Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wrap Up Properly Says Origin Oman

In today’s more sophisticated market, packaging has become a critical factor and can often make or break a product and the company that produces it. 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 that Oman-based shoppers spend less than 10 seconds in any single product category, so decisions are made very quickly and often based on what a product looks like,” says Hamida Al Balushi, Origin Oman Co-ordinator and organizer of the campaign’s Product Design and Packaging Workshop held on Saturday 18 April 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 Rawan Darwish of Landor Associates and one of the workshop’s presenters. “It’s an accepted fact that most consumers rate a product simply based on its packaging. With so much at stake, having a product packaged creatively will undoubtedly increase the odds of it being bought and then re-bought. Today’s workshop explored these issues and I’m sure attendees will have left with ideas on how they can maximize their business by improving their packaging.”

According to His Highness Sayyid Faisal Al Said, CEO of the newly-launched Oman Brand Management Unit (OBMU) and supporter of the Origin Oman campaign: “attention and power of packaging is often overlooked by Omani manufacturers in the rush to get the product to market– it’s an oversight that’s costing many firms dear. The OBMU CEO goes on to say: “Ask yourself, would you buy a plain looking item or something excitingly and attractively packaged. Which do you reach for first?”

Al Balushi agrees: “Everyone knows that packaging attracts attention, provokes and communicates volumes about the product it contains and the brand. If you were buying a gift, would you choose the one with ‘Super Saver Chocs' printed on the box - even if the contents were just as good as those at twice the price? I know which one I’d pick up.”

Packaging is an important marketing strategy and one that Oman-based manufacturers shouldn’t neglect, suggests Peter Ford of De Montfort University who traveled in specifically from Britain to present at the workshop.

“Most consumers” observes Ford, “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.”

One of the key messages that emerged from the workshop was that if locally made products are going to appeal to domestic and international consumers then firms need to seriously re-think their approach to packaging and product design. Indeed, economic development has seen the emergence of a growing 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.

Given the current economic crisis and the fact that companies are slashing marketing budgets, “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,” argues Ford. “let’s face it, attractive and creative packaging doesn’t have to cost any more than unattractive packaging.”

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