Mommy, Mommy, The Diapers Are Talking To Me!
The New York Times website posted an interesting article this morning discussing the remarkable innovations in product packaging over the past few years. Due largely to product commoditization, environmental awareness on the parts of both producers and consumers, the rise of the internet and infinite cable channels, and the short attention span of this generation of young people, marketers are being forced to become more and more creative in packaging products.
We all know that the volume of information and amount of advertising vying for our attention everyday is way, way to much to process. The average amount of time a product maintained the same packaging as late as the 1990s was 7 years; 10 years later the average is only 2 years because customers are constantly searching for “what’s new”.
If you are to walk through the aisles of your local grocery store today, you would probably notice that products that have maintained their exterior packaging designs for years and years have suddenly revamped their respective images to become completely different. Unilever’s Suave shampoo bottles recently underwent a transformation for the first time in 25 years, Axe shower gel is now shaped like a video game joystick, and Coors Light cans now employ thermochromatic ink in it labeling so the color of the mountains on the label become blue as the temperature of the can decreases.
Eye Catching Designs On Bottles Of Mountain Dew (excerpted from New York Times Website, photo by Lars Klove)
In the next few years we may see Pepsi cans that emit a blast of pleasant odor or potentially water spray when we open them. But the most disturbing image of creative packaging the article highlighted is computer chips and tiny speakers being implanted into packaging so the product can talk to customers!
That’s right. Apparently some companies are currently experimenting with technologies that will allow companies to cross-promote their products. The article used the example of a customer picking up a block of cheese which is simultaneously saying to the customer, “I go well with Triscuits”. I think I would find this difficult to adapt to. As Tracy Lovatt, director for behavioral planning at BBDO North America, an advertising agency in the Omnicom Group points out, “walking down a row in a supermarket and every package is screaming at you, it sounds like a terrifying, disgusting experience”. I second that!
What does all of this tell us? In the Conceptual Age, we can count on the commoditization of pretty much anything and everything out there. No matter how innovative a product may be, it’s almost a guarantee that someone else will either copy it or improve on it to grab a share of your market. That is why “design” is such a talked about concept these days. It is also the reason behind the Heath Brothers’ (of Made To Stick fame) 105% rule. They believe that any product or experience that is not at least 5% better than the norm is not worth talking about, meaning missing out on the miracles of word-of-mouth marketing. So, this weekend add a little innovation to all of your activities, see how creative you can get. A little exercising the “design” center in your brain is much needed if you plan to enter the world of business today and in the future!