Go beyond customers’ first names with personalised packaging

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th November 2016

Unbranded Hazelnut Spread isolated on a white background with a blank label. Ideal for imposing your own artwork onto.

Brought to you by Trent Munro, Product Manager for Coding Technologies at Matthews Australasia,

Adding customers’ names to packaging has proven a hit with some brands: think Nutella’s Christmas bonanza last year and Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign from a couple of years ago. It’s a great strategy for customer engagement and driving sales, particularly when, according to Mintel, one in five Millennials in the USA is after customised packaging, and nearly one in four Chinese consumers is willing to pay more for soft drink in personalised packaging.

But now it’s time to go beyond consumers’ first names, and leverage digital technology to truly get closer to your customers. Here’s how.

It’s not a fad, this desire for personalised packaging goes a long way to explaining how Nutella topped the 2015 Christmas list, with just Myer, just in Victoria, selling more than 400,000 jars of the chockie spread at $12.95 with someone’s name on it. (And on those Gen Y’ers or Millennials, here’s an interesting look about how they’re changing the face of packaging.)

Brands have mostly played it safe with personalisation so far, and technology has made it faster and easier to add individual names to packaging via variable printing.

That’s all well and good, but how else can you leverage the technology to engage consumers on a personal, emotional or even local level?

Dig into data

Already customer data is driving massive changes in the way products come to market — and packaging is no exception. Data insights mean you can personalise packaging to engage specific target markets, for instance: to target specific geographic areas, or interests or generations. Take yoghurt: packaging for the same product could differ depending upon whether you were targeting Millennial consumers or Baby Boomers. A good point to think about is which product features you could highlight for different markets; this could even be different recipes.

The true purpose of personalised packaging is to focus on engaging a consumer emotionally, rather than simply grabbing their attention in the short term. It’s through emotional engagement that you can find the key to stronger customer loyalty. Data can unlock this.

Sensory role

The role of our senses is more powerful than you might realise with packaging — especially for food and drink products. Packaging type, colour and format can all affect a consumer’s perception of the taste of the product within. Food & beverage are beginning to focus on touch, hearing and smell  as well, and because consumers are less consciously aware of these elements, it makes their impact greater. For example, individually wrapped portions of Mars Ice Cream don’t have a strong aroma, so the manufacturer has captured scents associated with the ice cream within the carton seal.

It’s the same with sound. Back in 2004, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University conducted a test to find out how different wavelengths affect taste perceptions. Using Pringles, Charles Spence discovered that the sound of the crunch changed how people felt about the chips. Louder, higher-pitched crunch noises were rated as 15% fresher on average than softer, lower-pitched crunches. Since then, Spence has gone on to study how the auditory aspects of packaging can affect product perception. Beer brands are already using this to get the right “fizz” sound when a bottle is opened, so consumers enjoy an enhanced product experience.

Interactive senses

Some processors are taking multi-sensory packaging further by blending it with interactivity. When American brewer Anheuser-Busch introduced its tequila-flavoured beer, Oculto, it used thermochromic ink on the reverse of the label, which changes colour depending on the beer’s temperature.

The brand went one step further at a launch promotion where customers could scan their bottles, connect to a special app and win prizes. They were also directed to a web app, called Relics of the Night, which let them interact with the brand online, join the community on social media, and earn rewards and prizes by posting comments and photos. When activated by a pressure-sensitive switch underneath, LEDs light up with a Mexican skull design.

For some brands, this could be one step too far, but it does show what’s possible when the boundaries of packaging technology are pushed to engage consumers. Oculto targets a young, tech-savvy millennial demographic — the very same consumers who expect an interactive, personalised element to packaging.

Which brings us back to the most important point of all: personalised packaging needs to work for your target market — and your brand. Don’t just jump on the personalisation bandwagon hoping for success. Using customer-data insights, take the time to find a strategy that will lead to greater engagement with your product and brand.

If you’re thinking about the types of technology you could use for printing different labels, please check out in-line labelling, Label Printer Applicators and Label Applicators. You may also find some useful information here on other types of coding.

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* Trent Munro is the Product Manager for Coding Technologies at Matthews Australasia, and an accomplished business strategist, marketing innovator and speaker specialising in business development and optimisation. Over the past 18 years, he has worked across a range of blue-chip and medium enterprises including Goodyear Automotive, Clariant, Corona Manufacturing and Matthews. Trent holds a range of post-graduate and graduate qualifications in Commerce, Psychology, Project Management and Science. At Matthews, he has overseen market development locally and abroad, launching class-leading traceability and automation technologies across manufacturing, healthcare and logistics