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Friday, July 19, 2024

It’s called a touchpoint for good reason

Online brands that strive to deliver a deeper connection on arrival will only deepen the brand relationship going forward, writes Danielle Pinnington

Danielle Pinnington



Did you know that over 80 percent of visual activity in the purchase process is attributed to processing packaging? In fact, the point of purchase could be the first time your consumers see your packaging. This is why there is so much pressure within marketing teams for timely, scalable, quantifiable design data to support the creative process.

It is, however, more important than ever that we constantly remind ourselves not to overlook the personal, tactile experience an individual has when they touch the real thing for the first time. In the shopper insight work we do with clients we are constantly reminded of this while watching, listening to and learning from customers as they reach for and interact with new products in store. We all know the pack is a fundamental storyteller that must signal what’s important to say about a brand, but the ‘right’ pack will also teach us what to feel about a brand or product.

What about online shopping? How do you consider touch and texture when your medium is pixels not pallets?

In our ever more competitive world it’s critically important to recognise pack design needs to consider more than structure, font, size, symmetry and originality. Humans are highly tactile creatures. We use touch to build our relationships and adjust our perceptions of the world around us. In fact, touch is often a sensory shortcut to decision-making. It allows us to quickly evaluate an item and build that all important connection with it.

Increasingly we see tactile branding as a combination of marketing, psychology and cognitive neuro-science which helps brands put touch at the heart of their strategy. There’s even a term for it: ‘affective ventriloquism’ which simply means that a good tactile pack experience may in fact bias us to over-estimate the quality and desirable values of its contents. For example, cookies may taste crunchier when taken from a rough bowl than a smooth bowl and coffee may taste more intense from an angular cup versus a more rounded shape. This isn’t to say that more top of mind factors such as flavour, price points and pack size aren’t influential, but perhaps a product that feels great has the power to improve all the perceived product features – and makes us feel better about parting with our hard-earned cash too?

What’s more, thinking about packs through a more tactile lens can help break packaging paradigms. Admittedly, Nike is never short on new ideas, but their secondary packaging for Nike Air is so simple yet embraces everything about the shoe’s promise, experience and technology into one eye-catching visual and tactile moment.

But what about online shopping? How do you consider touch and texture when your medium is pixels not pallets? Part of the answer lies in looking at the wider pathway to purchase. Now, we’re not advocates of packaging for packaging’s sake, but there is a very important moment in an online purchase …. that ‘ta-dah’ moment when a product arrives and is opened for the first time. This is the moment of truth when the product is held for the first time for all to marvel at its perfection. Online brands that deliver a deeper connection on arrival through a textural surprise, or unexpected finish or detail, can also deepen the brand relationship going forward.

We would argue that the most successful pack innovation programmes incorporate all the senses, and feature ‘touch’ signals early in the development cycle, whether that be weight, texture, material, or form. There is no replacement for good old fashioned in-hand product experience to help (literally) shape the product’s pack as the king of future touchpoints.

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