Packaging has power - enormous power - over what we buy. The fashions we wear express who we are. Packaging does that for products. We identify with a product because it does for us what we wish it to do. As any brand manager will tell, we buy the “brand promise” and the package carries a lot of that promise.

You are dying to break your shampoo routine, or for some reason cannot find your usual brand, how do you select an alternative? You generally pick a package that appeals to you or draws your attention. And often you do that out of necessity - you don’t have the chance to taste or try most products. The package has to do the selling right there on the spot.

Or next time you visit a country or continent for more than just a quick trend scan, go to a grocery store or a drug store. How do you choose a shampoo, a cereal, a tub of butter, when all of them look unfamiliar and boringly similar?

Ask retail anthropologist Paco Underhill (author of Why We Buy and Call of the Mall) and he’ll likely produce studies and surveys on shelf impact, shopping behaviour and consumer psychology, all showing that it does matter what the box looks like, even when we say it doesn’t.

Brand managers will get excited about the consumer/brand relationships, the brand story, the loyalty built over the years, and about brands act as symbols of trust and proof of quality. They are right, of course, and yes, our daily behaviour proves that, too.

But that’s not really what interests us. Luckily for us, it is often the quirky, the “un-brand”, the under-researched packaging that really startles and stands out.

Some of them may even be, or become, huge international successes, but that is not what impresses us either.

We are looking for the genuinely original. Packaging design that makes you take notice, gasp, think, smile, talk, buy.

By Tuija Seipell www.thecoolhunter.net

The Cool Hunter has become the reference point of choice for the latest in what’s hot tomorrow. The Cool Hunter magazine is launching mid 2007, as well as a TV show and a series of Cool Hunter books.


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