Monday, October 15, 2012

Innovative packaging bridges analogue and digital divide

How to simplify the experience of using unfamiliar technology?  This was the question resolved by Vitamins Design Consultants on behalf of Samsung who were interested in selling more smart phones to older consumers.

The answer lay in the packaging.

The roadblock to purchase
When you are unfamiliar with a piece of technology - could be a phone, oven, car, DVD player - it can inhibit your willingness to purchase.  After all, we all hate feeling like we are stupid, and not feeling capable to use something that other people obviously can is extremely off putting.

Removing the mental barrier
With this in mind, Vitamins determined that more could be done to support consumers in the initial stages of setting up and familiarising themselves with their new phone, and that this promise of support would inspire more people to purchase. 

Out of the Box
In a brilliant lateral move, Vitamins turned the packaging of the phone - the box it came in - into a storybook of what to do when.  As the user flicked through each page they were instructed to complete a stage of the set-up. For instance, the SIM card was embedded in the page with the instruction "This is your SIM card, the heart and soul of your phone, please lift it out".  

From there, the user was asked to physically slot the phone into the book, like placing a picture in a frame.  Each page took the user through the phone's interface - what to press to make a call, how to email and so on.  A perfect blend of analogue and digital!

Behavioural techniques
I love what Samsung and Vitamins did with their Out of the Box packaging because they used key behavioural insights and techniques;

  • Overcoming loss aversion - we hate to feel stupid because it reduces our sense of identity. They created something that supported even the most nervous of new users. 
  • Vividness - clear, concise steps meant that there was no confusion as to what to do in which order.
  • Completion - once started, there was no giving up but also no need to.  Simple instructions lead the user through each stage so they ended up with a fully functioning phone and the confidence to use it. Contrast this with technology that you get home, try to set up, get lost in the manual and therefore leave it sitting as a white elephant.  My multi-function printer springs to mind as an example.

Lessons for your business
A few blog posts ago I talked about "consumption design'; that part of the product experience that relates to how the product is consumed.  Vitamins have demonstrated that the product (the phone) doesn't necessarily need to be changed, but the context in which it is 'consumed' can be.  We often limit our thinking about packaging to its functional benefits ie keeping the product free of damage and/or sexy of the shelf, but we should be thinking about how packaging can be behaviourally improved to enhance consumption.  Here's to thinking out of the box!

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