Is personalized packaging going mainstream?

Discussion
Source: buy.shareacoke.com
Apr 20, 2017
Matthew Stern

When we think personalized advertising, data-driven offers and hyper-targeted messaging come to mind. But some brands have been experimenting with adding personalized elements to the packaging products come in. Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign is one of the most notable examples and now the campaign is taking an even more personal direction.

Coca-Cola will feature 200 last names on its bottles in addition to a selection of 800 first names, according to Ad Age. The last names available are rooted in analytics that identified those belonging to, in aggregate, approximately a quarter of the 13 to 34 demographic. First and last names will not appear together on the same bottles. Coke will make the name-personalized bottles available at random on store shelves, but consumers will be able to place personalized orders at ShareaCoke.com. The initial launch of the “Share a Coke” campaign in the U.S. in 2014 gave the company its first stateside sales lift since 2000. The new campaign will run from May through July of this year.

It’s not hard to imagine packaging going far beyond Coca-Cola’s plan. Anything from changing the appearance of a package based on the content of an e-commerce order to decorating a box with a uniquely-targeted design and the name of a gift recipient could be feasible in a world where retailers have unprecedented access to customer data.

Coca-Cola isn’t the only company adding a personal element to packaging. Heinz, for instance, has reached out to fans via Facebook to personalize soup cans with a “Get Well” message for children in hospitals and hospice.

Albeit not through personalization (yet), Amazon.com has also been rethinking the significance of packaging, using its shipping boxes as real estate for promotional messaging. Amazon boxes often feature packing tape promoting Amazon Echo, and the e-tailer has also occasionally partnered with third parties to advertise on its boxes.

A new report from Transparency Market Research forecasts that the personalized packaging market will surge by 2024.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How seriously should brands take “personalized packaging” as a way to win sustained customer loyalty? Which type of brands could most successfully implement and benefit from personalized packaging?

Braintrust
"While this sounds cool and seems smart, ultimately I’m going with this being a fad that will not add much bottom-line value."
"I don’t believe it is a strong enough initiative to be an effective way of building brand loyalty for other brands — or even for Coke."
"...a Coke bottle bearing my name sits on my desk. What can I say?"

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9 Comments on "Is personalized packaging going mainstream?"

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Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

While this sounds cool and seems smart, ultimately I’m going with this being a fad that will not add much bottom-line value.

It’s sort of like bringing social media to the physical world, but just like seeing Facebook posts and tweets reposted, after a while, people find that the shine wears off and the wow factor goes away. Especially when everyone has had the same experience.

I think that will happen with these types of personalizations. After someone has shown coworkers, friends and family that their name is on a bottle, that a picture of their cat is on the box, or that their favorite animated character is messaging them, the allure of buying products based on this flavor of kitschiness will likely fade and the basics of what traditionally drives purchases will prevail.

From a brand perspective, the costs and logistics of maintaining a truly personalized packaging ecosystem will likely not significantly improve profits and just like the panacea over QR codes ended quickly, this too shall pass.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

Unique is good. Making products unique was recently expressed when I chose an Adidas running shirt. The selection options had various different sayings added to their interior hem. The question of whether or not to buy took a distant back seat as I focused on what saying would accompany my run. I chose “Lean, strong and fast as F*** – Adidas Training” (the F word really has *** in its appearance. I assume it meant “fear”).

Lesley Everett
BrainTrust

While the Coke personalization campaign has been effective in creating a buzz and a talking point, and no doubt the upcoming one in May will be similar, I don’t believe it is a strong enough initiative to be an effective way of building brand loyalty for other brands — or even for Coke. It’s fun, it’s something to talk about but it’s a nice-to-have fad and not personal enough to create a customer experience that has the emotional effect required for creating long-term loyalty.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

I’m with Ken on this. I would think regionalized packaging would be more relevant. Magazines like Sports Illustrated have been taking advantage of that for a while now: Alabama on the cover for the South, Oregon on the cover for the West, etc. To Ken’s point, what’s going on now with customized packaging on CG products (“Zesty!” Snickers) seems trite.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

Given the advanced capabilities in printing and pantograph technology, “personalized” items are relatively easy. Lilian Vernon has made a fortune based on this capability. Unique luxury items (jewelry, clothing) could benefit from personalized packaging. On the other hand, I would find it very shallow (and creepy!) if the toothpaste I purchased stated that it was “specifically packaged for Adrian.” Remember the sage advice — just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

John Karolefski
BrainTrust

Personalized packaging would be valuable for new products looking to create awareness and buzz. I usually dismiss such tactics as a gimmick or a fad that will quickly be forgotten. But a Coke bottle bearing my name sits on my desk. What can I say?

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

The personalized Coke bottles works for Coke. The timing is great as the summer season kicks off. Less fun for the retailer who has customers digging through the display looking for their name. The Coke bottle on John desk is a great example of the lasting quality of this promotion. People will ask about it or at a minimum notice it and may wonder where’s mine.

Something like the tape on an Amazon box the gets torn off is an example where personalization lack any longer term and maybe even short term value. Think about having you name listed on the tape for a product left on your doorstep or in the entry way to your apartment.

Will they work, maybe buts there are lots of qualifiers. Will companies try them? You bet.

Thomas Becker
Guest
6 days 20 hours ago

Agree that customized packaging is only useful as short-term “buzz,” but that can be valuable and drive promos as well as reflect positively on the brand. An exception would be in the case of high-end (think Tiffany’s level) products. In this situation the consumer should expect personalization. What would be a greater opportunity for the mainstream is customized products where possible (M&M’s, Dove, etc).

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Personalization is pure marketing, and it can be powerful. The names on Coke bottles is just a start. Once the idea becomes a trend, many other manufacturers and retailers will find more opportunities to personalize. This is just the beginning!

For brands that can take advantage of this? Amazon has a jump start. Any retailer who ships has an opportunity. Consider this: If you can print a mailing label with someones address, why not the entire box?!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"While this sounds cool and seems smart, ultimately I’m going with this being a fad that will not add much bottom-line value."
"I don’t believe it is a strong enough initiative to be an effective way of building brand loyalty for other brands — or even for Coke."
"...a Coke bottle bearing my name sits on my desk. What can I say?"

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