Given the myriad challenges of 2020, what serves customers best in the New Year: labels that entertain (and amuse) or ones that inform (and protect)?
Both are needed. Despite economic and emotional challenges, now is the time for product manufacturers to expand their commitments to both of these vital label functions – not pull in their horns to
Consumers want more entertainment and protection-enhancing education. They will reward product manufacturers who provide it, and increasingly eschew those that don’t.
The monetary good news is that there are ways to rev up both without breaking the bank. For example, there are new technologies designed to inform, protect and entertain that can be incorporated cost-effectively through labeling. For example, Augmented Reality (AR) offers a smartphone app that can be pointed at the label to view videos, 2D/3D images, and social media links; and interact with a brand – among other things. It opens the door to customize consumer experiences based on interactions that establish preferences, needs and wants. Along the way, informative content also can provide a protective dimension.
Another technology, track-and-trace, uses a smartphone app to scan a label’s digital ID so users can document a total product chain of custody, from ingredient sourcing and manufacturing through distribution and purchase. It is a highly effective way to prove product authenticity and document product claims (e.g., organic status) to all interested parties.
While these label technologies will continue to grow and flourish, ultimately becoming standard for many products, there are a variety of other time-tested ways product manufacturers can inform and entertain customers, thus improving customer satisfaction along the way. Options include:
1. Offer variable data label printing. One size doesn’t have to fit all. With variable image and data options, product manufacturers can change up their labels. In special order situations, this is done frequently on such items as wine, where the packaging is customized to the recipient and/or sender. This can include both text and images, down to photos of the recipients on the bottle.
Another way to use variable data label printing is to create collections of different label types and offer buyers their choice of design along with the product. Think about a nutraceutical product manufacturer presenting their “feng shui” selection featuring wood, fire, earth, metal and water visuals and themes. Consumers can collect one or more in each category, depending on preferences. This can provide peace of mind – itself a very powerful form of positive customer service.
2. Make yourself an information hub in your industry. Particularly for manufacturers of CBD/cannabis, nutraceuticals and other products popularized because of the pandemic, providing forums for consumers to get reliable, accurate and complete safety and efficacy information is vital. Hand sanitizers, for example, have become the focus of much discussion (and derision) about needed protection levels, ingredient safety and the like. Being able to give consumers connections to trustworthy information can do wonders for customer service ratings.
3. Talk about socially conscious practices, both within your company and trending in one or more industries. Consumers of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds are becoming more motivated to buy from socially conscious companies that do good for the environment, their communities and their people. “People” can include all stakeholders, from customers and employees to partners and suppliers. Everything from ecologically beneficial practices to contributing to a local food bank can be on the table.
4. Promote “market exclusivity,” making customers feel special. Small-batch beverage manufacturing, featuring one-of-a-kind numbering on each container (e.g., number x of xx manufactured), can feel special, exclusive – and personal. Anything that promotes personalization during these troubled times is likely to garner a smile and improved customer loyalty.
5. Make the label a collectible. Getting the rights to print a collection of art or other collectibles can enhance perceived value of any product. Consider combining a socially conscious activity and collectibles in one promotion. For example, sponsor a contest at a local school or daycare center featuring children’s finger paintings, and auction them off. Proceeds benefit a worthwhile cause, and entries are featured on special product collection labels, with a portion of sales revenues donated to raise additional money and awareness.
Product manufacturers embracing labels to both inform and entertain customers likely will see a healthy ROI in 2021.
Mark Lusky is a marketing communications professional who has worked with Lightning Labels, an all-digital custom label printer in Denver, CO, USA, since 2008. Find Lightning Labels on Facebook for special offers and label printing news.