Lately there seems to be a trend to develop new packaging to save sinking product sales. Rethinking your packaging isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but it’s likely that your packaging isn’t the reason for your sales slump. Adding a gimmick to your packaging won’t save the fact that your product is painfully mediocre, or worse.
Miller Lite’s introduction of the punch top can leaves me wondering what the major pain point was that they were solving for the target audience. It’s advertised to pour smoother and better. If we follow the logic of why many people drink canned beer the biggest reason is portability. You can throw a case of cans in a cooler for picnicking, tailgating, camping and barbecuing. None of these activities involve pouring the beer into a cup or glass of any kind, so what real advantage does the new punch top have for consumers?
I remember using the sharp-end of a bottle opener to punch two holes in my Hawaiian Punch cans to keep from splattering red juice all over the counter. The pull tab in the late 70’s eliminated the need for the punch top when it came to canned drinks, and was perfected in the mid-80’s with the tab punch top. So, why is Miller taking a step back in the evolution of canned drinks. It could be that Miller was hoping to capture the college-aged shotgunning crowd. If this is the case then the punch hole needs to be near the bottom of the can, but that would also mean that they were advocating enjoying irresponsible drinking.
The reality is that the majority of the major beer distributors have seen a drop in sales as the prominence of craft beer has grown. Instead of innovating through better and wider selections of brews, Miller has continued to make the same consistently bland beer in a new gimmicky package. My advice to Miller is make your product better or cheaper instead of introducing old solutions to packaging that don’t solve a problem for anyone.
Dentyne began marketing it’s new Split2Fit Pack earlier this year guaranteed to solve the biggest problem that has plagued gum chewers for centuries — fitting it in their pocket. Their gum packaging is perforated, so you can split it in half to fit in your pocket. Who exactly is having trouble fitting a pack of gum in their pocket? Most women carry gum in their purse, and most men don’t carry gum. I’m not sure who this is targeting. Maybe hipster guys that wear jeggings, and love crazy fresh breath. This could explain the strange tweet-like nature of the product name.
If this is in fact a real problem, why not just make smaller packages of gum. Dentyne didn’t invent the perforated tear, but the way they talk about Split2Fit you’d sure think they did. It could be that I’m not like most consumers in that I’d rather by gum that tastes good and lasts long, so you could wrap it in aluminum foil and put it in a paper bag before I’d care about the packaging. Basically, a smaller pack with the “newly invented” perforation doesn’t interest me if your product is bland.
Mentos has also entered the young, hipster market with their own take on tweet-inspired naming with Up2U gum. They’ve opted to attack the problem that consumers are clearly indecisive when purchasing gum, so they’ve given you the option to choose packs with two flavors in them. The product name implies that you have more freedom to chose with the name Up2U, when in fact you have less freedom because the flavors are already packaged together.
This is just a classic case of bundling. A manufacturer takes a flavor that is mildly popular like spearmint, and bundles it with a stomach-turning, unpopular flavor like dogfart. This forces consumers to buy the unwanted inventory, and throw it away which is what the manufacturer should have done in the first place. Of course if they did that then dogfart would be a loss, and someone might have to be held accountable for approving that turd.
If I want two flavors of Mentos gum, then I’ll buy the two flavors that I prefer. My freedom to chose is much greater when you don’t bundle flavors for me, especially since I don’t like watermelon. Why not continue to give us what we expect, and let the bad experiments go? Don’t punish your consumers for your poor decisions.
Packaging is one of the most important factors to marketing your product in a retail setting, and in the case of gum and beer it serves a utilitarian purpose as well. In these instances, the packaging was never the problem for customer attrition. Innovation was placed on marketing a solution around a fabricated problem. True innovation comes from delivering something unexpected that solves a problem for the majority of your target audience. It’s never gimmicky, and it always adds value to the overall brand experience.