The Power of Storytelling  3/2/2015


We have all been in meetings where the manufacturer is making an impassioned presentation about the attributes of a product, to which the buyer is responding very positively.

“Your customer will prefer our product because it is lower in this and higher in this... We researched trending flavor profiles and created a new line for this year based on this extensive research... Our new packaging is bio degradable… We increased the shelf life, lowered the cost… and launched our new social media campaign!”

The buyer is incredibly impressed with a manufacturer who has done their homework in every way and sets up a follow up appointment right on the spot to show the products to her full team.

The manufacturer makes the same presentation to the team – all of whom are also extremely impressed with all the work the manufacturer has invested in the products. A decision is made right there and then to list the products.

The products arrive on the shelf and surprisingly…they just don’t perform.

What happened?

The manufacturer had worked to ensure that the ingredients and flavors were on trend and that the packaging was eco-friendly. They had increased the shelf life and launched their social media campaign – this should have been a home run!

Unfortunately, the consumer was completely uninformed about any of this, as the one shortcut the manufacturer made was to use their existing graphics for the product label and just changed out the name of the new flavors. There were no call outs on the packaging that created excitement for the customer, except for the tiny recyclable symbol they added on the back of the package. There was no mention of social media.

In short -- there was no story.

This came up at a recent meeting with the bakery team at Giant Carlisle, part of Ahold USA, which was named Progressive Grocer’s 2014 Retailer of the Year. “Customers expect to hear stories at certain retailers,” commented Michael Bready, Business Manager, Daymon Worldwide for Ahold USA Own Brands. “These stories are very important for some products and we need to determine the best way to communicate them to our customers – through signage, packaging or even QR codes.”

It’s the story that often connects the customer to a product – and yes, I know it’s not rocket science – but sometimes we miss the most obvious way to communicate, at the most important level – the shelf!

Who would have thought that a product like Prego could be ‘cool’ -- updating its image with a quirky story about a girl and her hair? And how about Kellogg’s ‘freshened up’ Tony the Tiger, which involves settings with softer lighting and a trendier focus on relationships between parents and kids.

The ‘Big Four’ takeaways

Before going to the shelf, here are four key items to consider when thinking about how your packaging will engage the consumer:

  • What’s the story? The story behind the product is sometimes more important to the consumer than the actual product itself.
  • What attributes sold the product in the original meeting to the buyer, and how can you communicate those to the consumer?
  • Don’t put social media at the bottom of your ‘to do’ list. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are great ways to share the product story.
  • Celebrate all the work you did by sharing it with the consumer – they are ‘hungry’ for it!
  • The story should demonstrate the passion you have in your company and its offerings, and when it is communicated right, consumers will feel it too!

Andrea Leiser

President
RSVP Solutions Group

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