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Why Packaging Should Be the 5th P of Marketing

Almost any book you read or class you take on Marketing references the 4 P's of Marketing: Product Pricing Placement, and Promotion. All of these marketing elements are meant to align your brand to effectively engage with your target audience. I absolutely agree with this but I also believe that there is a critical element that needs to be added to the list: Packaging.

by Zach Williams

The importance of how you package your product is more critical than ever. People are bombarded by messaging almost constantly throughout their day. Often times the only thing they see from your brand is the packaging of your product. If you only have your audience's attention for one second what have you done to elevate above the noise and make an impact?

It could be argued that packaging should be placed in the category of promotion but packaging embodies so much more than just promotion. Packaging can make or break how your brand is positioned. Companies like 5 Gum became instantaneously relevant because their packaging is unlike anything else consumers have ever seen. If your packaging doesn't attract an audience then you're fighting an almost impossible uphill battle.

Here are some reasons why Packaging Design should become the 5th P of Marketing:

Recently I was in a food & wine store and as I was waiting for my wife to finish at the checkout counter I saw a bottle of Sledgehammer Wine. Immediately I was fixated at how awesome their wine bottles looked. I thought to myself that this wine had to taste good because the bottle looked so incredible. They are definitely trying to get the attention of men with their packaging and it definitely worked on me.

How often do you walk down the isle at a grocery store and does a product catch your eye? Packaging that is well done regardless of how long it has been on shelf will get you noticed.

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Apple's packaging design gets a lot of notice but the truth is that it has helped them build one of the world's most successful brands. They want customers to feel a certain way when opening their products. YouTube has thousands of videos that people have uploaded of themselves "unboxing" their apple products. That sounds ridiculous but packaging can do that. It is not only beautiful, but also emotional.

Jonathan Ive, Apple's senior vice president of industrial design, once said “You design a ritual of unpacking to make the product feel special. Packaging can be theater, it can create a story." People want to feel something when they use the products they buy, which means they also want to feel something about the packaging that those products sit in.

Your packaging should always aim to increase the perceived value of your product. Part of the reason why Apple pays so much attention to their packaging is to help justify why their prices are always higher (and I mean always higher) than their competitors.

Advanced Ice Cream Technologies is a Mexican based ice cream company who has an ice cream bar that sells for over $5. These ice cream bars taste incredible but to get someone to actually pay $5 led them to create some of the most incredible ice cream packaging I've ever seen. They are increasing the perceived value of their product and justifying the price by creating packaging that is unlike any other competitors.

We almost exclusively associate packaging design with a physical product but if you sell a service, your website (or other marketing collateral) can be considered packaging as well. If you sell a service what other means of packaging your brand are there except for the people in your company, your customer service, and your website? The same elements that make a physical product's packaging effective translate to how service companies should package themselves as well.

If you have a high end product then you spend a lot of time, effort and resources ensuring that the packaging design equates to the high quality of your product. The same should go for a service-oriented company. Your people, marketing materials, and website need to be as polished as possible. You can talk all day about how you have the best service but if you don't "package" that service well then nobody is going to buy in.

Why else do you believe that Packaging should become the 5th P of Marketing?

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