At a recent charity golf tournament in Massachusetts the participants that strode through the golden morning sunshine and onto the first tee were greeted with a surprise. There was a table laden with gifts for each of them; a beautifully mysterious black box with the tournament’s sponsor logo – elegantly inlaid in a tone-on-tone treatment – housing a sleek, black and copper water bottle. The receipt of a beautiful tournament memento, however, was not out of the ordinary.
What was novel was the fact that each participant did not simply strip the bottle from its wrappings and cast it aside, but stopped to dwell on the instructions on the back of the box. Faces split into grins, phones came out, and seemingly respectable middle-aged men suddenly broke into cavorting groups of hollering pranksters, arms grappled around each other’s necks.
The writing on the box?
“Show us your foursome’s personality! Take a picture of your group, post it to Facebook with our event hashtag, and await further instruction. Use the picture to show us how unique you are! Look out for us on the locations marked on this box – further surprises will await you there!”
The concept of reciprocity as a principle of persuasion (ie; the giving of a promotional product to build brand loyalty) is long established. Very few marketing concepts can attest to as meaningful a continuous return-on-investment as a promotional piece that lives within someone’s daily routine and gets taken to the gym with them every morning. When a brand is in a position to make an impression with every sunrise, you’d have to call that a win.
But what about grabbing the moment, too? That fleeting, unexpected, thrilling feeling of discovery that comes upon us in a flash when we’re presented with a well-packaged gift, wrapped like a beautiful enigma for us to unravel…
That’s where great packaging can help.
In the case of the tournament above, it’s suddenly been turned from simple promotional giveaway into a full blown multi-channel marketing strategy, leveraging digital and influencer tactics and opening up the potential for the whole thing to go a little viral.
“The unboxing experience has become so meaningful; there are YouTube channels dedicated to it…”
Spark Capital partner Kevin Thau
Speaking of viral; what is it about the whole “unboxing” phenomenon that makes it so compelling? Why do people tune in in droves to YouTube videos where someone is simply opening up packaging and revealing what’s within? To be sure, it’s not because the viewer has no idea of what the product looks like ahead of time – that’s simply not a scenario supported by our hyper-informed digital society. It’s not because the product’s features are uncovered by this process, or that the price-point is finally revealed.
It’s the sharing of a poignant moment, like the opening of a birthday present, or seeing “what’s behind door number 3!” A little discovery, a little mystery, a little adventure – the value adds up quickly.
What about the value to the corporate store? Messaging across packaging can be changed readily to reflect updated company values or incentives. Or even the simple gift shop, who uses the packaging as a kind of catalog to promote other offerings, tours or even third party sponsoring. The point is that packaging allows you to introduce another layer of messaging, to speak to the moment as well as a lifetime, and to extend the reach of the investment in novel and inventive ways.
We all love surprises and discovery, in the same way we love unwrapping birthday or holiday gifts to reveal the mystery reward that lies inside. The crazy truth is that deep down we’re all just children. Don’t believe it? Just give a bunch of men a set of golf clubs, a phone, a simple challenge in the form of a game, and a golden late summer day in which to explore it all.
Go ahead and see what happens…