How brands can leverage the packaging to create a sound connect with the customer

First impression is a very critical aspect to manage, be it for an individual or a firm.

Opinions formulated at the start often play a crucial role in influencing long-term interactions.

It is pertinent to remember that first impressions are not transitory, and they cast a prolonged impact on the future. In psychology, a term captures the first impression’s effect; it is called the primacy effect.

According to the primacy effect, people tend to remember the first piece of information they encounter better than information presented later on. In human-to-human interaction, first impressions are cast by a wide variety of engagements like looks, speech, tone, tenor, dress, body language, etc. In the brand-to-customer interaction, the first impression’s scope is minimal; it is the packaging that impresses the customer with its worth or unworthiness. The adage, “make a good first impression,” applies to people and brands alike.

Phil Kotler, the marketing Guru, is renowned for his insightful approach to brand management. He has penned several books, and one of his most famous ones happens to be the ‘Principles of Marketing’. In this book, Kotler had introduced the concept of 4Ps in Marketing, namely, product, price, packaging, placement. In the same, he defines packaging as “all the activities of designing and producing the container for a product.” Essentially, packaging can be defined as the wrapping material around the product to cover, contain, protect, and promote a specific brand. According to MeadWestvaco’s research, packaging plays a significant role in product satisfaction for the customer, even in India. Most Indian consumers gave high importance to the packaging as compared to the global average. The packaging is almost as important (71 percent) as the product’s brand (75 percent).

Keeping aside the marketing bit, the importance of packaging can be attributed to following factors:

Trust: Packaging helps build trust with the customer, reaffirming the product’s genuineness and the brand.

The fundamentals of packaging apply to the mattress just like any other product, the bedding industry does have some unique challenges. Primarily these challenges pertain to size, time, and transport. In essence, packaging for mattresses must protect against moisture, dust, and other contaminants

If the company has a long history, the packaging can leverage that to build trust.

Preservation: Packaging helps protect the product from any external damage. This protection ranges from when the product is shipped to the retailer, to when the customer buys it from the shop.

Attraction: Like the plant attracts pollinators through the flowers’ beauty, a company attracts potential customers through packaging. The way the product is packaged attracts the consumer to look at the product on the store shelf. Hence, companies undertake extensive research on design, color schemes, and the type of packaging used.

Enabling Purchase: By providing relevant information to the customer, packaging can significantly aid the purchase decision. For instance, health-conscious customers would check the label for details about the ingredients and the impact on health before making a choice.

Differentiation: Companies can achieve brand differentiation through packaging. Through colors, logos, etc., customers distinguish one brand from the other. Many times, the customer might identify with the company brand, which propels them to buy the product. If the product packaging changes, it may change the brand perception of the company. This could lead to a delay in purchase decisions till the consumer can relate to the new packaging.

Mattress packaging

While the fundamentals of packaging apply to the mattress category just like any other product category, the bedding industry does have some unique challenges. Primarily these challenges pertain to size, time, and transport. In essence, packaging for mattresses must protect against moisture, dust, and other contaminants. It also needs to be sturdy enough to prevent damage during shipment. Because of the size, weight, and shape of a mattress, achieving these results requires innovation and technology.

Additionally, mattresses are hard to move and store; they’re heavy, not waterproof, and customers expect them to arrive in immaculate condition. Since mattresses are also shipped from multiple locations, you also need a solution that is not bulky or further escalates the shipping charges. One of the significant innovations from the packaging point of view has been compressed packaging; this aids in easy transport. Compressed mattresses are also cheaper to transport. According to estimates, compressed mattresses save near 70 percent space in comparison to uncompressed ones. Typically, an automatic mattress seal compressor is used for compression packing and turning it into a roll.

The best instance of this shift is the new bed-in-a-box. Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of companies selling mattresses in a box, dubbed as the ‘bed in a box’ category of mattresses. Unlike traditional mattresses that are carted in a “ready to sleep” format, the bed in a box is a mattress made of memory foam, compressed and rolled up so it can be shipped and delivered in a courier box. All that the customer has to do is unroll it, unwrap it, and wait for it to reinflate.

This medium of the card-board box offers the company a grand opportunity for branding and advertising. A brand can elevate the design to an entirely new level through an interplay of color, fonts, illustrations, and graphic elements. (Read the Case study of Eve Mattress). Some of the best practices for a standout design can be listed as:

Colour play: Use color contrasts for a standout design.

Illustrative: Use distinctive visual assets to create an attractive solution Branding: It should be in accordance with the brand strategy

Informative: Share the information about the product upfront and in bold on the box

Innovative: Functionalities are also appreciated, like how about a handle on the top, or hand-holds on the side.

Creativity: Creativity always scores high. For instance, can the box be turned into a doll-house or a board-game? Can the instructions be given on a website through a QR-code sign-in?

In the end, packaging can be an excellent opportunity to engage the consumer. A brand should leverage that to the maximum, even when the mattress is delivered in a box on the doorstep. Casting first impressions are necessary, as Andrew Grant used to say, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” So, make the best one you can.

Case Study: How Eve mattress got their packaging right

Eve Sleep Plc is a UK-based company that primarily sells mattresses online. Founded in 2014, the company manufactures four different mattresses. The current Original has a three-layer design incorporating memory foam. The mattress is vacuum-packed and folded into a box and can be easily delivered and moved up staircases, unlike traditional mattresses. When unpacked, the mattress recovers its original shape and is ready to sleep on within hours.

Packaging can be an excellent opportunity to engage the consumer. A brand should leverage that to the maximum even when the mattress is delivered in a box on the doorstep

Eve Sleep’s products are designed and made on-demand in the UK and the United States.

To differentiate its product from the rest of the ‘bed-in-box’ competitors, Eve decided to redefine its advertising and marketing strategy with the packaging at the center of it. It starts with an easy-to-handle, crisp white box branded with a bright yellow logo rising and setting over the corners. When the box is opened, the mattress ‘bursts out’ of the box – like someone jumping out of bed. The box’s inner lid is very inviting and shouts ‘wakey, wakey, rise and shine’. As the company believes it to be “the world’s most comfortable mattress” and “the perfect mattress” at a third of the price of an equivalent high street mattress, the packaging reflects that ethos.

To match Eve’s vitality and freshness, its packaging box features the brand’s signature sunny, vibrant yellow and plays on the palindromic nature of the logo. The company wanted the box to look fantastic on doorsteps and the trailers of bicycle couriers making deliveries around London. Hence the color palette chosen was bright and inviting.

And then, as the customer is waiting for the mattress to inflate and take its proper shape, they can spend some time reading some interesting quotes on sleep printed on the inner side of the box. The lively typography and upbeat language add to the consumer experience derived from buying the mattress.

Case Study: Sustainable packaging with Hypnos

Hypnos is a family-run bed-making company in the UK. The company has been making beds and mattresses for 100 years for the Royals and claims to be the world’s most comfortable bedding. The company has ingrained sustainability into its ethos and is the first British bed and mattress manufacturer to become Carbon-Neutral.

Taking this commitment further, Hypnos launched a carbon-neutral eco-packaging solution. The company has created a new recyclable, eco-friendly packaging solution that will be used for beds and mattresses across both retail and contract factories. It comes as part of the cutting-edge manufacturer’s significant efforts to design its packaging from sustainable and renewable sources and eliminate the use of harmful, fossil-based products.

At the heart of the packaging is sugar cane, a renewable and carbon dioxide-depleting resource. Sugar cane ethanol is combined with recycled plastic, a carbon footprint that can be up to four times lower than that of standard plastic, helping those who use it to reduce their carbon footprint massively. The use of ethanol, a by-product of sugarcane production, and recycled plastics that form a green polyethylene (a more environmentally-friendly form of plastic) mean the creation is carbon neutral and 100 percent recyclable as well. Furthermore, it’s incredibly durable and has superior technical properties to regular polythene, performing better puncture tests.

Hypnos led the challenge by working in partnership with a specialist green polyethylene manufacturer to create the cutting-edge solution which could be a sustainability game-changer across the entire bed and furniture industry. To help other mattress companies, Hypnos made the decision not to patent or trademark this packaging. Instead, the company is calling on industries around the world to ditch single-use polythene and make the transition to this 100 percent recyclable product.