pharmaceutical products.
Increasing online sales is impacting packaging
With online shopping increasingly outpacing in-store sales, brand owners need to design packaging with digital shoppers in mind, as these shoppers do not have the luxury of touching and feeling a tangible product to help in their decision-making process. Brand owners must consider how their products will display on screen and how they will be transported and delivered to customers.
Designing primary packaging so it is easy to find and consumers intuitively know its contents is an important consideration. Brand owners also need to avoid frustrating consumers with secondary packaging that is cumbersome or difficult to open or dispose of responsibly.
Online shopping presents opportunities to customise packaging as well – uploading a picture of the consumer onto a soda can, for instance – and can help support brand awareness if consumers share their “creations” via social media channels.
As digital commerce continues to grow, brand leaders and successful packaging manufacturers are considering the role of packaging and the challenges and opportunities of protecting product and delighting consumers in this medium.
Packaging tangibly leverages emotional and rational drivers to build a brand. The potential for brands to positively impact their consumers’ experience simply with thoughtful packaging is a low-risk, high-reward scenario that more companies need to consider today.