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Price vs. Value: Packaging’s Role

By: Craig Sawicki
Posted: November 1, 2011, from the November 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The response to changed consumer perception of value does not seem to be complete overhauls, but a re-assessment of the product and it’s use—and often times, it’s a matter of addressing the functionality. Assuming a product’s efficacy is good and also assuming that competitors’ products are similar, then the “use experience” can add value. A good example is Lysol’s touchless soap dispenser. It’s a relatively expensive item compared to what’s become a commodity category, however, consumers see it as a value—an appliance. The added benefit for consumers is that only refills, not the entire dispenser, need to be repurchased—and the obvious benefit to the brand is that only its refills fit in the appliance.

It’s the same as giving away the razor to keep selling the blades—though, Lysol doesn’t have to give away the dispenser to earn the first buy.

This demonstrates an opportunity: As consumers who can’t or won’t spend extra trade down, and some retailers and brands chase them with less expensive formulas and packages, the competition decreases for brands that maintain their quality and added value or even increase both—giving consumers a better experience for the extra spend. Many consumers, too, believe “that which costs little is valued less,” as Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes wrote, and place more value on the products on which they have spent more.

The Middle Ground; Small Considerations

A consideration that appears to be overlooked is that products do not have to be in the top or bottom tiers to succeed. It’s often the little extras that offer a better consumer experience and, therefore, create brand loyalty. Moderately priced products, those that seem to have taken the biggest hit with this economy, can benefit from providing the little extras that consumers will notice (creating that first buy) and not want to give up (translating to continued buys).

TricorBraun, for example, developed a concept called the scoop-spot (patents pending), a small indentation in the front and back indentation of the mouth of a blow molded jar that holds or nests a measuring scoop. This allows the scoop to remain up and out of the powder product for easy access and use. Although it was originally conceptualized for protein powders, it is a concept that translates for many products/product categories—coffee, for example. In TricorBraun’s consumer insight studies, it was found that this small convenience can make the difference between a repurchase of the same brand or a movement to another possibly less-expensive brand. And value added can be added to value added: TricorBraun developed a way to mold the scoop with a built-in desiccant to absorb harmful moisture in products that are moisture sensitive. The small convenience further impacts consumers’ experience and perception of the product.