A cursory observation of made-in-Ghana products will reveal that many companies give little to no attention to the packaging of their products. It is a worrying trend with disastrous consequences. In a global village, competition is intense; a such, packaging of Ghana-made-products must stand toe to toe with that of foreign products quality-wise. It is an open secret that many Ghanaians shy away from some made in Ghana products not necessarily because such products are inferior but at least in part because of poor packaging.
According to Bearden, Ingram and Laforge (2001) a package is “the container or wrapper for a product.” Following a similar train of thought, J. K. Turkson (1994) defines packaging as “a marketing practice, which gives protection and durability to products.” The afore-stated definitions are in sync. One builds on the other; the container or wrapper for a given product gives protection and durability to that product.
A difference maker
Packaging possesses the potential to determine the success or otherwise of a product or service within a given market. It certainly is not the only determinant of business success but it certain plays a pivotal role. A package does much more than hold a product. It has several functions, some of which will be explained below. Worthy of note is the fact that some companies take great care in designing or redesigning the packages for their products.
Packaging is not merely a production concern but also a marketing concern. A good package sometimes gives a company more promotional effect than it could possibly afford with advertising. Customers see the package in stores when they are actually buying. The package may be seen by many more potential customers than the company`s advertising may. A well-designed package, for example, is a powerful point-of-purchase-selling device because it can make a product stand out from its competitors. Is it any wonder some prospective customers are more drawn to foreign products when they are displayed with some locally manufactured goods? A case in point is how some locally produced rice is bagged (packaged) as against the attractive and well-packaged rice from countries such as China and Thailand. Attractive, colourful and artistic packages have promotional values. Because a package carries a brand name, it serves as a constant reminder to the customer of the product`s manufacturers.
A package for a given product may be designed with the specific intent of defining product identity. Packages are often used to invoke prestige, convenience, status, or other positive product attributes in the eyes of the customer. Consider for instance some shirts, ties and watches that come in well designed and colourful cases (or boxes) as against those that come in transparent rubbers (polythenes). I was once given a perfume that was shaped like a wrist watch which came in a beautifully designed metallic case (container). No one had to tell me it was classy. Its packaging exuded class and prestige.
Worth noting at this point is the fact that packaging provides relevant information. A good package provides relevant information about its contents to the customer (and prospective customer). Indeed, in some jurisdictions, it is mandatory that some specific information such as date of manufacturing and expiry date are provided on the package. Many packages also give directions for using the product and information about its contents, nutritional value (where applicable), and potential hazard (s). For certain items, pre-printed prices and inventory codes are placed on packages to assist with inventory control and management. An example of this is the Universal Product Code used in most retail settings, especially in advanced countries.
As a difference maker, a package may be designed with the specific intent of ensuring safe and convenient usage. A package can improve product safety and convenience for the customer. Many products formally packaged in glass, for example, now come in plastic containers. This eliminates potential injuries from breakage. In Ghana for instance, the design of some canned products such as tin tomatoes has been modified in recent times for convenience, safety and easy usage. Hitherto, these tinned (canned) products had to be opened either with a tin cutter or knife. What pertains currently is that some canned products have been designed to have some sort of knob or handle that allow for an easy opening of the cans of such products.
It ought to be also established that a given package may be designed with the intent of protecting its contents. A package must necessarily protect a product during shipping, storage and display. It must also protect the product from breakage and, in the case of food items from spoilage. This perhaps accounts in part for the interior coatings in many tin products. It is common knowledge amongst product planners that a poorly designed package that does not protect the product cost business money, for goods cannot be sold. Also, a damaged (or spoiled) product creates a bad image and leads to reduction in future.
Packaging has thus far been demonstrated to be a difference maker; it could make or break a brand or a business entity. The value of packaging cannot be overemphasized. A company ignores it at its own peril.
Written by Daniel Dela Dunoo (Freelance Writer, Professional Marketer)