Deeply Connect with Consumers


Each day, marketers in the world of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and consumer packaged goods (CPG) wrestle with the very real challenge of breaking through commercial clutter. Clutter in the marketplace takes the form of tens of thousands of new products every year. The punishing barrage of information, paradoxically, forces consumers to screen out even more of our efforts.
Marketers need a new toolbox to create products that punch through this info-avalanche and connect with consumers in meaningful ways.
Not surprisingly, the elemental sensations that offer the most punch require the greatest stretch, and investment. These go beyond the normal design considerations of brand equities—properties like color, graphics, typography. While these brand equities need to evolve to maintain strategic brand positioning in an ever-shifting theater of visual communication, they are not the basis for radical, sensory appeals.
Marketers must expand their products’ sensory imprint. We need to build beyond the visual by enlisting the evocative power of scent, the thrill of touch and related, interlaced sensory experiences.
Sensory packaging is a powerful tool for activating consumer desire. It does so in three important ways: (1) by generating an unconscious emotional engagement with the physical experience of the product, (2) by creating a new bridge between the perception of a product and its performance and (3) by establishing a platform for extensions and trademarks that transcend optical equities.
By laddering beyond the visual, sensory packaging throws open a door to deep corridors of opportunity to create meaningful and rewarding auditory, olfactory and tactile experiences—sounds, scents, textures and temperatures—that break current, often unconscious usage cycles.
These sensory triggers are the building blocks of the new CPG and FMCG products, as well as the meaningful encounters that consumers will seek out and purchase time and again. Marketers need to rethink the grammar of their category—the meaning behind specific sensory sequences and layers.
By carefully readjusting blind expectations to deliver an engagement that delights, marketers will find themselves on the path of their brand’s “soft center,” the place where emotional logic trumps rational benefits and cost comparison. This “soft center” is where consumers discover the manufacturer’s genuine care and deep human connection with consumers.
While cost of goods will reflect a more complex experiential architecture, the deepened emotional connection compensates the expenditure, for the product both addresses and represents consumer aspiration. Sensory packaging amplifies the emotional component at the heart of a brand’s DNA.
So what do we need from the packaging industry? Expand our palette of creative materials to enable us to build these important brand connections with our users.
The author, Donna Sturgess, is Global Head of Innovation at GlaxoSmithKline. Donna is an advocate and creator of remarkable products and packages that invigorate the consumer experience.