The New Packaging Trend That Will Become a Tidal Wave

personalized product labels from Jones Soda

At the recent DSCOOP conference in Dallas I attended a panel with some major consumer brand owners. There were executives from Proctor & Gamble, Frito-Lay, Texas Instruments and BIC. These are all multi-billion dollar consumer product companies that spend a huge amount of time thinking about product labels and packaging.

Michael Ferrari is the global research and development manager for Proctor & Gamble and he made the following statement in response to a question about personalization: “product packaging personalization is a tidal wave that is coming.” He went on to say that all consumer brands need to think about how they can introduce a personalization option into their packaging.

This is an idea whose time has come. All the technology is in place right now to make this happen. There are a number of forward thinking companies who are already making personalization an option for their products. Here is a list of ten companies that are at the start of this tidal wave:

  1. Jones Soda – the granddaddy of personalized product packaging. The MyJones program has been available since 2002 where consumers can upload a photo and order their very own six-pack of soda.
  2. Heineken – this program is only available in Europe right now, but it allows you to choose from over 100 designs for your personalized six-pack of beer. You can add your own text and even add a photo to some designs.
  3. Pringles – you can create a can of Pringles with your choice of background, text, and you can also upload a photo.
  4. Heinz – a very simple program where consumers can customize the text on a Heinz ketchup label.
  5. Kleenex – the My Kleenex Tissue program allows you to add your own photo and text to an oval box 0f Kleenex.
  6. Sharpie – the My Sharpie program allows you to choose your Sharpie colors and customize with two lines of your own text.
  7. Pernod Ricard – this is a different program insofar as you don’t order the actual product online. It is from wine and liquor producer Pernod Ricard, and the way this works is you customize their label with text and then they mail the actual labels to you free of charge. Currently, you can personalize Chivas Regal, Kahlua or The Glenlivet.
  8. M&Ms – here you are not actually customizing the packaging, but rather the actual product itself. You can do two lines of text or a simple photo.
  9. Personal Wine – order just one bottle of wine from a select number of different wineries. You can personalize the wine labels with your own photo or choose from one of the templates.
  10. Baker’s Dog – upload a photo of your favorite pooch and order a bag of dog treats with the photo on the product label.

If you click through all the above links you will notice that some of these web sites are very sophisticated and some are simple. But the fact is you don’t need a large marketing budget to get started offering personalization to your customers. You can start with a simple site that just allows some text personalization and be up and running in a couple of days.

There are several advantages to having a personalization option for your products. You can engage your best customers and have them become even more committed to your brand. Done well, this can lead to a viral marketing campaign that can give your company some great exposure. Also, you can charge a premium for a personalized product – it has a much higher perceived value than a non-personalized product.

The younger generation of today have grown up with personalization. They are the reason this tidal wave is coming. You can give your company a head start by starting a personalization option for your product labels. Of course, here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to print your personalized labels and help you get started.

The Importance of Telling a Story With Your Label

Product label critique by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is at it again. Earlier this month I wrote about his critique of some chocolate packaging, and now he has provided a detailed critique of the new Ahava Mineral Botanic line of soaps and cremes.

Godin recognizes the importance of the packaging to the success of any product. It is even more important when you are launching a new premium product that is several times more expensive than many competitors.

I have always stressed the importance of telling a story with your product labels. Godin points out that whatever you include on your product labels does in fact tell a story about your product and company. Not necessarily an explicit story but a story nonetheless. Continue reading “The Importance of Telling a Story With Your Label” »

WhatTheyThink Video About iLabel

WhatTheyThink is the online leader when it comes to news and information about the printing industry. I have been reading their articles and watching their videos for years. So when they invited me to come by for a video session at the recent DSCOOP conference in Dallas I jumped at the chance.

They asked me to talk about our new iPhone label quoting app called iLabel. Check out the video here.

Shelf Impact!’s Popular One-Day Packaging Design Workshops to be Held in Six US Cities This Year

Registration is open for Shelf Impact!’s third annual series of one-day workshops aimed at packaging designers, brand and marketing professionals, and anyone else who makes packaging design decisions.

The packaging design workshops will be held in six major US cities in 2010:

  • April 28 – Minneapolis
  • May 12 – New York City
  • June 2 – Boston
  • June 30 – Chicago
  • August 25 – Los Angeles
  • September 22 – Philadelphia

Each workshop will include plenty of interactive, hands-on exercises and group discussions facilitated by package design and marketing expert, Jim George, and Jim Chrzan, Associate Publisher of Packaging World. Topics that will be covered include:

  • Design trends
  • Shopping patterns
  • Consumer preferences
  • Packaging tactics
  • Sustainable considerations
  • Managing the creative process

Workshop participants will also have an opportunity to have one of their packaging designs professionally critiqued provided they ship their design six weeks in advance of their workshop.

Vintage Poster Brings Guinness Label to Life

Vintage Guinness poster "Harp Player" (circa 1958)In tribute to St. Patrick’s Day and *National Women’s History Month, I am featuring this vintage Guinness poster. Created in 1958, it is one of the few vintage advertisements to have been created by a female artist for the famous Irish stout. It is also one of the few Guinness posters that shows off the brand’s product label, which is recognizable by beer lovers around the globe.

The advertisements depicts a fair-headed woman rapturously playing the harp on the Guinness label, as if the label was part of a living scene in a musical performance. It is not clear whether the artist was imagining a gigantic bottle of Guinness or a tiny harp player. Assuming that the artist was Irish, though, and a true Guinness lover, I’m placing my bets she was dreaming of a bottle of stout large enough for her to wrap her own arms around. Continue reading “Vintage Poster Brings Guinness Label to Life” »

QR Codes are Coming to Packaging

Is 2010 going to be the year that QR codes break out into the mainstream? It could well be. I am seeing QR codes in more and more places these days.

There have been many articles in industry publications about QR codes lately. Just yesterday, Barb Pellow from Infotrends wrote a fascinating article that suggested maybe 2010 is the year where QR codes start reaching their potential in this country. Last month Packaging News in the UK had a detailed article on their web site that provided some examples of recent uses of QR codes on packaging. They make the point that in Japan it is rare to find a product today that does not have a QR code on the product label or packaging.

In this country we are still yet to see many products utilize this technology on their packaging labels. But I believe it is coming. Within the next 12 months I think you will see several mainstream products add QR codes to their packaging.

Packaging is a logical fit for QR codes. Right now when you pick an item off the supermarket shelf, the only information you have to make a buying decision is based on what is included on the product label. Imagine if you could just whip out your camera phone, take a picture of the QR code and be instantly taken to a web site that contains more information on the product. There you could be presented with recipe ideas, preparation and serving tips, instructional photos and videos, and other product benefits. The ideas are endless.

I believe it is inevitable that we will see QR codes on product labels. There is so much benefit for the consumer and the product manufacturer. But right now there is an opportunity. Most likely, you can still be the first company in your industry niche to do this. You will have the added advantage of creating some buzz around your labels by including a QR code.

Of course, here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to print your QR codes on your product labels. We can help you create it, although it is so easy you can also do it yourself. In a few years we will wonder how we ever lived without QR codes but right now it is just getting started. You can be one of the pioneers.

Related Posts

Google Sends Out 100,000 QR Code Stickers

QR Codes Coming to Wine Labels

Ralph Lauren and QR Barcodes

Google Sends Out 100,000 QR Code Stickers

Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild Annual Conference Coming to Denver Next Month

Registration Open Through April 29

Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild 2010 Annual Conference

We here at Lightning Labels are very excited that the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild’s 13th Annual Conference is being held just a few miles from our headquarters this year in Denver, Colorado! The conference is open to both members and non-members of the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild, Inc. and will take place in the  Inverness Hotel and Conference Center Friday, April 30 through-Sunday, May 2. Registration is open through April 29, 2010.

The conference will include presentations by  well-known industry speakers on a wide variety of topicstwo special events, a vendor exhibition hall, networking opportunities, and the guild’s Annual Awards Dinner. Additionally, guild members will have opportunities to work towards certification in soapmaking (from Basic to Master) at the the conference.

Are you planning to attend the conference? If so, please let us know. You might also want to make a note to stop by the Lightning Labels table in the exhibition hall. We would love to chat with you about what your business is up these days!

Using the Full Color Spectrum


Today, on the popular packaging blog Box Vox, Randy Ludacer featured this unique brand of Japanese spices. It is from the Japanese company Taku Satoh and as you can see it uses the color spectrum for product differentiation. This is a very clever way to give your product range an eye-catching and pleasing look.

The obvious problem is keeping the products in the correct order in the retail store. For something like spices it works well because they will usually have a wide space in the shelf to themselves and they are stored in alphabetical order. Other products might lose the effect when the person stacking the shelves puts them in any order they please.

Where I see potential for this idea is in the private label market. One example could be bath and body products sold in upscale spas. Here there is far more control of product placement and a rainbow design could really add to the ambiance of the store. With today’s digital label printing capabilities you could easily include an alternating Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Indigo-Violet background on your labels. Or you could make this an option for your private label customers. Just a thought.

Does Your Packaging Do its Job?


One of my favorite bloggers, someone who I have been reading for many years, is Seth Godin. I believe he is one of the smartest marketing minds on the planet, so I was very curious to read his blog post last month about packaging.

It was just before Valentine’s Day and he wrote about the packaging of Madecasse, a high-end chocolate from Africa. He took them to task on their plain design and he brought up many good points. He made the case that you should narrow down your target market because you cannot please (or catch the attention of) all the people who may want to buy your product. If you try then you “muddy your brand promise and hide your story” which Godin (and I) believe Madecassa has done.

Madecassa has a high end product with chocolate that sells for north of $6 for a 2.64 oz bar. This is double the price of other high end chocolate, so I would expect them to have some unique packaging. Now, you don’t have to have anything that looks expensive, but something that looks unique is essential. I like Godin’s idea of putting a photo of the African workers on the front. And then telling the worker’s story on the back.

The Power of a Story

I don’t agree with Godin that you put nothing other than the photo of the worker on the front. While that would look different, I think you can get the same impact with a sparse front with a photo and just a few words identifying the brand and the product. But the idea of putting different photos and stories on the packaging is something I have been advocating for many years.

We all love stories, but so few people include a story on their packaging. In this case a story with a photo of a real production person could have great appeal if done well. I would have 50-100 different photos and print them so that no photo and story ever repeat inside a box. So customers would always be seeing new people, and it could become almost like the baseball card analogy Godin mentions. Digital printing technology is in place right now to make this kind of project a reality with not much additional cost.

I am amazed how so few companies use their packaging to tell a story. Some wineries use this technique on their wine labels but most other industries don’t bother with it. Done well a story can be very compelling. A story with a personal photo even more so. Most companies don’t want to step out of the box of what everyone else does in their industry, so they create packaging that is only incrementally different from their competitors.

If your packaging is really doing its job it should be uniquely yours. A quick glance and people should recognize your brand. Then as they interact with your product and read your product label and packaging they should feel some emotional attachment. Then they will feel compelled to drop it in their shopping basket.

Related Posts

How to Build Brand Trust With Product Packaging

Add Some Fun to Your Product Label

Lightning Labels Featured on Cover of packagePRINTING Magazine

Lightning Labels management team pictured (left to right): Justin Babcock, prepress and IT manager; Tammie MacLachlan, customer service manager; James Lowry, general manager; Wendy Murphy, administration manager; and Peter Renton, founder, director of business development.

Lightning Labels management team pictured (left to right): Justin Babcock, prepress and IT manager; Tammie MacLachlan, customer service manager; James Lowry, general manager; Wendy Murphy, administration manager; and Peter Renton, founder, director of business development.

Lightning Labels was recently profiled in packagePRINTING Magazine as one of the top all-digital printing companies in the US.

Lightning Labels General Manager James Lowry said it was very exciting for Lightning Labels to be the cover story for the February 2010 edition of packagePRINTING.

“With Peter’s leadership, Lightning has been on the leading edge of digital printing for many years,” Lowry said, referring to Lightning Labels Founder Peter Renton. “The printing industry is recognizing that our world is changing and that digital is the future. Our commitment is to continue to leverage cutting edge digital printing technology in order to provide our customers with high-quality products and fast, reliable service for many years to come.”

PackagePRINTING Magazine has a monthly circulation of approximately 23,400 readers and is a niche publication written for printers and converters of labels, flexible packaging, and folding cartons. Each month, the magazine focuses on an issue from the perspective of a printer. Past feature articles have covered topics such as profitability, current events that affect the printing industry, and cost reduction strategies. In addition to publishing a monthly feature article, packagePRINTING regularly covers the latest news in sustainability, design innovation, technology, online marketing, and new products that are of interest to the printer and supplier community.