With so much choice, you are in one of two categories in your market – you are either better or different. Being better than your competition is a hard road to follow. It requires better packaging. And the more commoditized your products are, the more packaging you need to augment your perception in the mind of the buyer. If you are a commodity, then you are inevitably in the packaging business. For what else will distinguish you if you are fundamentally the same as everyone else. You are left to present yourself to be perceived as better via your packaging. Your website, your marketing and your branding have to be polished and appealing to create differentiation. This is regardless of the actual substance of your offering.
For the truly different product or service you have another choice. The substance of your offering can stand on its own. There is not a comparison to be made in the mind of the buyer and without options, the clarity of choice becomes easier. However, packaging takes the shape of education, storytelling and proof. This is a much more defensible and winning game in a world of increased commoditization. Your content has to shine and present your products with the uniqueness that comes from the user experience and what you deliver.
The marketing game can be played on multiple levels. There are interesting intersections such as what is happening in the book publishing industry. Like the record companies, what happens when you take away the packaging? The book cover, artwork, paper quality and ink created a visceral experience to attract readers to a title carefully presented on a bookstore shelf.
When the physical medium has been displaced by unlimited distribution of ebooks and data read online or via a Kindle, then the packaging differentiation has all but disappeared. The content is what counts. Is the writing good or not? Is the content helpful? And, what was the true cost of a book if it wasn’t about paper production. The packaging game shifted.
Your game in packaging will depend on your commitment to being better or different. The marketing required to help you sell in either case should not be confused nor misapplied.
Which packaging game are you in? How can you ensure your substance can overcome commoditization forces today?