Needs drive people to buy, but emotion drives people to choose one brand over another. It’s that emotional connection that will inspire a consumer to remember and want to be engaged with your brand again. Packaging is often the first concrete point of contact between shoppers and brands, so if emotions guide brand choices, emotions should guide packaging trends.
Psychologist Robert Plutchik theorized that there are eight main emotions: fear, anger, sadness, disgust, joy, trust, anticipation and surprise. How can brands connect with the most optimistic of these emotions?
After multiple milk safety scandals in China, the global controversy around GMOs, meat pandemics like Poultry H7N9, the horsemeat scandal in Europe and growing concern about the health impacts of artificial and hydrogenated ingredients, consumer trust has been eroded. Just as these scandals have dominated headlines for the last several years, consumer interest in healthy living has surged.
It’s more important than ever for brands to respond to consumers’ concerns and work to regain trust in product quality. This will not be accomplished through marketing jargon. It’s critical for brands to simplify packaging, be transparent and communicate clearly through design a product’s quality and authenticity.
Consumers are looking for extreme clarity, to avoid confusion and feel confident about your brand and its products.
While Swedish brand Ikea faced pulling products from its shelves and a PR problem in the midst of the horsemeat scandal, the brand continues to see success with food products in its retail spaces with strategic package design choices. For example:
• On its cracker products, the brand magnifies the raw ingredient, in a simple and factual yet artistic way. No supplement, no effect.
• Smári yogurt's packaging celebrates the mountains of Sweden in a way that is both playful and engenders trust.
People face daily challenges in their lives. While technology has made many things easier, it can also sometimes make life feel more complicated and overwhelming. Families struggle with work/life balance. Brands have the opportunity to delight and make people’s lives brighter at every touchpoint, creating compelling stories and personalized experiences that enhance everyday life. The package becomes a theater to stage the brand story and message. Examples:
• Heinz's "Get Well" campaign launched in 2011 and reprised in 2012, was not only recognized in Ad Age's list of the ten best social-media campaigns of the year, it was a beautiful union of clever digital and unique packaging. The campaign allowed Facebook users to send personalized “Get well” soup cans to their friends. Using PayPal, customers could purchase cans with their own individualized message. Not only did Heinz gain 75,000 new Facebook fans, page interactions increased 650 percent and more than 4,000 cans of Get Well soup were sent.
• Philosophy’s skin care packaging connects with the consumer through stories, sharing the brands’ philosophies on uplifting subjects like hope and grace.
In an ever-changing and digital-driven world, with an over-saturated market and shelves, communicating the new news is more valuable and challenging than ever. To differentiate and get the attention of overwhelmed and even blasé consumers, brands are thinking beyond a “Who has the bigger logo” strategy and are creating striking and memorable brand experiences.
Breaking or redefining category norms allows a brand’s packaging to stand out and attract the curiosity of consumers. These moments of surprise can translate to shareable moments as well as consumers express appreciation of the design with friends and on social media.
• To break the routine in the cleaning product category, Method will release specially designed dispensers, creating decorative limited editions of its bottles.
• Creating an innovative wine bottle made out of compressed recycled paper, Paperboy creates surprise and inspires purchase choice and sharing that choice through word of mouth.
Each year, million of tons of waste are abandoned, creating a major global ecological problem. In recent years brands responded, trying to reduce packaging materials like wrapping. While reduction is a good start, today some brands are rethinking waste. Reimagining the life cycle for packaging, brands are transforming waste, seeing value in repurposing it.
Consumers can anticipate the delight of doing good and getting to put the package to use beyond the life of the product in a creative way. People can play a role in the sustainability process without too much effort. Designers are innovating approaches to the afterlife of packaging and anticipate the experience after the use of products.
• O’right (Eco-Salon Products) launched a bottle that is preloaded with seeds. The bottle itself can be planted into the ground.
• Stafidenios Greek raisin company designed the interior of its packaging to transform the boxes into collectable animal characters.
Packaging has always needed to communicate brand cues, category cues, product benefits and "reasons to buy." The best packaging has done this in a way that is intuitive, impactful, indulgent, attractive, special, beautiful and timeless.
But brands now have an opportunity to move packaging beyond the purely visual. Consumers' desire for brands to have deeper and broader purposes has given packaging an additional role - as the primary touchpoint of an emotionally resonant experience that creates trust, loyalty, differentiation and desire.
Cathie Cocqueel is Associate Design Director at Interbrand Singapore.