What if you could answer yes to these questions and increase your packaging’s return on investment? Would you be interested? Read on, my friend. This stuff is mind blowing.
Visual Differentiation Is Not Enough
With so many products fighting for attention on a declining number of store shelves—thanks to Amazon, other e-tailers and warehouse clubs—it’s critical for your product to stand out, and visual differentiation is not enough. Martin Lindstrom's groundbreaking research detailed in his book "Brand Sense" discovered that 83% of all commercial communication appeals only to one sense: our eyes. Lindstrom then explains how the most successful brand managers use strategies to integrate packaging that appeals to all five senses—touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound.
When a product, its packaging and its retail displays appeal to multiple senses, the consumer feels more emotionally connected with it. The connection of consumers to brands through the senses adds five important dimensions:
• Emotional engagement
• Visceral reaction
• Connection between perception and reality
• Creation of a brand platform for product extensions
• Trademark scents
Your secret weapon is to create an emotional connection with your product by appealing to multiple senses with your packaging and displays. Once you attract the consumer, visually and/or by scent, appealing to touch can help seal the purchasing decision in seconds. There are many new and unique ways to add special effects to your printing, packing and displays, allowing you to implement these strategies at a relatively low cost while dramatically increasing your ROI.
The Endowment Effect & Appealing to the Sense of Touch
"Seeing is believing but feeling's the truth." – Thomas Fuller
Once noticed, packaging that invites being picked up because it is unique or pleasant to touch or interesting to hold improves the chances of establishing an emotional connection. Once there’s an emotional connection, the consumer is less likely to return the item to the shelf.
The science behind it has to do with what behavioral psychology experts refer to as the "Endowment Effect," which is triggered by a sense of ownership. Experiments have shown just picking something up can trigger this effect. Then, once an object starts to feel as if it is "owned," it is endowed with a higher value.
The Endowment Effect is also why many smart retailers encourage shoppers to touch their merchandise, and even take it home to try out. Once handled, the object starts to feel like a belonging, making it harder to resist purchasing it or returning it to the shelf.
The Endowment Effect is one reason that Apple retail packaging incorporates the velvety Soft Touch special effect. According to a recent Packaging Digest article, "More than two thirds (70%) of survey respondents are more likely to buy a product if it is covered in soft-touch material," and it generates "247% more positive emotions than plain packaging."
Soft Touch coatings can be applied spot or overall, and are usually more cost-effective than laminates. If you are having trouble differentiating between coatings, use your wrist to feel it instead of your fingers.
You can add a textured special effect to your project using various UV coatings, which can give just about anything you can print on an extraordinary feel. These coatings are available to create gritty and fine tactical effects, but can be customized by qualified printers to recreate any texture you can think of (e.g. duct tape, tire treads, sand). And, as you probably understand by now, when you appeal to multiple senses, you make a bigger impression.
Consumers Love to Interact with Hidden Messaging
Chromic printing, a unique special effect that reveals hidden messaging, has been used on toys, t-shirts and promotional merchandise for years. Remember the “Mood Ring” of the 70s? How about the mountains display on cold cans of Coors Lite? Though it’s a visual effect, the impact of chromic printing occurs upon interaction:
• When warmed by your hand: thermochromic
• When exposed to sunlight: photochromic
• When a flash photo is taken: “SnapShot”
• When water is applied: hydrochromic
Few inks and special effects printing techniques create as much engagement as chromic printing.
Thermochromic Printing Example
ESPN Argentina wanted a brochure cover that would make the 1,500 attendees of its annual subscriber conference stop and take notice. What they got was a publication that, according to the GDS graphic designer, was a “mind-blowing experience.”
Thermochromic printing created a dynamic cover that changed from a solid color when touched, revealing a heat-activated message underneath.
H&H Graphics Thermochromic Coated in Non-Activated Stag H&H Graphs Thermochromic Coated in Activated Stage
Social Media Interaction Example
"SnapShot" is our proprietary special effect that reveals a secret message when someone takes a flash photo. The effect can only be seen in the photo as it changes to reveal faster than the naked eye. SnapShot is especially powerful for getting Millennials engaged with you and your brand on social media.
We recently used SnapShot on a Miller Lite beer poster used for promoting a rodeo in Texas. Bar patrons were encouraged to take a photo with a flash and post it on Instagram using a hashtag to qualify for a free ticket giveaway. This takes your message viral and exposes it to a much larger audience.
The Sweet Smell of Success
When Yankee Candle added scent to its catalog, sales increased 18%. A recent Harvard Business Review article covered how marketers and researchers have been exploring the influence that scent has on the decisions consumers make. Among the case studies cited is one involving Dunkin' Donuts. The company used an atomizer as part of a transit ad campaign in Japan. The ads ran inside municipal buses, and periodically emitted a whiff of fresh coffee into the air. Visits to Dunkin' outlets near the bus stops increased 16% while sales rose 29% during the campaign. The reason this worked: science.
When we encounter a scent with a pleasant association, we reflexively breathe it in. That deep breathing lowers our heart rates and promotes a relaxed feeling. The impact is significant enough that hospitals have begun experimenting with the use of comforting smells to help reduce their patients’ sensation of pain. The aromatherapy people have known this for years. For brand managers, the science of scents offers an opportunity to create a similar association with your products through packaging and displays.
Need help picking a scent? Cinnamon is associated with money, trade and prosperity. Peppermint enhances concentration and memory. Lavender calms and soothes. The important thing is to use a scent that associates well with your brand or product, and is appealing to your target demographic. These may be stock scents (there are over 100 available) or custom scents, which can be easily developed for printing from fragrance oil.
Increasing Shelf Appeal with Visual Special Effects
While visual appeal is no longer enough to guarantee differentiation, it’s still the first impression and of critical importance, especially considering how much brand managers invest in having attractive packaging and displays developed. Adding special effects will enhance the visual by providing additional depth. Here are three visual special effects that can help your product jump off the shelf visually:
Glitter: adds pop, sparkle and elegance to any printed piece and, when using the right base, glitter will never rub off and can be matched to the Pantone colors of your logo – just choose your printer wisely as poorly implemented glitter can appear cheap and gaudy, negating all of its benefits.
Reflective & Metallic: a study conducted by the Clemson University's Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design & Graphics found that reflective packaging attracts attention faster—by roughly 1.5 seconds—than non-reflective and retains that visual contact a bit longer.
Gloss: a glossy finish can bring packaging and display imagery to life, making it more visually appealing and giving it a high-end look – gloss can also draw the consumer’s eye to just where you want it. Gloss is used frequently, but not as effectively, when it’s applied offset or in-line with 4-color process. Screen printed gloss has a much more saturated lay down and a much more impactful result.
Other interesting visual special effects include glow-in-the-dark, pearlescent, metallic (which can simulate foil at a fraction of the cost) scratch-off, prism (a lenticular type of look), chalkboard and dry-erase. New and custom special effects are also created in labs like ours, where we take inks and coatings from around the world and develop new applications customized to our client’s project.
Your Packaging Spend: from Expense to Investment that Drives ROI
To generate an impressive ROI with your retail packaging and displays by increasing consumer engagement and sales, it’s time to starting thinking about your packaging spend as an investment, especially when using special effects. Based on our 40 years of experience, we’ve seen that special effects printing typically increases sales by 15-20% on average.
To drive ROI with special effects, it’s critical that you work with a partner that will identify the right combination of special effects to extend your brand and its appeal to multiple consumer senses, as well as the right way to execute them (e.g. using the right compatible substrates, spot placement and technical knowledge for the application).
If your commercial printing vendor or packaging company doesn’t offer special effects, it’s important to work with a special effects partner that will work in cooperation with your existing suppliers as well as your design team to ensure that you get the most out of your special effects investment.
Let me know if you have any questions when considering the use of special effects, and if I can help in any way.
About the Author
Michelle Leissner is a CPA and graduated with high distinction from the University of Michigan with a BS of Business Administration degree. She began her career with Price Waterhouse working in the Middle Market and Growing Companies division of the Chicago practice then joined the management team of a $60 million manufacturing company, grew it to $100 million and sold it. Leissner went on to become director of finance for a $350 million division of Pactiv, VP of finance for Solo Cup Company and CFO for The Care of Trees, a $50 million tree care company with 23 offices across the US. In March 2008, Leissner and her partners purchased H&H Graphics, LLC. As president and CEO of the company, Leissner has seen H&H Graphics achieve 44% revenue growth, tripled the number of employees and moved to a state-of-the-art special effects screen printing facility.