Personalized Packaging: Elevate Your Product's Customer Experience [2021 Edition]

Sumedha Gurav

Explaining difficult concepts through simple words.
May 14, 2021

Personalized packaging is making headlines. Recently, many brands have taken the custom packaging route to elevate their customer experience. Here's some inspiration to get started!

Personalized packaging created quite a buzz when it came out. At that moment, it might have seemed like a redundant and inefficient marketing technique.

However, the idea around personalized packaging is changing. Numerous brands are now trying to explore the idea of personalized packaging as digital printing and workflow software tools are making it easier to manage such projects.  

Personalized Packaging Inspiration & Learnings

personalized packaging
Photo by Marcell Viragh on Unsplash


Initially, only the big brands explored personalized packaging. It is a no-brainer that personalized packaging will help increase sales. But this packaging trend also has other advantages.

Here are some of the key players in the personalized packaging space and how this form of packaging has helped them.

1. Coca-Cola

personalized packaging idea
Source: BEVNET

Coca-Cola was one of the pioneers in the personalized packaging space which started with the #ShareaCoke campaign. Back in 2011, in Australia, Coca-Cola decided to put names on bottles. This was instantly a hit.

In Australia, the most common 150 names were put on millions of bottles. The brand also adopted this campaign in other countries with their unique twist. For example, in India, instead of a name, the text on the label mentioned a relation. 

The goal of the campaign was to create a more personal relationship with the consumers. People buying coke took to social media to show their names on a Coke bottle, which also served as free marketing. This is similar to how people show off their names on Starbucks cups. 

Why it worked?

The key advantage was the free marketing that Coca-Cola received on social media. Moreover, the campaign had a powerful call to action.

The campaign is also scalable. Coca-Cola later added more names and even song lyrics on their labels that people could share.

2. Frito Lays

personalized packaging - frito lays
Source: Freepik


Back in 2015, Frito Lay started a "LAY's Summer Days" marketing campaign that was quite similar to that of Coca-Cola.

The brand gave consumers a chance to personalize a bag of chips. All they had to do was log into the brand's website and upload a photo showing their favorite summer moment. LAY'S produced ten thousand packs for consumers. 

A more recent marketing campaign introduced a talk-bubble on the pack. This 2018 Snackable Notes campaign was based on a survey by the brand that showed how many mothers worry about their children when they're in school. So, the bags had small speech bubbles where parents could write notes for their children.

Why it worked?

The summer days campaign allowed the brand to create more memorable experiences for the consumer.

The Snackable Notes campaign showed that the brand cared about the interpersonal relationships of the buyer. It also improved the consumer's engagement with the brand on social media. 

3. Oreo

personalized packaging - oreo
Source: Chicago Tribune

Oreo allowed consumers to customize the packaging using their website. Oreo launched the online service back during the 2015 holiday season where people could order cheery cartoon-themed boxes. They could even add their notes and doodles. 

Why it worked?

With personalized packaging, Oreo made holiday gifting easier. It's one of those cases where personalized packaging acts as a convenience feature. Oreo even allowed the user to color the packaging at home, thereby increasing consumer engagement. 

4. Nutella

personalized packaging - nutella
Source: New York Daily News (nydailynews.com)


In Canada, Nutella started a "Make Me Yours" campaign where they let buyers put their name on a Nutella jar. However, the process was a little complicated. One had to buy Nutella jars that had a special sticker on the jar with a PIN code.

Using Nutella's online portal and this PIN code, buyers could order their personalized label. The label came via mail. It did not have the Nutella logo, but instead, it had the first name of the buyer. 

While this helped Nutella to segment its consumers better, the new strategy also backfired. People would often label the jar with "diabetes" or "allergens" and share that on social media. 

Why it worked?

Nutella is one of the cases where giving the consumer an ability to personalize the packaging backfired. Personalization needs careful thought. Brands should consider carefully how much the consumer should be involved in the personalization process. 

5. Chipotle

personalized packaging - chipotle
Source:  if it's hip, it's here

Chipotle introduced their author series featuring student essays on the product packaging. Chipotle called this the "Cultivating Thought" series. Chipotle wanted to connect its consumers to authors that people may not have encountered otherwise. 

Why it worked?

For Chipotle, the idea was to provide something valuable to consumers using the packaging. This is also a way in which brands can make their packaging more memorable. Buyers can even keep the packaging if they wished, and share the essay with others. 

6. Snickers

personalized packaging - snickers
Source: adweek.com

We all know the Snickers commercials where grumpy people return to normal after they've had a Snickers. In this marketing campaign, Snickers replaced their brand name with twenty-one hunger symptoms, such as whiny, sleepy, or grouchy. They used a strategy similar to Coca-Cola. 

Why it worked?

This strategy  improved brand awareness and was also an effective marketing tool. Snickers already had familiar packaging in place for a long time. This new refresh was a great marketing tool, just like Coke. 

7. Heinz

personalized packaging - heinz
Source: We Are Social


The "Get Well" Soup campaign by Heinz allowed people to send an ill family member or a friend a can of soup with their name on it. This type of personalized packaging is also a great way to ensure that the right person got the product. 

Why it worked?

Even though personalization is a marketing tool here, it can also act as a security feature. It also repurposes the product. A can of soup can now be a thoughtful and personal gift.

8. Prose

personalized packaging - prose
Source: hello subscription

Personalization is at the core of Prose's product lineup. Prose provides personalized hair care where every buyer can order a customized product. Their product features simple minimal labels with the buyer's name, the sort of hair they have, and what the shampoo or the conditioner does.

A similar approach is taken by Care/of, a supplement brand. They have personalized products, which makes personalized labeling essential for their business. 

Why it worked?

This sort of personalized packaging is also a great security feature where only the intended user gets to use the product. This type of personalization also helps deliver the right product to the right person and reduce shipping errors. 

Finding the Balance between Personalization and Efficiency

Brands have to consider the scale of a personalized packaging project. It's essential to know how much budget they can allocate and if they have the workforce for handling such a project.

Coca-Cola started with the most popular 150 names in one region before they scaled up their project. For the 150 names, the brand had to make separate labels. All these labels had to comply with the government regulations in the region.

Such a brand activity only makes sense if all the different variants of the product are on the store shelves at the same time. Coca-Cola made bottles with all the 150 names available simultaneously. Snickers made all the 21 variants available on the store shelves at the same time. Therefore, brands must think about the time constraint while managing such a personalized packaging project.

Projects like these require extensive planning and sophisticated workflow management tools.

artwork flow demo

Managing a Personalized Product Labeling Project

Personalized packaging has its share of advantages if done right. It can increase brand awareness, create a deeper connection with the consumer and make the brand more memorable. A key requirement here is a feature-filled label management platform that will help with the following.

Here are three essential requirements for a project of such scale. 

1. Team Collaboration

Creating a label requires different departments to collaborate. While the designers create the artworks, it needs to be approved by the management, marketing, and legal teams. Each stakeholder will verify the accuracy and correctness of the label.

Personalized labeling projects can become quite chaotic since multiple labels are being made. It can be a single designer working on the artwork, or it can be multiple people working on a single template. This requires a proper workflow management system where the project manager can set deadlines and checklists.

An artwork management tool can

2. Reduced Time to Market

Most brand activities, including personalized packaging projects have deadlines. Some also need to be released in a timely manner to meet certain goals. For example, Oreo targeted the holiday season, Frito Lay launched the new packaging during Back to School. Hence, it is crucial to develop the artwork with minimal errors.

Here are a few things that an artwork management tool helps with.

This process of feedback and correction does not require exchanging numerous emails with vague descriptions of what needs to be changed. 

3. Access to Digital Assets

A cloud based artwork management tool also helps with digital asset management.

Takeaway

Marketing campaigns involving personalized packaging and custom labels have been largely successful. But these projects are sophisticated and involve complex workflows with multiple collaborators. One can simplify the process with proper artwork management tools. 

Artwork management tools provide the tools needed to collaborate, approve an artwork quickly and release the product to the market. Tell us your thoughts on managing such projects in the comments below!

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