Photo © iStockphoto.com. Edited by Quinn Williams
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover—and for the most part, they’re right. But a book’s cover can say a lot about what’s on the pages within, and the same is true—or at least has the potential to be—of the packaging around a supplement or functional food.
Sure, the text on any bottle or box will tell you the obvious details about contents, ingredients, net weight, expiration date, lot number, or so-on. But there’s a subtext going on here, as well, wherein subtleties and nuances of the package—from the shape of the label to the color of the cap—convey a story not just about the product inside but the health-and-wellness brand behind it.
In an age when shoppers yearn to connect with the stories underlying everything they buy, that’s a strong selling point. Moreover, it’s one more piece of evidence that a package does more than keep a bunch of capsules in place. As Brent Anderson, packaging advisor, Nosco (Waukegan, IL), puts it, “Since it’s necessary to use packaging to ensure a product gets to its destination in one piece, why not take advantage of this space for branding and storytelling?”
With so much of our lives lived in “the cloud” these days, celebrating the importance of the physical package almost feels like a throwback. But we haven’t yet entered a “post-packaging” world. Websites, online engagement, and savvy marketing may be “necessary to flesh out a brand story,” says Todd Pauli, partner, The Shelton Group (Chicago), but packaging still plays the “most critical” role in telling that tale. “You’ll rarely hold the consumer more captive than when he or she is at the shelf, holding a product and trying to decide between several supplement brands,” he says. “In that moment, packaging makes all the difference in the world.”
The difference boils down to a package’s capacity to elicit emotion. Beyond just enumerating features, benefits, and nutrition facts, packaging “helps a consumer connect with a brand on an emotional level and feel comfortable with a purchase,” Pauli says. And when a package communicates this emotion clearly, it “will continue to enforce the consumer’s connection with the brand well after purchase.”
Like, for example, when that consumer reaches into the medicine cabinet every morning. “Packaging lives alongside consumers in their homes,” Anderson notes. “Any time a customer picks up a container to take their daily supplement, they interact with the brand through its packaging. That’s a great way to reinforce brand identity and engage customers over time.”
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