When Packaging is Not Enough

These days, more and more people are carefully reading product packaging,  Packaging can be a powerful marketing tool to speak to your target audience.  I admit this is not my area of expertise as I primarily focus on B to B marketing and thrive on marketing services and complex products. But as a consumer, I value and appreciate the importance of packaging and that is why I am compelled to write about such an odd topic that could get downright dirty and nasty quickly.

Reading the packaging

Now, are you curious?!

I have been buying the same brand of toilet paper for years.  Remember the ads:  “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin”?!  I was sold on this brand and like many things in my life as a consumer, I am a loyal customer.  It makes decision-making easy and certainly makes grocery shopping as efficient as I can be.  If I like a brand, I stick with it.  Perhaps I would buy Cottonelle once in a while, but any good analyst would quickly realize that softness was a key feature of the brand that I purchased in this product category.

Not anymore.  I am done with Charmin.  Good bye Cottonelle.  Why you may ask?  Because, during a Sunday night service call, a drain guy digging up our front yard to solve a septic tank issue informed us that Charmin is bad. We should be using Scott!  Huh?  I had no idea.

The marketer in me immediately thought of why has this message not reached me and other folks living with a septic system?  We have lived in this home and been on septic for 14 years and I never knew this was a product differentiator?  Where have I been?  So, today, I went to the grocery store in between meetings and honestly, went down the toilet paper aisle with a curiosity that is not only weird, but very marketing-nerdy as I could not wait to see if the packaging of Scott toilet paper included messaging about its unique features.  Sure enough – a ‘septic safe’ message right on the package!

But, hold on! Marketers that messaging on the package is not enough!  Until today, I NEVER looked at the Scott’s packaging before because I do not look at ANY other brand of toilet paper in the whole aisle. The small ‘septic safe’ would have gone totally un-noticed as I went down this aisle with blinders on. Unless I had seen an ad or read an article about its benefits of being ‘septic safe’, I never would have known until this tatted guy casually solved our issue by telling us what I wish I had known 14 years ago – buy Scott.

Since Sunday evening, my mind has been thinking about all kinds of ways this message could be better shared to target home owners using septic, but I need to move on to focus on my clients and their needs.  However, there is a marketing lesson here and I am noodling it around in my head to remind myself of the broader opportunity this story highlights:  as marketers we have to think how best to reach our ideal target audience and convey the unique differentiators of our products and services in a way that matters to them and in a way that actually reaches them.  In this case, the packaging appears to be reinforcing a benefit to consumers already buying the product.  Without knowing for sure, I expect this product category has a fairly high brand loyalty.

Thanks Drain Man for informing me and saving me from future annoying and potentially expensive septic issues.  He is an influencer in my purchasing behavior and this loyal customer has switched brands to the one he recommended.

As I conclude, I have to say I am surprised to write such a blog and not even have one potty talk reference. Is that called maturity? Great Scott!

 

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One Response to “When Packaging is Not Enough”

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