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Thinking Packaging Effects for Better Brand Engagement

By: Sheila Heath
Posted: October 31, 2013, from the November 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

Increasing sales by attracting consumer interest and building loyalty is a never-ending mission for today’s brands, and packaging has proven one powerful path to achieve that goal, as it can help convey value and ensure that a product stands out on the store shelf. While there are many formats to choose from, brand owners have continued to rely on specialty packaging, notably metal, for several reasons.

First and foremost, metal packaging has long been regarded as a premium material due to its look and feel. Often used to commemorate special brand milestones or limited editions, metal packaging offers unique qualities that engage consumers and extend brand exposure long after the product has been used. For example, luxury gift sets where the packaging echoed the superior quality of the products inside. These types of packages are often viewed as collectibles, encouraging a long-term relationship between the consumer and the product.

But it’s a misconception to think that specialty packaging can only be beneficial seasonally. Instead, brands should look to it year round as a means to build brand identity and communicate a message of quality.

Inviting Consumer Interaction

When a package convinces a consumer to reach out and grab it off the shelf, half the battle is already won. Once the product is in the consumer’s hands, it is that much closer to the cart. The physical interaction between the package and the consumer can be a powerful way to influence purchase behavior.

When a product is placed in a metal package, it sends a message to consumers that the product inside is worth protecting.

It also provides a unique opportunity to engage consumers’ sense of touch, thanks to a variety of textures and techniques, such as embossing and debossing. These techniques and touches can be used to elevate the uniqueness and quality of an everyday product. Oftentimes, because the format is so visually appealing, consumers do not even gift wrap products if they are packaged in a specialty container. This further highlights the brand and reiterates the premium quality of the product inside.

Driving Consumer Interest

Brand owners can also connect with consumers by using unique shapes. A product easily stands out on the crowded shelf landscape when placed in a package that is shaped differently than its competitors.

The versatility of shaping provides brands with unique opportunities to use seasonal themes or corporate logos in an eye-catching way. For instance, Crown worked with a biscuit manufacturer to develop a package shaped like a red maple leaf for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. The shape of the package not only connected with Canadian consumers, but the package also generated interest from consumers who purchased the tin as a unique Olympic keepsake.

Brand owners can also integrate different enhancements to heighten visual appeal. Decorative finishes such as matte, gloss and crackle finish can distinguish the package, while relief varnish creates a reflective 3-D effect and can be applied over the entire surface of a package for a high-impact shimmer. The visual effect could be utilized by a brand that is hoping to help its logo pop on the package. Tactile finishes, such as a Soft Touch over-varnish, can create a highly aesthetic and sensual effect, encouraging consumers to touch and examine products. Also, a pearlescent finish creates a premium glowing effect.

Sustainable Longevity

Environmentally conscious consumers have become an important demographic for many brands. The reusability of the package is a huge component of sustainability, but in specialty packaging, it also means consumers are exposed to the brand over an extended amount of time—prolonging exposure to key messages.

Continuing to Build Your Brand

Connecting with consumers is a multi-faceted journey for brands. Through distinctive shapes and eye-catching finishes, topped with intangibles such as recyclability, specialty package can be the best way for a brand to convey value to the consumer.

Sheila Heath is director of marketing for Crown Specialty Packaging North America. Crown Holdings Inc., through its subsidiaries, is a leading supplier of packaging products to consumer marketing companies around the world. World headquarters are located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more information, visit www.crowncork.com, or e-mail Heath at sheila.heath@crowncork.com.