Product Packaging Design and Messaging: Don’t be a Pansy

It's tempting to answer the question: "what would it take for my product to appeal to a little bit wider audience or market?"  If you answer that question, repeatedly, and continue to make packaging changes based on the answers, you'll end up with something that speaks to a lot of people, but doesn't really say much.  Great for politics, not so great when trying to create perceived value.  

Seth Godin, in his post Telling a Story on the Label, brakes down how packaging adds $17 in value to a soap product.  It takes thought, and guts, to speak directly to who your market is, and turn away everyone who isn't.  Take it away Seth:

Seth godin packaging
 

Here's a $20 bottle of soap. Functionally identical to a $3 bottle, so what's the $17 for?

Let's assume the people buying it aren't stupid. What are they paying $17 for? A story. A feeling. A souvenir of a shopping expedition or perhaps just a little bit of joy in the shower every morning. Let's dissect:

1. The hang tag. It's special because most soap doesn't have a hang tag. Hang tags come on things that are a little more special than soap. And hang tags beg to be read. This one says a lot (and nothing, at the same time.) It reminds us that it doesn't contain SLS. What's SLS? Is it as bad as SLES?

2. This isn't soap. It's mineral botanic. Both words are meaningless, which means the purchaser can attach whatever feelings they choose to them. In this case, the marketer is hoping for old-time, genuine, down-to-earth and real.

3. It's not made by a soap company. It's made in a Dead Sea Laboratory. Laboratories, of course, are where scientists work, and the Dead Sea is biblical, spiritual and really salty. The company has a name (Ahava) that is onomatopoeic and reminds you of breathing. Breathe deep and find calm. [Even better, I'm told it means 'love' in Hebrew].

4. My favorite part is that it's made from bamboo and pansy. At least a little. Bamboo because it's fast growing and Asian and gentle and wood and grass at the same time. And pansy… well… pansy is for girls.

5. Two really good things here. First, it's for very dry skin. This is brilliant. If your skin is dry, you don't want to hear that it's sort of dry, kind of dry, not as dry as that guy over there… No, you want to hear that it's extremely dry, really dry, so dry it's like sand. That kind of dry. This bottle understands how very dry your skin is, and it's here to help.

Also, it's in French! I love that there's the language of love and sophistication and diplomacy right here on the bottle. I can imagine that models for Chanel are using it on the Rive Gauche as we speak.

6. Did I mention the part about velvet?

It took guts to take this packaging so over the top. It doesn't match my worldview, but it might match yours. There's not a lot of room for slightly-out-of-the-ordinary.

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