Product packaging — is it part of your brand or disposable?

Picture_4 A recent article in the New York Times focused on how product packaging trends have changed over the last 10-20 years.  The trend, as late as the 90's was that companies would retain a packaging design for 7+ years.  Today, the trend is less than 2 years.  (To the left, Kleenex is now available in oval shaped boxes.)

The article lists many reasons why a company might shift packaging more often today.

  • Shorter attention spans of the buying population
  • The movement from container to a 3-D on-shelf ad for the product
  • Harder to expose audiences to mass media messaging, so have to grab them at the venue
  • Turning the mundane (tissue boxes, cleaning bottles) into decor
  • Trying to reduce package size/cost
  • Functionality (Coors label turns blue when it is just the right temperature)

Picture_3 An extreme example — Mountain Dew is changing its packaging 12 times from May-October.  Wow.  (see examples to the right)

So what do you think?  Are they messing with their brand?  Is this sort of revolving door packaging a good thing?  Does it matter what the product is?

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11 comments on “Product packaging — is it part of your brand or disposable?

  1. The Pepsi example with Mountain Dew is extreme, but look at the brand: it’s very popular among youth and can become a collectible.

    There are many factors that will influence a package redesign, as the article indicates. I personally prefer the arguments for functionality, cost savings, sustainable materials. I hope that futurist idea of microchips and miniature speakers remains in the closet.

  2. Jon Burg says:

    As long as it furthers the brand image in an organic way let them do whatever they want to the packaging. We buy products that we need, that we associate with. Ultimately we buy products to consume. Any products with post purchase shelf/display life – like dirnk bottles that we either consume in public or store in our homes – will continue to market to us post purchase. If we drink and are even seen carrying it in public it often serves as a personality statement. If we have it in our homes it serves as a more intimate personality statement. The bottle you carry, much like the shoes you where says a bit about who you are.

    Many products and their packages will target a mainstream market and therefor won’t go quite as niche or extreme in their packaging. However, the ever increasing diversity of offerings on our supermarket shelves drives marketers and designers to deliver on a platform of diversification. You want to be different, you want to be noticed. So how do you become different, yet appealing without creating an eyesore on the supermarket shelves?

  3. Chuck says:

    Design creates an experience for the customer that makes it far more than just a commodity. Marketers should work with designers to constantly reinvent the packaging because it is one of the most important factors in delivering experiential value.

  4. Robyn says:

    Ahhh… Now to repackage me!

  5. Aaron says:

    Packaging is definitely related heavily to brand image. Look at pepsi or coke, when you see a blue or red pop can you can assume correctly (most of the time) that you will be drinking coke or pepsi.

  6. Marketers that want to change packaging should also speak with operations and manufacturing to get their POV and input.

  7. Mario,

    True — this may be a tactic best used on a younger, more attention deficit audience. I can see those Mountain Dew bottles lined up on a kid’s bookshelf or dresser, as a status thing.

    And your follow up point about bringing the Operations people in would be a critical step to miss, I agree.

    Drew

  8. Jon,

    I think that’s one of the keys to this issue. How do you find the balance between popping off the shelf and just being an eyesore or confusing the marketplace because you never look the same.

    I also see a pretty big difference in the Kleenex and Mountain Dew examples. One is really about (Kleenex) understanding that your packaging often becomes part of someone’s decor or a statement about who they are. While the Mtn Dew bottles are about, as you suggest, status and cool factor.

    Maybe different sides of the same coin.

    How do you think this translates to the service or B-to-B sector. Would you have an accounting firm have a folder series that they use to give clients their recommendations?

    Or is this truly just a goods question?

    Drew

  9. Chuck,

    So are you saying that your take is…the more changes the better? Do you think there are exceptions to that rule?

    Drew

  10. Robyn,

    LOL! Amen to that! (for me, not you!)

    Drew

  11. Aaron,

    So are you advocating companies should not mess with their packaging? Or find an element (in this case color) and as long as that stays evergreen, the rest is up for grabs?

    Drew

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