headline press information

Date 30th October 2012 / www.procarton.com
Title Strategic packaging with Packvertising
Text "Packaging needs to act as an advertising spot on the shelf, we therefore speak of Packvertising. 80 per cent of products in supermarkets are not supported by TV, posters or ads in terms of communication. This is where packaging has to provide the relevant and distinguishing rewards", says Dr. Christian Scheier, Managing Director, decode Marketingberatung. Pro Carton interviewed him. For download in print quality, please click on the photo.

How do you view packaging compared to other media?
Packaging is closest to the actual product experience, tends to have the strongest effect on expectations which influence "living" the product. An example from placebo marketing research: a branded pack of aspirin has a positive effect on treating headache, even if the tablet is a placebo and contains no active ingredient.


Packaging is like a TV spot on the shelf – only that you see it more often and immediately prior to using the product. Packaging is also multi-sensoric, depending on the design it can unfold its effects via the senses: vision, audio, tactile and aroma - and that is a major advantage.

If packaging is well integrated into the Above-the-line communications, it can mentally reactivate the message conveyed in the spot and thus reinforce the power of classic advertising media for the product or the corresponding expectations on the product/product experience.


Packaging is not only important in the supermarket, but also in the home. It is not just the Point of Sale that counts, but also the Point of Action in the home. Here, the packaging of many products is fully integrated in the daily routines and rituals. It acts like a TV spot in the bathroom or the refrigerator, and with high contact frequency.


How does packaging work?
Next to placebo research, many other psychological experiments have demonstrated that signals such as the colour of a tablet or Nivea packaging do not have a purely aesthetic function, but have a sustainable element. Packaging is a perceptible and thus relevant context for the brain.


Mental concepts are activated in the autopilot via sensory codes and the actions (real or simulated) and determine behaviour if they match a relevant goal of the customer, in other words, if they represent worthwhile rewards. Signals which may appear unimportant for the actual function of the product may activate relevant and distinguishing concepts in the consumer's autopilot.


Against the background of codes and goals, the commonly raised question, "Which design is better?“ needs to be substituted by the question "Which design is the right one for the intended goal?“ The question as to right or not depends on the goal the customers want to meet with product. Environmental statistics give clear and objective rules whether the signals address the intended goal or not.


How are the signals linked to mental concepts?
Through experience and explicit learning in the autopilot! The brain learns implicitly when products are typically used in our culture, by whom they are used, what we learn in addition as children, what the media report on the topic, what we observe or are told, and much more. The autopilot learns everything which is repeated, he learns the statistics of the environment. We also refer to this "Experience knowledge" as this largely implicit knowledge is based on our daily experiences.


The fundamental learning principle is "What fires together, wires together“. Neurons which are triggered simultaneously repeatedly connect stronger every time. The autopilot in the brain is specialised in detecting underlying patterns among the vast sum of signals received via the senses. This learning process takes place implicitly. Our brain stores when we require warmth, when our parents hold us close, and this results in a connection between closeness and warmth and later on leads us to choose warm soup to balance social coldness.


The rules governing connectivity between the signals and the mental concept are laid down during childhood. During the first few years we implicitly learn the rules of living together - and products are a part of this. Hence, the codes for products are generated early on as products play an important part as well as social role in our togetherness.


How do we decide strategically on packaging design?
We must know and utilise the implicit codes and their rules. We do this anyway in our private life. The intuitive handling of the 10,000 products is based exactly on these rules and the environmental statistics are the key to these codes. They enable the objective and systematic evaluation of signals and product features – from the consistency of a liquid to the protagonist in a TV spot.


Strategic decisions replace taste decisions or majority decisions in consumer surveys. The evaluation becomes clearer when we have the mental concepts activated by the signals or the customer's goal as reference for evaluation, as the environmental statistics provide clear and objective rules whether a packaging conveys the intended message, the strategy, better or not.


How will the importance of packaging increase in the future, in the age of the Internet?
The more we move in the direction of high-tech, the greater the balancing trend of "High-touch" will become, i.e. physically real interfaces to a brand or a product. Packaging will certainly play a major role as "High-touch", and be especially relevant in the age of the Internet.




Christian Scheier, Dirk Bayas-Linke, Johannes Schneider, Codes. Die geheime Sprache der Produkte, Freiburg 2011 (The secret language of products)

Tres Jolie box Celebrations
Winner Volume Market Carton, Pro Carton/ECMA Award 2011: Tres Jolie box Celebrations



Suzanne McEwen +43 676 424 46 37 mcewen@procarton.com
Background Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard to brand owners, the trade as well as designers, the media and politicians as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium.