Sounds, Not Just Sights – Packaging and Presentation, as Selling Tools

Crinkly WrapperUsually the scones that the United Airlines flight purser brings out in small brown bags, for those in the front of the plane, taste good.

Two weeks ago though, I thought they tasted better (and looked fresher) because he brought them out on a baking tray and let passengers pick the scones off of it. He said that other passengers seemed to react similarly when he presented the scones this way because they convey that “straight from the oven” goodness.

In some ways, that highlights the importance of packaging (and presentation) in consumer goods.

Getting different factors right, such as the colors, the logos, the fonts, the size of the package, carton or can, its dimensions, the ease of holding something in one hand vs two, the ease of opening something can all be used to not only differentiate one type of juice box from another, but also make an impression, build a brand, increase loyalty and if you’re able to do all of that, raise your pricing power. 

Conversely, having the wrong colors, lettering or size can hurt sales, marketshare and the brand itself.

But its not just about how something looks, says an interesting WSJ article from yesterday and goes on to highlight the importance of sound when it comes to selling consumers chocolate, bottled tea, vacuum cleaners or makeup.

How important is this?

Consider the article’s Clinique example – which works to both differentiate itself and make customers feel good (and presumably happy) about buying the mascara for $19.50 (what’s the cost of ordinary mascara?):

Last month, Clinique introduced High Impact Extreme Volume mascara, which produces a soft, crisp click when the top is twisted shut. The click reassures users that the package is closed and the liquid mascara won’t dry out. But more subtly, Mr. Owen says, the click conveys the elegance of the $19.50 formula.

The incredible attention to detail firms pay to this aspect of packaging really captured my attention:

Mr. Owen and his team fiddled with some 40 prototypes of inner parts of the mascara tube, paying particular attention to the tiny, curved plastic tab, called a “nib,” that emits the click when the top twists over it. By adjusting the slope of the curve and a corresponding tab located inside the top, designers could alter the click’s tone. A steep curve made a high-pitched click, which the team thought sounded cheap. A flatter curve made a dull sound. “We sweated that detail,” Mr. Owen says. “You have to pay attention to it and manage it through all the materials you consider and all the manufacturing steps to be sure you get it right.”

Other examples that include how the right sound can convey safety, privacy, quality or elegance to customers make the article an interesting read.

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