Packaging Authenticity and Branding – A Retailers Perspective.
This is the next in a series of posts that I am writing that is focussing different aspects in the retail environment and the implications your decisions will have on your brand if you don’t think things through.
Last week we talked a little bit about pricing tactics and strategies.
Today, I want to focus on package communication and branding. What is your package is actually saying, or trying to say about your brand? Is your messaging authentic? Are you, what you say you are?
What do I mean by this and why the heck am I talking about this now?
This post is more directed to the start-ups and the smaller companies that do not have the millions or tens of millions that big companies have to brand and talk about their products. This is for the little guy that is just trying to get listed and distribution on a shoestring as it were. The packaging of their product is probably going to be their biggest voice for communicating who they are on the shelf.
I had a great product hit my desk the other day that was packaged well, looked great, tasted great, and had a great name. It was a “commodity type” product that had mass appeal so there was no need to educate a consumer from scratch. Easily understood category.
The name chosen should be a great benefit to this brand – really going to make it easy to sell. The name just totally fit and really resonated. I was actually surprised that no one had trademarked the or locked up the name years ago! It just made total sense for this type of product. I really liked it!
Challenge; the name was not accurate – not authentic with respect to what the brand was implying as “origin of product”. The name of, and where the product was actually made, did not match. Had nothing to do with anything!
Typically – not a big deal. For example; “Old El Paso” products are not made in El Paso. People in that particular category probably do not care that the items are not made there. However, the “Old El Paso” brand name is used as a descriptive that describes recipe origins, early product development origins, and a descriptive that tells me that this is “Mexican” or “South West” in feel and taste. So it remains “authentic”. It works.
Another classic was the “Pace Salsa” commercials that poked fun of Salsa implying Mexican or South West origins and yet they were made and from New Jersey or New York! What was Pace implying? If you want “good and true salsa”, gotta come from the South West where they make and eat it, not from the North East! What did someone up there know about salsa!!
The product that I saw from this upstart company that precipitated this writing, was going to have issues within this particular commodity category (specifically in Vancouver and the Pacific North West) as a result of name choice. My feeling is, and was, that this was going to be a huge challenge, as many consumers would question this brands authenticity as there was NO connection with the name and where the product was actually produced.
As a consumer of this type of product grouping, there is a large emotional component attached. You want to be drawn into the romance of the product. You want to feel a part of the location and history of the name. Some examples would be “Granville Island Brewery”, “Kicking Horse Coffee”, and “ Salt Spring Coffee”. All of these company names tell me where the product originated and gives me an idea as to maybe the flavours or tastes that I might experience. Whether that is true or not is irrelevant. Perception is reality! It evokes a certain emotion that assists in selling the product in lieu of a massive marketing budget.
I explained to the Vendor, that this was a huge problem for me and I truly believe would be a huge issue with my consumers. In a world where people are trying to make connections with products they use and consume; when I look at your name, and it is a descriptive name that would imply that you come from, or a be made in a specific area; then I expect that that is where you are from or being made. When that does not fit – I may start to question other things about your product, and this is ultimately very damaging to your brand – immediately and potentially forever!
Now, remember, this is not a big deal if you are up front about all of this and you explain this to the consumer. Whether that be on the package / webpage / your media spend etc… Tell people who you are, what your band represents, why you are doing what you are doing, and give me an emotional and compelling reason to buy into you, and buy into your brand. That is being honest and authentic and for the most part, will forgive any short comings in packaging description because you never tried to hide behind it.
However, that is typically not what happens. If you say Salt Spring Island Coffee and you are roasted in Mission and you were born and raised in Toronto, I may ask myself – what the heck are you trying to sell me? What do you know about Salt Spring Island? What do you know or care about what emotions that evokes in me? Etc…… But if you tell me a story as to why the name choice and why you want me to buy you, I may give you a chance.
Again, many will think this is a small deal and really does not matter. Maybe they are right. However, I know from the queries that we get from our consumers, many do care, and this kind of packaging and branding can cause irreparable damage to your brand! Don’t forget the details!
Think about it.
Ciao for now @kootenayborn