Nestlé’s global head of digital and social media, Pete Blackshaw, recently published his Digital Year in Review
. His mission? Smoothly connecting physical products with digital experiences
. His point of view is an intriguing one, which should make all of us in packaging lean in, listen closely, and ask ourselves: what role does consumer packaging play in our digital lifestyles?
It’s all about giving and giving
Digital content is not a zero-sum game of give and take. As a content generator for various platforms himself, Blackshaw emphasizes the importance of paying it forward. As packaging is the mother of all content
for consumer products, it should always give consumers:
- assurance that the product is safe (best before dates),
- accurate information about what’s in the product (ingredients and nutrition facts),
- and an expectation of what kind of experience they are about to have (imagery, color, texture).
And packaging gives back to marketing: the effort that goes into composing and quality-checking packaging can be re-used for online retail channels
in the form of content assets, symbols, ingredients, romance copy and even pack shots, adding to a consistent brand experience.
Digital & consumer packaging: a love-hate relationship
Blackshaw also points out the consumer’s love-hate relationship with technology. Our urge to be connected at all times continually alternates with a longing to unplug from the digital world. On the one hand, packaging should create an offline brand experience
, inviting consumers to spend more attention on tactile moments and appreciate the unique craft of physical objects. On the other hand, the codes and images on packaging should also provide an easy gateway to digital brand experiences
, giving consumers the option to plug back in easily.
Consumers just want to have fun
Blackshaw feels technology has been intimidating and functional for too long, mentioning the fun and ease of using Alexa compared to Siri. When technology is fun and simple, Blackshaw says, it becomes a diversion you can enjoy with your family. It’s the same with packaging design: packaging that is only functional is not selling the brand. Packaging must be both fun to look
at and fun to use
. The recently launched Tostitos bag that will call Uber for you
is a great example of this. Also, people tend to interact with and consume packaged goods during the prime of their lives, and so we believe we can expect packaging to take a cue from digital and provide more entertainment in the package experience
Appealing to a diverse consumer base
People are looking for ways to further integrate their lives by sharing experiences across devices, geographies and generations. Products with packaging that broadly appeals
to a diverse consumer base will be able to bring families and friends together as they use and consume the same products in pursuit of shared experiences (which are so tweet-able).
One consistent brand experience
Similar to an influencer like Blackshaw, ‘regular’ people experience life singularly, not in a digital life/physical life duality. How important is it, then, that digital product experiences
(marketing) set the stage for physical product experiences
(packaging), and vice versa? And that each plays off each other in one consistent brand experience, just like our cohesive, fluid consumer lives? We think Blackshaw would say: 😉
Packaging’s moment of truth
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