Packaging is a valuable media channel which brands should be using to communicate added-value messaging and promotions, argues Alastair Lockhart of Savvy

Brands need to leverage ‘owned media’ in-store


Packaging is a valuable media channel which brands should be using to communicate added-value messaging and promotions, argues Alastair Lockhart of Savvy

As retailers seek more ways to differentiate from each other, we have seen the leading grocers take more control of their store environments. POS is highly templated, and even promotional mechanics are often under the control of retailers. At the same time, in-store compliance too often remains a source of frustration.

For brands – many already under price pressure and the threat of range rationalisation – this has made it increasingly difficult to activate effectively in-store. Granted there are exceptions where brands do create massive impact in-store, but these are typically isolated and are usually backed by substantial budgets.

With this in mind, the onus is firmly on brands to make their own media and assets work as hard as possible and to take control of the shopper journey wherever they can. There is no question that the proliferation of digital touchpoints has created new opportunities, but marketers need to take time to re-evaluate the potential of more traditional activity, in particular on-pack promotions. Indeed, I believe that the potential of on-pack promotions has never been greater.

Providing an added value on-pack is one of the most effective ways of standing out and creating an emotional connection at the point of purchase amongst a sea of price promotion offers. From the shoppers’ perspective, over half (57%) of UK them claim they are more likely to buy a particular product if it offers an added value on-pack.

From the brand’s perspective, compliance is guaranteed, brand equity creation can be placed at the centre of the campaign strategy and, crucially, on-packs create a direct relationship with the shopper and the consumer.

A skilfully crafted on-pack also has substantial potential to drive category sales and to engage shoppers at the point of purchase. And, with an insight-led customer overlay, the retailer wins too.

At its most basic level, product packaging is a brand’s primary interaction with shoppers in the store environment and can be used as a powerful means to communicate with shoppers. Consider the way that Mars has changed its brand flag to activate its sponsorship of the FA and its sister brand Snickers has altered its brand flag to reinforce its brand campaign and drive a link with the product’s target need state.

The best on-pack promotions do not sit in isolation but play an important role in a connected shopper journey.

Thanks to the application of technology, never has there been a better time for brands to make a stronger connection with consumers. On-pack campaigns can now extend beyond simple win and free gift with purchase mechanics. By using technology like Augmented Reality, brands can drive deeper engagement activating brand content on-pack and creating an on-going dialogue with consumers over a sustained period of time.

Use of digital touchpoints to enhance an on-pack and manage the shopper/consumer journey also provides a means to collect data, and subsequently measurement and valuable engagement insights.

Despite the potential of connected shopper campaigns that link on-pack promotions with digital touchpoints, it is rare that we see really good examples of this type of activity landing. In part this is because of a lack of true strategic planning by agencies, but in larger part it is a result of the way FMCG businesses are structured. Brand teams look after the brand, shopper teams look after shopper marketing and digital teams look after social channels. All too often, the communication between these teams is poor, or worse non-existent.

More and more shoppers expect a seamless, joined up journey – brands and agencies need to work more closely to make sure that experience is delivered.

Alastair Lockhart is Insight Director at creative, digital and retail marketing agency Savvy. Savvy is focused on shopper, retail and brand insight and has won multiple awards for its work. Clients include AB InBev, Mars, adidas, Pernod Ricard, Britvic and many other household names.