brand by tangshuming


   Brands are tailoring their
   packages to niche markets
   and, even, markets of one

   T     he latest proof that Nike pushes
         the marketing envelope is in
   Times Square, where the company
   has bought a billboard inviting con-
   sumers with cell phones to call in
   and pick out colors and the parts to
   build their own shoes. After the shoe
   takes form (in real time) on the sign
   some 20 stories above the square, the
   new design is sent as an SMS photo
   to the creator’s cell phone with details   photo labels, savvy marketers in            trol to create their own environment.
   on how to buy it.                               nearly every sector are empow-            “They want marketing to be more
      The promotion reflects                        ering consumers to design their       participatory and personal,” he
   Nike’s progressive market-                       own products, packaging and,          explains. And customization, he says,
   ing thinking. But, more                          essentially, their own experi-        is one marketing tactic that can make
   than that, it demonstrates                       ences with brands.                    consumers more receptive to a brand.
   that the brand has tapped                            According to Yankelovich             Ask Jones Soda. The brand has
   into, and put a big push                         Partners, a marketing research        catapulted into a $30 million bever-
   behind, what experts are                          firm, it’s a practice that can re-   age company on the simple concept
   calling the customiza-                              engage consumers who have          of customizing soda labels with pho-
   tion economy.                                         been turned off by the glut      tos submitted by its customers.
      From Nike’s per-                                     of aggressive, blanket            The brand took that practice a step
   sonalized shoes to                                      marketing practices that       further in 1999 with its myJones per-
   Dell’s build-to-order                                   dominate today.                sonalized label service that offers the
   computers to Jones                                         “Consumers are              ultimate marketing to one. Customers
   Soda’s personalized                                     changing what they’re          visit to order
                                                           demanding from mar-            custom 12-packs of soda with per-
                                                           keters,” says Yankelovich      sonal photo labels for $34.95
 This Coke Light collector’s
     bottle was dressed in a                               president J. Walker            (Canadian brewer Labatt makes a
shrink sleeve label tailored                               Smith. Whether it’s an         similar personalized label offer with
 for the design sensibilities                             offshoot of the current         24 bottles of Labatt Blue going for
   of Brazil’s Fashion Week                               media fragmentation or          CDN $58.95.)
                   attendees.                             the Internet’s on-demand           According to Jennifer Cue, COO of
                                                         culture, he says, people         Jones, a 2002 patent was secured for
                                                         want to be more in con-          myJones, which works on a digital

   6 BRANDPACKAGING                                                                                                MAY/JUNE 2005
printing program developed with the               Jones Soda created a unique label series
company’s label supplier. “We’ve got                   targeting Michigan State University
it down to a science,” she says. “It’s          students—a desirable demographic for the
not something that significantly adds                          progressive beverage brand.
to our costs.”
    Digital printing is also playing a role
in recent customized offers by retailers      white colors of the school, were
like, who announced a             dressed with photos of Sparty and
personalized CD program for online            sold in and around the MSU campus
customers in late April.                      with a portion of proceeds benefiting
    Consumers go to the company’s             the school’s alumni foundation.
web site and pick songs to be down-               Jones is not alone in customizing
loaded onto a CD from a catalogue of          its packaging for desirable niches.
more than 400,000 choices. From               Coca-Cola Brazil recently introduced
there, they choose from a selection of        limited-edition contour glass bottles
12 cover images and tailor the CD             of Coca-Cola Light for attendees at
sleeve with copy printed on the pack-         the high-profile Fashion Week in
age along with the unique track list.         Sao Paulo.
    According to Amy Colella, manag-              Wrapped in a full-body shrink
er of corporate communications for            sleeve label, by Sleever
the online retailer, the personaliza-         International, the bottles were digi-
tion service is essentially a con-            tally printed and tailored for the
sumer-generated program. She says             event with colorful fashion-forward
it resulted directly from the strong          graphics and targeted copy that read
performance of physical CD sales on           “Official Beverage of Sao Paolo                                  Fashion Week”.
    “We knew there was an opportu-
nity to provide personalization and           Digitize to customize
customization for customers,” she                Printers and other suppliers have
says. “We are still in the early stages,      been preaching the benefits of cus-
but response has been relatively              tomization in recent years, as digital
strong to date.”                              printing technologies have made
    Another brand to announce a similar       headway into the packaging realm.
effort is LEGO, with an August 2005           Whether brands lead the personaliza-
launch pending for       tion process or whether they turn the
Here, kids can build their own digitally      reigns over to consumers, they say,
created models and then name their set        the marketing opportunities present-
and submit personal photos to customize       ed by digitally printed custom pack-
the package.                                  aging are tremendous.
    Customization is also a smart strat-         “It’s one way for big companies to
egy for brands looking to reach small-        keep their finger on the pulse of the
er and smaller (but highly desirable)         consumer,” says Bob Scherer, vice
audiences. Jones Soda has worked              president of CL&D Digital, a fast
with a range of companies—from                package and label printer in
Pixar and Nintendo to Starbucks and           Delafield, Wisc.
the Panera Bread Company—to more                 He says that by closely watching
effectively segment their consumer            the choices customers make in the                 It’s a benefit Scherer saw first-
marketing efforts.                            customization process, or by moni-             hand in his work with
    Most recently, the brand reached          toring their reaction to custom pack-          Backed by Procter & Gamble, the
an agreement with Michigan State              aging in a test marketing phase, a             online health and beauty retailer
University to create a customized             brand can identify developing trends           allows consumers to build their
bottle series featuring Sparty, the           and use that info to market other              own beauty products and cus-
school mascot. Some 30,000 bottles            sides of its business.                         tomize the labels and packaging
of green apple and cream soda fla-               “It’s like holding an ongoing focus         to house them.
vors, which reflect the green and             group,” he says.                                               C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 8

MAY/JUNE 2005                                                                BRANDPACKAGING              7
C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 7          's new customized CD
   Scherer worked with              program lets consumers design their own
to develop and manage a digital                   playlists, select their own cover art and
process that could accommodate                                        write their own copy.
unique products and label sizes; lip-
stick labels for the online retailer are
a half-inch in diameter, while the               Brand owners
conditioner labels are two inches                holding back
across. It was also important to                    And while
develop processes to manage data                 companies like
flow from the web site to the point     have                                                               fully
where labels are cut and laminated               had much success                                                          embrace the
on through to the time when the                  with personalized                                                        potential of
product and package go out the                   offerings (according to                                                 digital custom
door. Scherer even worked with the               Hoover’s, the retailer has                                            packaging.
company when, after four years, it               sold 10 million+ customized                                     Scherer says that,
wanted to bring the digital custom               products since its 1999 launch), Scherer           since digital printing has only
packaging process in house.                      says many brand owners have yet to           recently been introduced into the
                                                                                              packaging realm, sometimes it’s the
                                                                                              perception of risk that holds a
             GETTING CUSTOMERS FOR LIFE:                                                      brand back. In other instances, he
                                                                                              says, it’s a lack of time or a lack of
  FOUR TIPS ON EXPLORING DIGITAL CUSTOM PACKAGING                                             understanding on how to manage
                                                                                              the process that keeps companies
 1. Think long-term sustained growth —           4. Expect to be amazed by your               from taking full advantage. But the
 a change in mindset and workflow.               return-on-investment.                        biggest misconception marketers
 You’re moving from making a million of one      “What we’ve learned about our cus-           have, according to Scherer, is when
 product, to making a million individualized     tomers is unbelievable,” is what surpris-    they only look at the increased
 products and developing a closer relation-      ingly large, well-known companies that       costs (compared to traditional
 ship with each buyer. Along the way you         regularly customize products are saying.     printing technologies) and don’t
 will learn consumer preferences that may        Take custom-blended coffee for “John         consider usage.
 allow you to mass-customize, but this takes     Smith,” for example. The company now            Take a company that paid five cents
 time. Your mindset has to be on long-term       knows his preference on aroma, flavor        for each of 100,000 of conventionally
 growth and gaining customers for life.          and color because he has provided            printed labels. Scherer makes the case
                                                 answers to a series of in-depth ques-        that if a brand only uses half of the
 2. Do your homework before going live.                                                       labels, its actual cost becomes a dime
                                                 tions on its web site. With this feedback,
 Be prepared. To be sure you can handle                                                       each. “And, now,” he says, “they have
                                                 you might learn that not only John—but
 the volume and ship out orders quickly,                                                      a warehouse full of labels to manage.”
                                                 also a good majority of the Southwest—
 do a test run of your data flow process.                                                        With digital printing, he explains,
                                                 prefers his coffee dark, bitter and with a
 Don’t underestimate the level of interest                                                    you get what you need when you
                                                 strong aroma. 1) You’ve gotten closer to
 in your product—it might take off better                                                     need it. And, you get it fast.
                                                 your customer, and 2) you can move to
 than you expect.
                                                 mass customization. And as a consumer        Diverse needs for customization
 3. Printing your packaging: Not much            of a product that was made just for you,        Beyond consumer-created pack-
 different than the conventional process.        why wouldn’t you keep coming back?           aging, customization can also be
 Send a sample test file and furnish color       That’s the ultimate way to build products    valuable for sales samples, for test-
 targets and sample packages or containers       to meet the needs of your customer—          marketing, for packaging proto-
 to your digital printer—and request a proof     and keep them for life.                      types displayed at a trade show;
 just as you would in conventional printing.                                                  and even for packaging that is
                                                 Bob Scherer is vice president and partner
 The only difference? Instead of sending         at CL&D Digital, a fast package and label    printed in small runs and tailored
 over a static file to print thousands of the    printer in Delafield, Wisc. He can be        for different geographic markets.
 same packaging, you’ll need a template          reached at 800.777.1114 or                   The market for customized packag-
                                                            ing geared to bilingual audiences is
 where individual names will be dropped in.
                                                                                              also expected to grow.
                                                                                                               C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 1 0

8 BRANDPACKAGING                                                                          MAY/JUNE 2005
                                                                                                    The Pira survey of end users and
                                                                                                 suppliers revealed that 98 percent

                         COKE CANS GO CUSTOM                                                     of respondents believed the overall
                                                                                                 market for digital printing for pack-
                                                                                                 aging would grow over the next five
   In recent years, Coca-Cola Belgium has been introducing a series of custom                    years. Surely, as the marketing con-
   Coke Light cans featuring the art of some of the country’s most promising artists.            cept of customization matures, digi-
                                              The customized packaging effort supports           tal printing will take greater hold in
                                                Coca-Cola’s “think local, act local” mar-        helping brand owners deliver cus-
                                                 keting strategy and serves as a platform        tom versions of their packages to
                                                 to broaden awareness of the country’s           profitable niches.
                                                 thriving domestic art scene.                       But there will be challenges.
                                                     The most recent incarnation of the pro-     According to Barbara Kahn, director
                                                               motion is a series of seven       of The Wharton School’s undergrad-
                                                                            limited-edition      uate division at the University of
                                                                                                 Pennsylvania, among the biggest
                                                                                                 challenges will be in creating cus-
                                                                                                 tomized packaging that holds value
                                                                               cans, which
                                                                                                 for an individual without driving up
                                                                              featured shrink
                                                                                                 the costs for a brand. The key, says
                                                                            sleeve labels with
                                                                                                 Kahn, is in standardizing what you
                                                                           images created by     can and only customizing what the
                                                                          emerging Belgian       consumer says is valuable.
                                                                         photographers. Last        It’s also a strategy that will help
                                                                        October, the cans        brand owners find a balance where
                                                                       were distributed at       their offer doesn’t overwhelm the
                                                                      large cultural events      consumer with too many choices, she
                                                                   and institutions through-     says. “The goal for the marketer is to
                                                                        out Belgium and          present variety in such a way that it
                                                                             Luxembourg.         creates value, not confusion.” BP
                                                                                 According to
                                                                                                 The author, Pauline Tingas, is the Senior
                                                                            the company, the     Editor of BRANDPACKAGING.
                                                                          customized pack-
                                                                        aging represents a
                                                                     technological innova-       Where to go for more information...
                                                                  tion in the beverage sec-
                                                                tor, with the high-quality       N Personalized soda labels. At
                                                              “Seduction” photo labels           Jones Soda, visit or
                                                            standing as the first to ever be     call 800.656.6050.
                                                         placed on a can.                        N Custom shrink sleeves. At Sleever
                                   Since then, the company has taken the customization           International, contact Marina André at
    These “Seduction” photo cans are the concept public, inviting consumers to submit
    third phase in Coca-Cola Belgium’s        their own photos through the web site              N Marketing research and consulting.
    customized art can promotion, which in a contest that will         At Yankelovich Partners, contact
    seeks to elevate the work of the          award the winner with their very own               J.Walker Smith at 404.808.5057 or
    country's emerging artists.                                                        
                                               personalized photography cans.
                                                                                                 N Fast package and label printing.
                                                                                                 At CL&D Digital contact Bob Scherer at
C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 8                 packaging in different languages and          800.777.1114 or
   According to “The Future of                     different text in greater numbers in
Digital Printing for Packaging,” a pri-            the years to come. The report                 N Primary research on digital printing
                                                                                                 for packaging. At Pira International,
mary research report by Pira                       projects that by 2008, 11 percent of
                                                                                                 contact Stephen Hill at +44 (0) 1372 80205
International (available through                   such packaging will be customized             or, global branding                  and that, by 2012, the figure will
and distribution demands will require              jump to 23 percent.

10 BRANDPACKAGING                                                                             MAY/JUNE 2005

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