Packaging is King

The secret to selling a commodity product

Paragon’s octagonal sides flare out to reveal a fancy perfume bottle

From time immemorial mankind has attempted to distinguish the commoner from the king by the use of ‘robes of office’ or the symbols of power (and appeal), such as the crown (or turban). No wonder the idea, ‘Singh is King’ has so much appeal, says Deepak Manchanda

It is easy to see how the fiercely com- petitive retail markets too have adapted such practices to assert the superior- ity (or appeal) of their product compared to the next one on the shelf. It is well known that the attraction of beautiful packaging is everything in many categories of con- sumer products. People just wouldn’t buy most of the products they do without the lure of the beautiful boxes in which they are sold. Packaging today, indeed is King! And this makes the corollary, ‘Content is Not King!’ equally true.

Content is Not King

In a recent article, Andrew Odlyzko writes, “Content, to be effective and valu- able, is entirely reliant upon other factors. Content is extremely important, but it is not the ultimate, universally dominant entity. To call Content a ‘King’ is to revert to old fashioned imperialistic, phallocen- tric, male-dominated hierarchy. Even worse, ‘Content is King’ is a meaningless mantra that people chant, without being able to explain it.

“It almost goes without saying: fancy flashy packaging or presentation with poor content is going to fail. But even the world’s best content, all by itself, just sits there, isolated, accomplishing nothing, attracting nobody.

“Contrary to popular myth, Content is NOT ‘King.’ Being almost completely dependent on other factors, it is more accurate to refer to Content actually . . . as a Slave.

“Perhaps it’s because your highly exalted Content is missing the synergists that make it complete. Things like Pres- entation, Understandability, Substantia- tion, Findability, Relevance, Timeliness, Context, Usability and Convenience, for example. It is for these reasons that Con- tent cannot be King. Dethroned, or better, usurped by Connectivity, Presentation, and Interactivity, Content is low man on the totem pole.

“Many times, when someone is con- suming content they enjoy or find valu- able, their first impulse is to interact with it, by way of posting a comment, a ques- tion, a praise or a complaint.”

Some argue that ‘all things being equal, good content beats bad or no content.’ But one could also say ‘Packaging is King’ because nice, attractive packaging will be more compelling than ugly or no pack- aging.

As David Frey writes in his article, ‘The Secret to Selling a Commodity Product:’ “What can I do to differentiate my soap from the other soap that’s being sold in the market at constantly undercut prices?” He goes on to provide the answer himself: “Simply package your soap in a bright fluorescent yellow wrap- ping with a picture of the sun and rays of sunshine on it and call it, ‘Sunny Fresh.’ This will ensure that whether or not there is a real difference in quality between your soap and the other, the users will certainly begin to perceive a dif- ference in their minds.”

Mind-space domination

When packaging design sets out to dominate a piece of mind-space it often leaves the product far behind. Several such examples can be observed in the market-place. Two interesting examples I came across recently are illustrated here. The most noteworthy point about such products is that the packaging appears to completely overshadow the product by its own appeal such that it becomes a ‘product’ by itself. At such a point, it can be said that if packaging is king, the king not only performs his kingly functions (that is, governance of a market share) but also kindles an unmatchable appeal and feeling of loyalty amongst his subjects (customers).

May we daresay, watch out Singh…we have another King.

Canned Kangaroo – Export Quality

Keep contents within reach of children after opening.

Recently, when a friend was to return from Australia, he asked me what I wanted most from there. “Oh, nothing really” I said, “but you could try bringing me a kangaroo.” Imagine the surprise then, when on his return he handed me a can of Canned Kangaroo. This double-ended, paper labelled tinplate can arrives looking deceptively like a can of food-stuff, com- plete with its ‘use by’ date and ‘contents’ declaration. A can opener is required to open it and then out jumps ‘one red furry kangaroo.’ The rest of the label carries product story in the form of ‘Kangaroo Facts’ with a tip to watch out for boxing kangaroos.

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Canned Kangaroo — export quality

Stuffed, furry toys are sold around the world but surely not as uniquely pack- aged as ‘Canned Kangaroo.’

Paragon by Rasasi, Dubai

This smart red black, octagonal pack for Paragon Parfum looks like any other pack of fragrance till its lid is lifted. After the lid is removed the octagonal sides flare out in the shape of bright flower petals to reveal the fancy bottle of perfume inside. The octagon is made from one-piece box- board (250gsm) laminated inside with gold lacquered aluminium foil. The printed box-board is foil-stamped with text outside and by clever creasing and folding the box is held together by the cap (also box- board), printed with a red colour ground and the brand name Paragon in black.

It becomes quite evident that the charm and novelty of the way this package is presented is distraction enough for anyone to ignore the quality of the fra- grance inside the bottle.

Deepak Manchanda Consultant Packaging Design & Technology. Over 30 years experience in the packaging industry; From the Central Design Services of Metal Box, to Packaging Development in Ranbaxy, Dabur and Oriflame India. Currently, with Autumn Design Consultants, he offers packaging design solutions to a wide range of clients in varied industry sectors.

This article was published in Nov-Dec 2009.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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An engineering graduate from BITS, Pilani and a Post-Graduate Diploma from Milan, Italy in Human Factors Engineering. Over 40 years of work experience in branding, packaging design & development. Worked as Head of Packaging at Oriflame – Silver Oak; Dabur India and Ranbaxy Laboratories. Currently - an Associate with The Packaging Consortium – a packaging development consultancy. Worked closely with Jindal Polymer Films for Application Development of Specialty Films for flexible packaging. Now a packaging consultant for some reputed companies. He is also an Associate Director with Firstouch Solutions – a design company providing services in Brand Comm, Packaging, Exhibitions and Branded Retail Environments. He is closely associated with the Indian Institute of Packaging as a Member of the Northern Regional Committee. He is also active as a contributor to Packaging South Asia magazine and other journals and at forums and conferences. Has been writing articles on packaging design and marketing for Packaging South Asia since 2007.


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