Every marketing student learns about the five “p’s” of marketing – Pricing, Place, Product, Promotion, and People. The missing “P” is packaging, which some will teach is part of Product, and others will claim is part of Promotion. Either way, it’s frequently the forgotten child of marketing that can spell business success or failure.
A key case in point is Coca-Cola. Without a doubt, Coke is always discussed in conversations about great brands. Recently, the story of Coke was featured on CBS Sunday Morning, itself a perennial news brand. As the story goes, Coca-Cola was so successful, that me-too products popped up around the globe. In a marketing meeting, Coke executives realized their brand franchise was in danger, and decided to invent brand packaging – the now iconic coke bottle – so that even in the dark, by feel alone, a consumer would know “the real thing” from a substitute. When aluminum cans became the norm, color became a larger concern for differentiating the brand, and Coke’s “red” became another text-book marketing example of the importance of color in serious brand management.
How does this apply to you if you’re a small to mid-sized business not of Coke caliber? Don’t underestimate packaging as a key differentiating factor. Packaging means everything from how you label your business to how you package your goods and services. Consider these examples:
- Where The Art Is – This party decorations firm located in Paramus, NJ was literally started out of a garage. The decorations are unique and memorable, with many centerpieces kept for years to come in the homes of the guests and/or hosts. Under each piece is the company’s label with contact information. If you want a party decorator years later, you’ll be able to find Where The Art Is due to a simple packaging label.
- Chico’s – Now a well known women’s wear franchise, the store endeared itself to women through a wrinkle-free travel line that was also figure forgiving. Priced high, consumers don’t feel cheated as each purchase is carefully wrapped generously in beautiful tissue paper and each bag is tied off with rainbow ribbons. Both touches are not necessary and add extra expense, but both are part of the Chico’s experience and brand.
- Two Tin Crows – This unique gift store in Northfield, NJ (outside of Atlantic City), makes sure that gifts are beautifully wrapped using bags folded just so. It’s a simple technique, but one done exquisitely by the owner. It takes the added expense of gift wrapping off the consumer and makes the purchase that much easier. The point of these three examples is that it only takes a little extra effort to make your packaging work wonders for you as a differentiating value proposition.
The Walk-away: Take a look at your packaging, from your windows to your logo. Are you doing all you can to put your best look — if not foot — forward? Packaging is a Key “P” in Marketing.