How has the commoditization of the consumer technology market influenced the package design? This blog explores two different scenarios: packaging as a silent salesman and packaging as an extention of the brand. Initially, here are the reasons we know that commoditization has taken place in the consumer technology market:
- The length of the product cycles has gotten much shorter
- Price erosion has effected margins in many categories (ie: TVs, mobile phones, Ink jet printers)
- House brands now complete with well-known brands such as Sony and LG
- Customers can gather product knowledge at the tap of a finger
- Some categories of products are impulse buys (ie: ear buds, phone cases, chargers)
For brands such as Apple, this doesn’t present an issue. They have a branded store which allows them to charge a premium and control the competition in the retail environment. They sell their brand at other retail outlets as well; but they will often have a branded section within a store (ie: Best Buy).
What does this have to do with package design? A LOT!
Most consumer technology products are sold unassisted. A package design must attract the buyer so they pick it up. Think of a store like WalMart. There is usually no sales assistant in the electronics aisle. A customer must rely on the package to get feature benefits so they can compare with the other products on the shelf. The prices may all be comparable and if the consumer is savvy they can even check other retailers in the area. In this case your package is the silent sales person.
However, even a brand like Apple pays particular attention to their package design. Apple’s packaging has always been clean and elegant. Their advantage is they have a customer who already knows their product capabilities. In this case the package is an extension of the brand experience.
There are some brands and product categories that embrace the commoditization of their product and accept low margins and high volume sales. However, there are other brands that want to offer added value and want to distance themselves from the commoditized products. They will put a substantial amount of money into a package design and the out-of-box experience.
It doesn’t matter which category you are in, package design matters and can add to your bottom line in the long run.
Other relevant articles and resources:
Even When You Buy Online, Packaging is Important
Shopping for Phone Cases is !#$@ Complicated
Research Paper: Commoditization of Consumer Electronics and it’s influence on Packaging
Dan Cooper says
Many brands try to emulate Apple’s arresting design, but fall short.
Patty Jensen says
Hi Dan. I could do an entire blog about how many clients have said they want to “be like Apple” and then don’t follow through because they can’t take the risk.