Don’t forget packaging

And yet, what people are mostly buying it for is the packaging, the idea of a luxury product, or a personal relationship.

An in-store display of honey in glass jars next to cheese
Yes, glass jars cost more, but in this case, they also communicate “high quality” so they can charge a higher price. Note the placement of this display is near produce to communicate freshness and next to high-quality cheese, to emphasize the luxury of the product.
Honey in small glass jars that's been labeled for specific purposes, such as
Honey for various purposes? I doubt there’s much of a difference. And $4.49 per small glass jar communicates these as a luxury good (and potential gift item)
A round container of honeycomb with the honey still in it.
Honeycomb included in honey takes a gift to a whole new level of interesting and luxury, with a hefty price tag. Question: How many people know what to do with raw honeycomb?

The past few years, I’ve become very familiar with bees, and everyone’s favorite product from bees, honey.

As my fiancé, the beekeeper, would tell you, you can’t judge the quality of honey by the color or what it says on the package, you judge it by “the bubble test,” essentially turning a jar of honey upside down and watching how fast the air bubble moves to the now-top of the jar. The slower the bubble, the better the honey.

And honey supposedly purported to be from only a single plant (i.e. clover honey or lavender honey) isn’t always accurate either, as bees go where they please and like variety.

Now that you know all of this, you can see my amusement when I walk into a food store and see the varieties of honey available and the pricing related to them. The vast majority of the price differential is the packaging.

  • Honey in glass and/or special shaped bottles looks more expensive (and thus can command a higher price)
  • Including honeycomb greatly increases the price
  • Marketing honey as single source means smaller amounts for more money
  • Honey from far away feels exotic and special, resulting in an upcharge
  • Labeling honey for special purposes (such as “honey for cooking” and “honey for tea”) encourages people to buy more for these various purposes
  • Honey that seems special encourages people to give them as gifts

And yet, what people are mostly buying it for is the packaging, the idea of a luxury product, or a personal relationship. I recently purchased from thredUP and received my “used” clothes very prettily wrapped in paper, trying to emphasize their quality (vs. buying from Goodwill). Similarly, when Molly & You (formerly Molly & Drew) sends your order, it always includes a personal note and sometimes even a gift.

I’ve noticed similarly how many products I avoid, not because the product isn’t good, but because the packaging is terrible, such as a greek yogurt that I no longer buy because the lid is cheap and breaks too easily.

An opened shipping box of Molly & Drew bread mixes with a handwritten note that says
Molly & You (formerly Molly & Drew) orders come in a plain box, but includes a personal note from the person who packaged this. And, in this case, a surprise of a free pancake mix. Hopefully they can continue this personal touch as they continue to grow.

My challenge for you: Take a look at your packaging, whether it’s actual product packaging and shipping or packaging of your service.

  • Think about how your messaging is or isn’t extended through your packaging.
  • Do your customers like your packaging.
  • Are you losing/gaining customers due to your packaging?
  • What can you do to improve the packaging experience for your customers?


Creative marketing to sell smaller-than-normal fruits and vegetables

Some produce is priced per item (vs. per pound). Thus, consumers look for the largest produce they can to maximize their expenditure. Which means demand for larger produce keeps growing, so produce providers try to maximize the size of their produce. Then the cycle starts all over again.

I walk into my local grocery store, needing bell peppers (a favorite snack of mine). The red and orange bell peppers are $1.19 per pepper. So what do I do? I look for the largest, nicest pepper to get the most value for my money.

And thus I’ve become a part of an interesting cycle, one that I have a theory comes from marketing pricing strategy.

Here’s my theory:

Some produce is priced per item (vs. per pound). Thus, consumers look for the largest produce they can to maximize their expenditure. Which means demand for larger produce keeps growing, so produce providers try to maximize the size of their produce. Then the cycle starts all over again.

This theory and cycle create a lot of interesting consequences if you think about it. As someone who regularly meets with a dietician, one consequence is portion sizes; what I think is a small apple is actually a medium-large apple on the dietary scale. And, as we become more concerned with the long-term impacts of certain farming practices, encouraging ever-larger sizes may be causing ecological harm.

It also leads us with a lot of produce that could be considered “too small” for consumers. So, stores and food marketing companies are coming up with ways to combat this:

  • Selling produce by the weight vs. per item. The most straightforward answer is to change the pricing model to be weight-based vs. per item. Raise your hand if you’re “one of those” people who take the grapes you don’t need out of the bag and put them in another bag because they are sold by weight (I’m raising my hand).
  • Discounted ugly produce. Probably the most well-known version of this is Imperfect Produce boxes, but some stores have “ugly” bins. However, some critics say that this doesn’t solve the food waste problems it claims to solve.
  • Creative marketing of smaller produce. A few of my favorite examples are below. Although, the extra packaging is an obvious ecological downside. I do, however, find it interesting that they have names such as “Gator Eggs” for small avocados and “Lil Snappers” for apples which leads me to believe they are geared toward small children.

It’s an interesting theory and trend to follow.


Three small apples in a tennis ball canister on the grocery store shelf.
ROCKIT apples are small, sold in packaging that reminds me of tennis ball packaging.
Bags of small apples and bags of small oranges on a grocery store shelf.
Lil Snapper apples and oranges are small and come in pre-packaged bags.
Six avocados are in packaging similar to how chicken eggs are sold and are labeled "Gator Eggs" and single serving
Small avocados are marketed as “single serving” and “gator eggs.”



Gillette razors: Will their pricing strategy be their demise?

‘I wanted to ask you whether you’d got any razor blades,’ he said.

‘Not one!’ said Winston with a sort of guilty haste. ‘I’ve tried all over the place. They don’t exist any longer.’

Everyone kept asking you for razor blades. Actually he had two unused ones which he was hoarding up. There had been a famine of them for months past. At any given moment there was some necessary article which the Party shops were unable to supply. Sometimes it was buttons, sometimes it was darning wool, sometimes it was shoelaces; at present it was razor blades. You could only get hold of them, if at all, by scrounging more or less furtively on the ‘free’ market.

‘I’ve been using the same blade for six weeks,’ he added untruthfully.

– George Orwell’s 1984

If you are like me, you have a love/hate relationship with Gillette razors. Sometime seems very wrong with spending upwards of $4 per razor blade that will last a little over a week. It’s an expensive I simply would prefer to avoid. So, avoid I’ve tried. I’ve tried every other type of razor out there from the Meijer brand razor blades to ShopSavvy’s recommendation of the CVS Pharmacy razor blades (which, by they way, I found to be very unsafe to use). But, I’ve never found a razor blade that can compare to Gillette brands. So, grudgingly, I continue to buy them.

That’s why the article “A David and Gillette Story” from the Wall Street Journal gives me hope. Gillette has enjoyed years of expansive growth without ever having to reconsider its pricing strategy, but it looks like that may be changing.  In general, I think marketers don’t pay enough attention to the price part of the 4 P’s. But, in Gillette’s case, ignoring the price part of their marketing strategy might just be their demise. Or, at the very least, cost them significant market share. They’ve ignored the calls from their consumers for a lower-priced, quality blade and their consumers like me aren’t too happy about it. I buy Gillette razor blades because I don’t have a viable alternative. But the minute I do have one, I’ll switch.

So congrats to Dollar Shave Club for asking us all to rethink the price of our blades and good luck to Gillette as they reevaluate their pricing strategy.

A warning: The video below contains implied explicit content.