THE LOST ART OF THE OPENING CEREMONY
Fred Richards, Chief Creative Officer
December 1, 2016
Everyone remembers that special moment on Christmas morning tearing through the gift wrapping, or the simple moment of tearing the foil off a jar of coffee to get that first hit of aroma as the foil peels back. Nobody removes the sheet of paper inside the tin of Altoids. Why are these moments so important? These “opening ceremonies” are rarely included in client briefs to understand or enhance the consumer’s experience with the brand and product. I believe that these moments are fundamental in the interaction of our senses with the brand at a deeper level.
Today is a different world. A vast majority of all retail shopping happens online and, therefore, the typical in-store experience of handling the package is becoming eliminated. There is a new distance between the brand and consumer, and regulations such as tamper-evident packaging are having a significant impact on the kind of opening ceremony recalled above. For food and pharmaceutical products, this is seen as a real advantage when safety and ingredients are crucial. When thought through as part of the brand delivery, tamper-evident packaging can add significant value to the consumer opening ceremony. A great recent example of this was the overwrap design solution for Orbit gum in the USA. The protective film was transformed into part of the opening ceremony from solely focused on brand messaging to a fashion statement with flavor cues. It’s also a must for shipping products where packaging is designed with security and chain-of-custody in mind, such as cell phones or other consumer electronics. Here’s an example; as a test I recently ordered my usual weekly commodity groceries and favorite comfort food cereals from an online shopping supplier. When the delivery arrived not only was my cereal incorrect, the boxes were damaged. The disappointment factor was immediate. This would not have happened in the store, especially due to the fact that cereal selection for me is such a delicate and particular process!
So how do brand owners bring back the ‘wow factor’ of un-boxing without adding a lot of expenses? It’s a mixed bag. There are a few common things that specifically Millennials look for in choosing brands and, by extension, packaging:
- Millennials see their purchases as emblematic of themselves. In other words, they choose brands that say something about “me.”
- What doesn’t play with Millennials is “Basic.” To call someone basic is essentially to call them boring. This demographic loves specialty product ingredients and they love packaging. They’ll gravitate toward custom packaging according to Supermarket News. “Think of Coca-Cola’s initiative to put people’s names on the bottles.’
- Brands are everything to Millennials. Think Ugg Boots, Birkenstock, North Face and just about any craft beer. Are these luxury brands? Not really, but don’t say that to a Millennial. Same goes for packaging…perception is everything.
- Social media is where today’s consumer lives. Creating buzz is key to packaging for Millennials, so include hash tags, QR codes, anything that invites interaction.
“There is a new distance between the brand and consumer, and regulations such as tamper-evident packaging are having a significant impact”
What’s in a Package?
According to recent studies, the consumer shopping experience on Amazon leaves a lot to be desired. Granted the system in place is impressive. But as with many brands it only takes a few poor experiences for perceptions to change depending on how the brand responds? This too also changes the balance of the relationship between the shopper and the brand as a third party is now being introduced to the purchase cycle. When it works it delivers on the convenience but when it does not the blame shifts as does the experience. Let’s look at the typical merchant who’s selling on Amazon and their hosted storefront, Shopify. When a customer makes an order on Amazon, absolutely no part of a merchant’s brand is touching them. No website experience, no direct contact with the customer. What’s the point of having a brand if the customer is a) unaware of it and b) not experiencing it?
That’s where your branded packaging comes in. An unexpectedly branded package gets attention, provides brand awareness and leaves a lasting memory, which can result in additional purchases and positive on-line or person to person social relay. The very first thing your customer lays eyes on after ordering is the brand’s package that they were excited about in the first place. And remember, all the insides (tissue paper, bubble wrap, Styrofoam and tape) are fair game for branding or smile in the mind opportunity. Consider extending your brand’s assets to each. And consider surprise perks; like a handwritten note expressing either a “welcome” or “thanks” for the customer’s patronage. Small touch points like these can really add to the consumer experience and that Christmas morning excitement.
Ultimately, the unwrapping experience – if it’s good – will do more than anything to incent loyalty and ensure that you’ll never cause the customer to think, “That’s it? What a rip.” The role of the online delivery service has moved from supplier and delivery system to Father Christmas.
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