Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Packaging Origin Oman

In today’s congested business world, packaging has become a critical factor; it can often make or break a product. If the packaging is right, people will buy a product without even trying it because most associate superior packaging with quality. “It’s generally accepted that 70 - 80% of a consumer's purchasing decision is made at the point of sale. In supermarkets, for example, research shows shoppers spend an average of less than 10 seconds in any single product category, so decisions are made quickly and often based on what a product looks like,” says Hamida Al Balushi, Origin Oman Co-ordinator and organizer of Origin Oman’s 18 April Product Design and Packaging Workshop scheduled to be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Muscat.

The look and feel of the product, design, colour, labelling, price and the name of the product itself are all things that trigger us to stop and look at items on shelves. “Most of these triggers either are, or can be influenced by packaging,” suggests Al Balushi. Indeed, potential consumers will touch, rate and even smell a product simply based on its packaging. With so much at stake, having a product packaged creatively will increase the likelihood of it being bought and re-bought if it lives up to its name.

However, according to Al Balushi, attention to packaging is a crucial step that’s often neglected in business. “Ask yourself this question, would you buy a plain looking item or something excitingly packaged that makes everyone drool?” smiles Hamida.“Everyone knows that packaging attracts attention, provokes and communicates volumes about the product it contains and the brand. Think about a box of chocolates, would you buy one with ‘Cheap Chocs' printed on the box if you were taking it as a gift - even if the contents were just as good as those at twice the price?” asks the Origin Oman Co-ordinator.

So packaging is important but many Omani companies make the same mistake - they only ever think about packaging when they launch a new product. If packaging is so important as to influence 70 - 80% of a consumer's purchasing decision then it must be continually reviewed and tested. “This is the type of message we aim to get out at the 18 April Workshop. In this regard, we’ll be bringing in key experts to lead the discussions. This will include, Peter Ford, Reader in Design Innovation at Leicester’s De Montfort University. Peter is a major player in his field, having worked on product design and packaging initiaties with companies like Adidas; British Nucleur Fuels; Black & Decker; The Post Office; and Lucas Automotive. He will be joined by Rawan Darwish, Shaun Loftman and Stuart Jeal from Landor Associates – a firm with a long-standing, top-clas international reputation for bringing innovative design solutions.”

“Packaging is an important marketing strategy and one that Oman-based manufacturers shouldn’t neglect,” says Ford, adding: “Most consumers judge a product by its packaging before buying. So it’s logical to say attractive packaging is crucial in order to get the first time buyer to choose your product. Without good packaging, who would buy it in order to try it? Your first step to enter the market is crushed if the packaging is ugly.”

Having eye-catching packaging doesn’t mean you should neglect quality either. Repeat sales depend on high quality products. “Converting first time buyers into loyal customers should be the main goal of your business and packaging is the door to it,” adds Ford

Incorporating new package design into the re-branding process isn’t something to rush into blindly, it’s important to get it right according to Landor’s Shaun Loftman (pictured): “Tinkering with packaging is often the first response company’s use to rejuvenate a tired brand. Frequently, this approach results in an early incremental increase in market share which is then quickly lost once consumers realise it's the same old product.”

“If Oman-made products are going to appeal to consumers then we need to re-think our approach to packaging and product design. Indeed, as Oman’s economy develops, consumers are increasingly turning to packaged goods, which offer convenience, quality, aesthetics and lifestyle branding. Economic development has also seen the emergence of a burgeoning Omani middle class, which places a growing importance on matters of taste and appearance. This increasing consumer sophistication is satisfied in part by creatively packaged goods, which offer the promise of higher quality as well as status,” comments Ibtisam Al Faruji, Origin Oman’s Marketing Director.

And a final word from Hamida: “I strongly believe the 18 April Origin Oman Product Design and Packaging Workshop offers an interesting and important opportunity for us to address the design and packaging challenges that face local manufacturers and retailers.”

You’ve 10 seconds to impress. So what makes good packaging?

If your target audience wants to feel they’re saving money then making your product look cheaper using plain packaging and a 'No Frills' message would be right - the reality is that the packaging 'origination costs' will bear little or no impact on the product price but it makes the product feel cheaper.

Most consumers like to try new things and the only way to buy something that is worth their investment is through the depiction of the design or image of the packaging. Be creative in your packaging to help better impress potential consumers to buy your product.

Creative packaging help breaks the consumer’s fear of a bad purchase. It also opens the door for products to be tried at least once from first time users. Packaging is a crucial element that can’t be neglected.

If consumers only spend 10 seconds then they get a lot of information about a product by just looking at the pictures on the packaging than from reading the text. Colour can also convey a message about your product and shortcut communication with consumers. Though be aware, colour has different meanings in different cultures so it needs to be researched. Where text is used, make it easy to read and use language that connects with the target audience.

With only 10 seconds, consumers will generally go with what they’re familiar with. However, in the absence of relevance the consumer will always fall back on price. If a consumer has seen your product in advertising they feel that they already know what it can do for them, they will be more likely to buy your product. If you're going to get the biggest bang for your marketing Rial then everything from the company’s ads, branding and packaging must carry the same and consistent message.

The best examples of this are squeezy ketchup bottles and plastic toothpaste tubes - the physical and practical packaging is as important as the aesthetics. It must add to the positive experience of using the product. At the end of the day, it has to be easy to open and easy to use.

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