Counselor Commentary: What’s On The Outside Matters

For so long, we’ve been told, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s the meat, the inside, the substance of a product that matters so much to consumers and business buyers. But lately, there’s some tilting of the pendulum toward the style of an item and how it’s presented.customize-bags-479

Indeed, packaging is in the limelight these days, and no more so than earlier this week when consumer packaged goods giant Pepsico announced a new packaging initiative. The company’s Frito-Lay division unveiled a new program that allows consumers to customize their own bags of Lay’s potato chips. Yes, that iconic yellow bag of Lay’s crunchers can be personalized with your own image or that of your dog, son, daughter, cousin – or, yes, employees.

“The packaging and [research and development] teams have invested a lot of effort to figure out how do we do these small customized packaging runs within the complexity of the millions of bags we produce,” said Ram Krishnan, Frito-Lay North America’s chief marketing officer.

Lay’s is banking on the notion that these unique bags will get people talking about their product more than they would otherwise. Lay’s will send a digital image to the consumer as soon as the bag is designed, hoping the user will share it throughout their social media outlets. “I would say we are going to reach millions and millions of people very easily,” Krishnan said. “Consumers want this two-way conversation.”

What buyers want today is different than before. They want products that are not only useful and of high-quality, but they want the things they buy to really stand out. They want them presented in unique and fun ways. That’s where packaging comes in – and it’s something distributors should capitalize on. A t-shirt shouldn’t just be handed out to a promotional recipient. It should come in a box with a note, or it should be compressed into a unique shape, or it should be inside of a hollowed-out soda can.

The power of packaging is the conversation that it starts among consumers. Sure, the product inside has to be well-received, but it’s what’s on the outside that will really make people talk and remember the promotion. That kind of conversation among promotional recipients is as powerful as the product itself – today’s marketing can be enhanced so much by word of mouth and distributors can help that process by providing promotional products inside of well-designed, unique, and buzz-worthy packaging. It’s an opportunity today that shouldn’t be missed.

Published by Andy Cohen- ASI Central, May 2015

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