How can you increase your sales by 47%? It’s all in the packaging.
Gressingham Foods, a pre-packaged food company in the UK, wanted to change their brand image at the store. They were declining as a brand and wanted their image to project “premium but accessible.”
They hired Elmwood, a design firm that took a good look at their packaging and came up with a strategy to help them stand out. Because their competitors’ packaging was largely rectangular, Elmwood rounded the corners on Gressingham’s packages, differentiating them from the other products. They also changed the color to a warmer shade of yellow on black (a high contrast color combination known for being noticeable). The result of their changes was a 47% increase in sales with no additional marketing support.
The director of Elmwood, the design firm responsible for the changes, said this:
Part of the reason the food packaging industry is already so entrenched in using the subconscious is because so many of the decisions we make in the store are subconscious. Appealing to the subconscious any way you can in the highly competitive supermarket aisle requires more than just appealing to the rational thought processes of shoppers.
Your subconscious is a major player in the choices you make every day. We have written a great deal about this in my new eBook Unlocking the Hidden Customer Experience. Researchers are discovering more about how the subconscious helps you choose one product over another. The science of packaging is using these subconscious influences to alter our behavior.
It’s all about Neuromarketing, which is a type of marketing growing in popularity because it uses research to determine how a consumer’s brain responds to stimuli. According to an article on Adweek last summer, it is gaining favor but still most marketers are appealing to the rational side of their Customers. But one industry where marketers are fully embracing the effects of subconscious stimuli is the supermarket.
The idea a package influences a buying decision is not a new one. Malcolm Gladwell’s famous book from 2007, Blink, introduced this concept in detail. To summarize Gladwell, your mind sees a product on the shelf in a store and makes a decision about its quality, contents, and value in well…a blink. One famous quote from Gladwell explains how marketers use this fact to help you make a decision about their product:
Testers for 7-Up consistently found consumers would report more lemon flavor in their product if they added 15% more yellow coloring TO THE PACKAGE.
When you point it out after the fact, of course, the rational part of us thinks, “Well, that’s ridiculous. The color of the soda package has nothing at all to do with the taste of the soda.” And we would be right…except that our brain thinks it does. These influences are happening to the subconscious mind, which in turn responds emotionally and moves us toward a decision.
Package design triggered a specific memory. We often talk about White Coat Moments, which means how something looks creates an automatic response in us subconsciously.
It’s a phrase derived from the famous Milgram study from the 1960s where participants were encouraged to administer fatal shocks to another participant at the urging of an experiment proctor in a white lab coat. The person in the coat, however, was not a scientist or doctor, but just an actor with a memorized script. The participants didn’t know this, however, so they took his word as authority (because he was wearing the coat) and gave the person electric shocks marked “XXX!”
The White Coat Moment packaging creates in the individual varies to some degree but has enough of a uniformity that certain design elements evoke the same responses from individuals. Curving lines indicate comfort. Steam on a soup package reminds us of feeling cozy. Yellow on the soda package makes it taste lemonier.
Using the subconscious to build a brand is a great way to help create positive emotions with your Customers. It can also be a way to differentiate your brand in a new way. The subconscious can alter our behavior. Why not alter the behavior of your Customers to choose your product over the competitors?
What packaging do you like or hate? I would be interested to hear in your comments below.
To learn more ways you can use the subconscious to evoke the positive emotions you want from your Customer Experience, register for our Advanced Customer Experience Management (CEM) Certification Course beginning on April 20th. Please click here to learn more.
If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:
- White Lab Coat Moments: How the Subconscious Interprets Your Suit’s Appearance in a Professional Context
- How the Subconscious and Emotional Relationship Drives Our Purchase Decisions
- Subconscious Clues that Calls Us to Action
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author offour bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX