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?

 

You can have any feature you want, as long as you (still) only want one

Although it’s never been proven that Henry Ford ever said “You can paint it any color, so long as it’s black” when referring to the Model T, the legend serves as a good example of a snapshot in time, and a way of thinking about marketing and consumers. It was the factory approach, that didn’t allow for customization of products or services.

Today we talk heavily about the consumer being able to customize anything they want, but is this really true? Or are we only allowed to customize certain aspects that companies want us to be able to?

I still have an iPhone 4s. Partially this is because I value money more than the latest technology, but partially it’s because I can’t find the case that I want. I currently have a MossGreg case and I LOVE IT. I love the wallet part of it and I don’t want to give that up . But, as I’ve mentioned on Twitter, my iPhone drains battery like a chocoholic who found a Hershey’s Syrup bottle (admittedly, partially because of my use patterns). So I’ve been on a mission to find an iPhone 5s case that is both a wallet and an extended battery. So far, I’ve only found one, by an unknown company, with very mixed reviews.

The major iPhone case suppliers offer many different colors and styles, but they don’t mix features. You can have an extended battery, but no wallet, no waterproofing, etc. Basically, pick one feature, and no more than one.

If we truly believe that the wave of the future is customization, we still have a ways to go.