Thursday, November 19, 2009

Screw you consumer!

That's what I see and hear when I look at packaging that says "New look. Same great flavor."

What that says to me is: "I spent hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to improve this product you bought but instead of making it better for you, I made it better for me."

In a few rare instances, packaging is updated because consumers that want to find the product simply cannot amidst the clutter of a typical retail shelf. (BTW, I'm referring to packaging graphics not the structure itself.) But most of the time, the packaging is updated so it practically screams at you from the shelf. Marketers will say things like "we've got to make sure the package has stopping power" or "make the package intrusive."

Well guess what? I don't want to be stopped. And I do not want to be intruded on.

When you play with packaging this way, you've resorted to gimmickry. You're not calling on the rational faculties of a consumer to try and assist in the purchase decision. Instead, you're preying on the irrational, the built in little cognitive and cultural biases we have that, generally, help us make better decisions but often lead us astray.

I have a better idea. Try this new line on your packaging: "Same old look. New improved taste." Make the damn chips taste better. Make the soda taste better. Make your product work better. Instead of trying to trick me with flashiness, convince me with true product benefits.

Oh, and consumers. I have a message for you too. See here's the thing. As one of my favorite people pointed out, these gimmicks work. Marketers do this because notwithstanding their cynicism and lack of respect for the consumer, these tactics do work. You know why? Because you allow yourself to be seduced by shiny objects rather than demanding better products. When you stop letting yourself be taken advantage of, when you start demanding from manufacturers that they truly respect you, then you will start seeing better tasting chips.

Until then, enjoy the new bag.

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