Thursday, November 11, 2010

That packaging is smokin' hot

Here's my prediction in light of the Federal Government's ban on the use of colours and branding on cigarette packets - look out for significant packaging innovation in this sector.  When you are stripped of the usual ingredients - Branding, colour, logo, language - all you are left with is the packet itself to differentiate your product.

So where can we look for examples of product differentiation through packaging?
- The famous Coke bottle immediately springs to mind
- Alcoholic beverage manufacturers are prolific as any trip to the spirit's aisle will attest - Asolut! vodka,  Bailey's, Johnny Walker
- Wine bottles have been on the action too - the Rosemount square base bottle is one of the most striking
- Flavoured milk - Big M carton vs the plastic bottle Dare drinks

Next comes perfume - designed to be as beautiful as the scent to ensure that the whole sensory experience is consistent.

And how about Cars? The ultimate packaging differentiation between a transport that gets you from A to B

Of course the examples listed above are not subject to the no-branding restrictions the cigarette companies are facing. But the test is whether you can pick the brand without the branding.  Coke bottle without the label? Yes. Absolut! without it's brand? Yes (and a bottle worthy of re-use as a water pitcher if the local restaurant is any measure). Porsche without the insignia? Yes.  Prius without it's badge?  Yes - now that it has been established in market.  (For those who watch the animated series The Family Guy, Brian drives a car that by its shape is clearly a Prius). But how about Holden without the lion? Hmmm, no.  Ford? Same deal. 

It's not new to state that Packaging is a vital component of the product & marketing mix.  The task for us as marketers is to be clear about what role we what packaging to play.  Imagine your product is in the same situation as the tobacco companies - what would you innovate to ensure that yours is the product taken home by your customer?  And what are you waiting for?

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