interpack 2011: Packaging as a Sales Tool
Most consumers only decide which items end up in their shopping basket when they are actually in the shop itself. The ideal packaging therefore has to literally “jump” off the shelf, “speak” to the consumer and provide instant convincing information about the quality of the product. But no matter how appealing the design of a packaging is, functionality is always a prime consideration.
The Danish toy manufacturer Lego is using a whole bag of tricks to tempt customers. At its stores, products are now being staged in three-dimensional, interactive views—to the delight of fans of all ages. The new presentation technology called “augmented reality” enhances the viewer’s perception by using advanced imaging techniques to combine real-world pictures with three dimensional computer-generated images.
Entry to the augmented Lego world is provided by a digital box, a terminal equipped with special software. The user takes a Lego product from the shelf and holds the package bar code up to a camera. The camera reads off the code and projects a 3D version of the product on a monitor. When the package is turned, the image of the product also rotates, allowing the product to be viewed from all sides. The animation is superimposed on real-world images, which the camera transmits simultaneously. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality does not replace the real world but enhances it with virtual data.
“The feedback tells us that this innovative concept is really well accepted by the customers, who are having a lot of fun using it,” says Helena Seppelfricke, Press Officer at Lego Central Europe.
No excitement, no sale
Anyone who wants to reach the consumer must stage his merchandise perfectly at the PoS. This doesn’t just apply to toys but to all products—from food to luxury items. “Shops are a hotly contested arena, where the prize is the customer’s attention,” explains Hilka Bergmann, Head of the Packaging Research Section at the EHI Retail Institute. The pressure to be noticed at all costs is highest at the discounters. According to the Institute’s data, the average supermarket in Germany carried some 6,000 articles in the mid 1990s. Today, that figure has risen to more than 15,000. This vast array is confusing to consumers who know very little about individual products. Most shoppers therefore tend to buy on instinct. Marketing researchers have found that 70 percent of them only decide directly at the PoS what ends up in their shopping basket. And this is where the importance of the sales package is most crucial, because it acts as a decision aid on the shelf. According to the Munich-based market research firm facit, the influence of the packaging on purchasing decisions is twice as high as that of TV advertising, billboards, or print media.
Industry therefore continues to allocate a lot of money to PoS advertising. According to the EHI Retail Institute, spending by product manufacturers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland is predicted to rise by 0.2% points to 10.2% of their marketing budgets in the 2009 to 2012 period. This is impressive, especially considering that web marketing is swallowing an increasing amount of funds. At interpack 2011, PROCESSES and PACKAGING, to be held from May 12 - 18, 2011 in Düsseldorf, Germany, “communicative” packages will be an important topic. The world’s leading international trade fair for the packaging sector and related processing industries will feature the INNOVATIONPARC PACKAGING with topics showing how packaging relates to Quality of Life: meaning, health, aesthetics, simplicity, and identity. These dimensions directly impact the behavior and therefore the consumption patterns of potential customers—and using packaging as a vehicle to persuade these potential customers to buy a product calls for deep insights into target groups and their expectations. In the INNOVATIONPARC PACKAGING, best-practice examples of packages will be presented during interpack 2011 in realistic environments relating to each of the five dimensions of Quality of Life. The special show will therefore become a sort of mall with a variety of shops.
Investing in packages that show their contents interactively and in 3D has, however, exceeded the budgets of all but a few companies so far. Although the more common sales packages and displays don’t provide such deep insights, in the ideal case they assume the role of the good-looking salesperson standing at locations with especially high traffic in a discount or department store—ready to offer quick and competent advice about the product inside. Articles can be even more strongly promoted in when they come in special editions or with a bonus offer. One internationally known example of such on-pack solutions is razors that are offered complete with razor blades. Also gaining importance are promotional activities where the consumer can learn more about the products, such as food and beverage tasting counters or live events like cooking shows.
A tough challenge for designers