Editor’s note: With effect from this issue the Stabroek Business will be publishing occasional features that have a direct bearing on the marketing of goods and services produced by local small businesses. The features will be based on our own research and on relevant information contributed in pieces sent to us by contributors. The pieces will only be used if we are satisfied that they seek genuinely to contribute to the furtherance of the growth of the small business sector.
The information contained in this article is based on an edited version of an article titled `The role of packaging in marketing and sales of a product’ published by marketing professional Hitesh Bhasin in February 2018.
By Hitesh Bhasin
One of the most important elements in the Marketing mix is Promotions. And lately, packaging has become a strong element of the Marketing mix. Some say it should fall under Promotions because it helps in attracting attention for the product. Others say, it serves a much higher purpose than only promotions and hence the argument is that packaging can become the 5th P of the marketing mix. Nonetheless, we feel the role of packaging is very important in Marketing and sales.
Here are a set of crucial roles that packaging plays in an organization or for the product.
Information and self- service for the customer
One of the first roles that packaging plays, especially in new products launches, is the information provided on the packaging. This information can tell the consumer how to cook the food product, how to use a technology product or it can lay out procedures and precautions necessary during the use of the product. The role of packaging is to convey the information to the customer.
Packaging information can also be used as a means of safeguarding the company. In case someone sues the company for information not provided, and that information is already printed on the packet, then the company can raise its hands and say that the information was already provided.
The role of packaging in increasing sales is evident. Innovation in packaging can lead to more sales because more and more customers prefer (easy to open; easy to close) packaging. The sachets (for example) used for small packaging of oil, shampoo or any other small items have increased the sales of these items. They are easy to carry, easy to be sold and can also be used as samples for the product.
Besides being attractive and promoting the product, another purpose that packaging serves is in safeguarding the product. Protection of the product, carrying it safely, not allowing damage of the product, transportation of the product are all examples of the utility and the role that packaging plays. Grocery items, for example (eg. salt and sugar) come suitably packaged to prevent pest invasion. The utility of the product can also be increased by changes in packaging design.
In many cases the brand recognition and the brand image relies on the packaging of the product. The packaging (bottle, box etc) is the brand’s symbol and used in a wide variety of ways to signify the quality of the product. The more expensive and well designed the packaging the more the value of the product stored inside.
6) Differentiation –
A key role of packaging is differentiation. A look at a product may tell you exactly how packaging can differentiate between products. (Each Sunsilk shampoo, for example, is made by a different hair expert and the objective of each Sunsilk shampoo is different as well. One of them will be for anti- dandruff, whereas other will be for hair fall and yet another will be for smoothening the hair. Consequentially, all you have to do is go to the supermarket and buy the colour of shampoo packaged to suit your particular needs.
8) The main role of packaging is in consumer decision making. Packaging is the final salesman on the frontier. You spend a lot on advertising, branding, marketing and sales and you got the customer inside the showroom and in front of a line of products. Many a time the decision taken by the consumer is influenced by the packaging. Hence you will find that books pay a lot of attention to the covers. Publishers understand the age-old philosophy that many people buy a book based on its cover.