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Perfection—The Devil is in the Details

Des McEttrick

Perfection is an elusive concept—is it even possible and is it worth the effort?

I say yes to both and hope to convince you. It is absolutely possible when there’s a focus on getting all of the details right. And perfection is definitely worth the effort because it can mean the difference between success and failure (or mediocrity). Perfection helps to create and define a brand’s equity, the value of a brand. Brand equity is largely built on the sum of consumer experiences with a product or brand and its products or services. Strong equity allows for more expansion and more opportunity.

The brand equity is built from the entire experience with the brand—from all its communication to all product and service experiences. Over time, these experiences create an image and a connection for consumers with the brand. The stronger and better the connection, the more brand value. So perfecting the product is definitely worth it because it more than returns in the value of the brand.

In marketing, perfection should be the goal in every aspect of the product and package design. Labels, bottles, metal parts are reworked many times to get the exact colors that the designer selected and the right feel or look. Slight imperfections—the wrong shade of a color, a barely perceptible streak, an incorrect parting line—are rejected. Arguably, few consumers would pick up a package and make a note of a visible injection point or a color that is just off the mark, say a blue that’s just a bit too dull—how would the consumer even know? But in the end, the overall impression would be different, not as strong or not as good, and that weakens the overall impression of the product.

Much of the connection with a product, except in some categories, is not on a highly involved and conscious level. Unless there is a strong involvement with a specific product or category, it’s most often expected to work and smell and look nice, but we often don’t concern ourselves with the details. However, the lack of high involvement doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. Over time, impressions of the product are formed based on these seemingly “imperceptible” qualities. Some experiences form stronger impressions, especially things that don’t work. At the same time, unexpected delights and performance beyond expectation can also form an equally strong impression.

The true opportunity for creating more meaningful consumer experiences lies in developing a product and package that go beyond expectations and give the consumer something extra. If that extra is completely consistent with the brand message, it becomes even stronger.

Often the first things done to create a “perfect” product are visual—impactful graphics, unique colors, use of metal to create a prestige or high-tech image, or use of colorful plastics to create a sense of fun and youthfulness. Visual impact is very important, and high quality, or perfection, is a driver in creating the overall visual impression—colors that are dead on, smooth finishes with no imperfections.

Beyond visual, there are many things that can be done to create a more “perfect’ product. Textural differences can have a big impact because they are less expected and so often more noticed, especially if that texture connects to a brand promise. Soft finishes can add a luxurious feel to a package, or reinforce a message of softness and moisturization.

The feel of a package in the hand can make a difference, so ergonomics becomes really important. The weight of a package can create specific feelings. Exceptional lightness can be a big consumer benefit in categories such as sportswear and electronics, while weight can create a luxurious feel for beauty products.

As a manufacturer of packaging, Aptar Home + Beauty exerts tremendous effort to both minimize any potential issues that could cause a negative experience and even more effort on small details that can have an impact in the product experience. To minimize any negativity, we do obvious things like work toward excellent and reliable quality, but we also do things like work to make our packages easy to open and close and easy to use. Toward enhancing the consumer experience, we spend a lot of time on details that will make a difference—like creating softer and smoother actuation when the consumer is dispensing or developing a fragrance spray that is lighter, more even and has a mist like feel. Admittedly, these are small differences, but these are the kinds of details that will lead to the perfect product experience.

Des McEttrick is Aptar Beauty + Home’s market development director, North American beauty.

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