Financial Express - 15th May 2012

As consumers move from their homes where they see ads, to the point of sale where they are reaching out for their wallets, they need more and more rational information as against emotive hooks. That’s when the back of the pack becomes crucial

No matter how much you advertise, and how many awards you win, it is the actual sale of a product that ensures growth and brings in profits. At the time when a consumer is buying the product, there is nothing stronger than the packaging itself to clinch the deal. The imagery, or the need identification could have been driven by advertising, but when the consumer is deciding Harpic or Domex, Kelloggs or Baggry's, Medimix or Margo; the packs have to work hard to convert consumers at the retail shelf.

While the Front of Pack (FOP) interests and engages the consumer from 10ft to when the consumer handling the pack at 2 ft (arm’s length), it is the back of pack (BOP) that seals the deal. If the consumer is interested enough to pick the pack up and has turned the pack over to read the BOP, the consumer is yours. If you lose that consumer, then the BOP has failed big time. It has failed to provide information that would have caused conversion. Will I know how to use it? Is it easy? Are the ingredients good? Is this going to provide nutrition? Is it worth the price?

This is an opportunity to tell the brand / product story as the consumer is actively seeking information to rationalise the purchase decision. Too often the BOP says nothing at all. Or it says too much. The copy is too long, the font is too small, and it is an opportunity lost to win the consumer.

The Kellogg’s BOP does a great job telling the oats story. (Except that the BOP says oat flakes on top and cornflakes on bottom. Huh? What did I miss?)

The brand story is neatly placed, the product benefits are highlighted, and everything the brand needs to say is there.

The bowl of oats highlights the serving suggestions and the Iron Shakti mnemonic completes the brand USP.

But why so many verbose and repetitive messages? “All these help in keeping your family healthy” and “So give your family the advantage of Iron Shakti and ready-to-eat oats in a single bowl”. And “Mental performance depends on ade- quate Iron at every stage of life— for all members of your family.” And in case you didn’t get it, “This is because: Iron Deficiency leads to reduced attention span and lack of concentration that affects children’s performance at school and adults performance at work”. The iron story is further bolstered by the Iron Shakti logo and the blurb that says “this is the best source of iron”. This copy, I suspect, was on an internal power point and then cut and paste on the pack!

Further, the one thing that a corn flakes box allows you is pack real estate – that sits in front of the consumer as they are eating their daily bowl. The pack can have engagement devices built in. Puzzles, iron facts, Kelloggs history, possible recipes - they can all be extremely interactive devices that continue the relationship with the consumer long after the pack is bought.

In contrast, you have the Sofit pack. Who, why, what – all neatly detailed and succinct. The visual accentuates the health/ fitness proposition through a simple device of a measure tape that extends from the front of pack. The delicious glass adds to drool appeal and says pick me up. The taste parameters are not overdone (it is soya after all) and the pack real estate is beautifully used. The chocolate and the soya ingredients tell the rest of the story – and the chances are high that the consumers will read everything on the BOP and buy the product.

Genteel? A large bottle (2kg), and the point size is so small, my eyes hurt to read it. The real estate of the large shrink wrap (not just a 4x2 label) bottle is totally wasted and all the relevant information is inside a blue bone-shaped unit. The shape does not borrow from the category or the brand, and only distracts. The BOP has large blank spaces that are dead zones – and could have been used to tell the story better. As a consumer, I would like to know that my sweaters would not shrink and my Kanjivarams will stay pristine. It could communicate to me interestingly through visuals and mnemonics. Does neither, and I will bet anyone who cares to, this brand has lost share.

As consumers move from their homes where they are seeing advertising, to the point of sale where they are reaching out for their wallets, they need more and more rational information as against emotive hooks. In this case, the colour of the product and the texture of the product are shown through a window. The uses and relevant surfaces are visually depicted. Any potential consumer gets all the relevant information and the product is sold.

The back of pack is what wins consumers. The FOPs can engage them; the BOPs are what they are reading. Indeed, for every high engagement category – the consumer wants to know more. If you are a marketer, pay attention to the BOP and you could see a 3-3-5% spike in sales due to that alone.

The writer is president of DY Works. The views expressed here are her own

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