How Packaging Defines Customer Experience ... And Drives a Product's Price

How Packaging Defines Customer Experience (And Drives a Product’s Price)

Think for a moment: Which part of the print market is expected to grow fastest over the next 2 years?


Don’t cheat …

So, what is it?

If you guessed packaging, you’re right.  If I’m honest (which I am), I didn’t expect to find this in the data.  

A bright spot in the otherwise bleak print forecast, packaging presents the strongest area of growth for US-based commercial printers (according to Primir’s “The Future of Print”).  Already, packaging represents over 50% of print product revenues, and by 2017 this area is expected to reach US $186 billion, according to LEK Consulting (“Strategic Packaging Trends Shape New Marketing Opportunities.” L.E.K. Executive Insights XV, No. 2).

Packaging represents over 50% of print product revenues, and by 2017 this area is expected to reach US $186 billion.

While many have traditionally viewed packaging as merely functional, progressive consumer packaged goods companies have found that in fact, packaging provides an opportunity to drive revenue and change the perceived value of a product.  In addition, by weaving in electronic channels like Twitter, savvy CPGs are finding ways to extend the value of their brand and drive more sales.  Let’s take a look at how.

How Can Packaging Drive Revenue?

Pricing drives packaging in a few different ways.  In situations where consumers are familiar with a product, packaging is a low-cost way to protect product perception in the market, and in some cases, drive incremental revenue through creative applications.

A well-known example is Coca-Cola’s use of packaging to drive value for Coke in the “Share a Coke” campaign.  In this campaign, the company printed 250 of the most popular U.S. names on bottles of Coke, in place of its iconic logo, as a way to get consumers to buy personalized bottles and cans — not just for themselves, but also for family and friends.


Coca-Cola also successfully integrated other technology trends, for example by encouraging people to share images of themselves consuming a Coke, using the twitter hashtag #shareacoke.

The results?  During the first few months of sales, in-market results showed that Coca-Cola had reversed a decades-long decline in Coke consumption in the United States.  After falling for over 10 years, Cokes’ soft-drink volumes rose .4% for the duration of the campaign compared to the same period a year ago.

And this held true in more than just the United States: In Australia, for example, Coke says consumption of its product jumped 7% among young Australians.

Given the campaign’s impact on sales, Coca-Cola has utilized the same packaging strategy in 80 countries.

The Connection Between Packaging And Consumer Perception

In conjunction with driving price, advances in packaging design can change a consumer’s view of a product by changing their frame of reference.    

In many cases, established CPGs have packaging formats that carry conceptual associations for the consumer.  These perceptions are often difficult to change.  A revamped packaging strategy can dramatically affect consumers’ perception — without the need to invest in R&D to revamp the core product.

For example, Campbell’s packaging department tested their consumers’ response for taste and quality based on different packaging formats.  While there was absolutely no variation in the product, the sensory perceptions described by the consumers were incredibly different.  Consumers perceive the product packaged in a can to taste worse than the same product in a glass.

This is an opportunity for printers to develop expertise in packaging solutions for CPGs, a previously underexplored area in the industry.  

Packaging as Part of the Multi-Channel Mix

Last night, I visited our local Target to pick up a new bike for my daughter’s upcoming birthday (she’s 4).

Waiting in the check-out line, I happened to notice a Coke stand.  Thinking of this post, my eyes wandered to the signage, which said, “Share a Coke and a Song”.

Huh?  Turns our Coke has added a new twist to the campaign mentioned above.  Via their partnership with Shazam, the packaging for each bottle leads to a different song.

This means I can share a Coke with a friend and give them an auditory experience along with their drink.

If you’re not familiar with Shazam’s connection to print, here it is in a nutshell: if you have Shazam installed on your mobile phones, you can simply open the app and tap the new camera icon to start a visual experience.

Whenever your wave your phone over any item with the Shazam camera logo on it or a QR Code (in this case, a bottle of Coke), you’ll instantly get taken to custom mobile experiences including interactive content, special offers, and ability to purchase items or share them with others.

With more than 100 million monthly active users, visual recognition within Shazam enables a near-frictionless way for brands to drive deeper, more impactful engagements with a massive audience in a single tap — all initiated by the product’s package.

Your Turn

What do you think?  What examples of packaging driving value, pricing, or perception of a company’ s brand come to mind?  Have you seen any particularly innovative ties to other channels like Twitter, Facebook, etc.?

David Rosendahl
Connect w/Me

David Rosendahl

Co-Founder at MindFire
Dad of 2 (wait, no there’s a 3rd, where’d he come from?) and helped launch MindFire. Techno-marketer fascinated with the convergence of print and non-print marketing, machine learning, and entrepreneurship. May run for political office one day (yes, I’m crazy).
David Rosendahl
Connect w/Me

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