Eight Ways Your Packaging Can Start Positive Buzz

Word of mouth and personal recommendation are powerful forces that drive sales in many categories. Can your packaging stimulate positive word of mouth? Here are some ideas and guidelines:
1. Improve consumers’ experience People are likely to tell their friends about products that are useful and easy to use. A self-heating coffee can is one recent example for such an innovation. Is there a way you can improve consumers’ experience through your packaging?
2. Give consumers something to talk about…People talk about things that are different, new and innovative. A GPS-enabled Coke can that is also a cell phone … people talked about that! Can you use stunning design, special materials or the latest technology to give consumers something to talk about?
3. …but sometimes the product should be king. The best buzz, however, sometimes comes not from packaging but rather from the product itself. Skin-care products from Kiehl’s have spread for years by word of mouth despite their pharmaceutical-inspired packaging: simple plastic bottles with text on white labels. The no-nonsense packaging conveys a straightforward message: “It’s what’s inside the bottle.”
4. Give consumers an opportunity to get involved. Co-creation is a powerful force behind word of mouth. People love to show others what they create. Jones Soda consumer labels are one example. Can you help consumers (especially young ones) express themselves?
5. Make it easy for consumers to spread the word. It can be as simple as a tell-a-friend coupon inside your package or a more complex promotion that ties to your web site. Can you build sampling into the packaging so that a satisfied customer will easily share your product with friends and family?
6. Take your product out of the cupboard. Products that are consumed in public are more likely to start conversations. Oscar Mayer did this in the 1980s with Lunchables. Campbell’s Soup at Hand and Listerine PocketPaks are more recent examples. Can you make your product more noticeable in a positive way? Can you take your product to the street? School? Workplace?
7. Make it easy for consumers to get in touch with you. When consumers have a negative experience, you want to make sure they talk to you, not to their friends. Is your 800 number easy to find on your packaging or is it buried in the small print?
8. Listen to what people are saying online. In addition to traditional research methods, listen to what consumers are saying about your product and its packaging in blogs, newsgroups and other online forums. You are likely to find more comments that focus on the product itself, but this may be another opportunity to improve your packaging.
Emanuel Rosen is the author of the best-selling book The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word of Mouth Marketing. Visit his web site at www.emanuel-rosen.com