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On Pack .. the untapped communication medium

As the rise and rise of Generic brands begin to dominate our grocery isles, it is any wonder Branded manufacturers are wondering what they can do to convince their consumers of the additional value in branded products. Whilst key product positioning within the supermarket shelves is a success factor in consumer propensity to purchase, consumers are becoming smarter and want to know the value of a brand before paying a premium to the generic.

I think many are failing to effectively utilise the one piece of real estate that they have the most control over. Product packaging can be used to effectively communicate to consumers, but too often is it only used for “Best ever”, “Now with the next best thing ingredient” or even “Look, we are now worth paying that bit extra for!”

Here are some new and emerging trends
1. Unique code identifiers.
Products can now be manufactured with a unique product id so that every individual product sku has it’s own identifier. This can be used for promotions that link the opportunity to enter with actual purchase. Usually on the inside of the label, the unique id can then be keyed into a website enabling additional brand communication. Alternatively the unique id can be sms’d to a special number.

2. Product usage tips
Many products can take advantage of the packaging to educate consumers in product usage. Recipes, Training tips are good examples. What you can’t fit into a the package can be used to provide a short explanation and a link to a website for a longer description.
Often individual usage tips could be placed on different varieties enabling greater education across the product range.

3. Functional Claims
Too often brands have lost the ability to communicate the basic USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of their product and the package is an all important way to do this.
99% Fat Free, Low GI, Omega 3, Gluten free and other functional claims have gained popularity recently. I think as consumers seek out products with certain claims, manufacturers could do a lot to enhance their products by helping consumers identify products within a certain function.

4. Augmented Reality Marketing
Augmented RealityNow for something on the new frontiers .. and that is the idea that you could embed special descriptions onto a package that when an camera is placed over the descriptor, a 3D image of the brand or claim stands out from the package .. think of the Princess Leia recorded message being displayed from R2D2. Augmented Reality overlays information within an environment to enhance a person or group’s capabilities to act in an environment. Data, text, images, sound & video. I had an opportunity to view an Augmented Reality demo at a conference recently. Certainly gives you perhaps the final reason to upgrade your phone to one that has an on board camera.


Podcasting is gathering favour thanks to Apple who have now incorporated Podcasts in their menu structure of itunes version 4.9

What is a Podcast? Here’s the definition from The Podcast Network

“The long story…a podcast is an audio show similar to a radio broadcast (but better and more relevant to you…the listener) that is either downloaded from a website or delivered via an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed automatically to your desktop music application via an aggregator, or a podcatcher application as some like to call it.

The short story…its great and relevant audio content, that is easy to get and that you can listen to anytime and anywhere.

Podcasts can be available in a number of audio formats including MP3, WMA and AAC, though MP3 tends to be the most favoured format due to wide spread acceptance by pretty much all types of portable music devices like the Apple iPod and the Creative Zen.”

Podcasts seem to fall into several categories
1. Music playlists (some with or without commentary)
2. Latest News type of podcasts either for movies, music and usually published by existing media agencies of tv or radio.
3. Niche talkback shows that often publish a 1 hour show each week

There maybe other categories, but I want to consider the topic of advertorial content or the best way to advertise using Podcasting.

Companies with big brands that have a fanatical audience can probably create a direct Podcast from their existing websites. Brands that service the hobby market such as SCX slot car racing could conduct interviews with various slot car clubs which would include news of product updates, and sponsored competitions etc.
General Motors already run their own blogs to communicate to their various segments and recently started to include a Podcast to their blog called Fastlane to extend the richness of their communication medium.

But what if your brand doesn’t have fanatical consumers? Whilst it may be difficult to think of a reason to use Podcasting to talk about tissues, or a tin of beans, I believe there are opportunities for Brands that want to be seen as innovators to utilise Podcasting to help communicate things that other media is either too expensive or not suited for.
Examples could be, a Wine Appreciation discussion where Wine Growers, Makers and other interesting parties are interviewed to educate consumers on types of grapes, wines and events. Other examples are a Pet Talk back show which could discuss the joy of Petcare, a New Parent talk back show talking about how to care for a newborn baby.

Certainly all companies could use Podcasting as a way to communicate leadership and strategic direction to their employees. There are many good examples of this, and the tech industry giants like IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft are good examples of incorporating this tool into everyday communication to their employees.

So, in summary, Podcasting may be relatively new and most Brands are still to get their head around Blogging .. but I believe the Brands that embrace this technology will be better placed to attract the increasing consumer audience that is finding favour with this medium.

Add that something special to your drink?

We have heard of pass the salt, but how about “pass the straw”?
Yes .. you will soon be able to get your favourite flavour delivered via a straw.

Unistraw™ is a patented straw drinking system that delivers flavours, nutrition, energy, or specific pharmaceuticals through beads that dissolve in the course of drinking.
The Unistraw™ drinking system has application across the following areas:
§ Flavouring milk, water, wine, and soda
§ Deliver energy, salts and minerals for the sports market
§ Deliver health-value and vitamins for the lifestyle market, and
§ Transport proteins, antibodies, probiotics, and specific pharmaceuticals for the health market.

The Unistraw is not just a new product; it is the basis of a completely new category of products. The Company expects the Unistraw to enormously influence the global beverage industry by providing a fresh, innovative way to deliver taste and nutrition to consumers.

Check it out!