According to some branding statistics, millennials and Gen Z Americans are less loyal to brands than any previous generation. Ever since COVID, the business world has changed and marketing and branding are also going through an evolution, as customer loyalty statistics suggest. What does this mean to the small business owner?
The message is certainly not to give up – because 46 percent of consumers say they would still pay more for brands they trust. The message is that we must evolve our branding strategies.
One of the newest ways to brand your e-commerce merch is in packaging.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few simple how-to steps so you can start creating brand loyalty beyond just repeating the name.
Step 1: Get to Know Your Audience
The first real step to figuring out branding is determining the kind of Internet users your fans are. Are they more active on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Tiktok? If you don’t quite get the demographic but you know where to find them, then maybe it’s time to reach out.
Create accounts for your business on social media and invite them to follow you. You can even ask what they would like to buy as merchandise or receive as a free gift. You can even survey packaging options.
Doing this is also special because it makes your fans feel like part of the process of developing your brand. Of course, the audience sharing this insider information comes at a price, so think of incentives you can offer in exchange for their feedback.
If the idea of doing this publicly feels wrong, then take the same approach with a newsletter. You can install an app on your website that lets new visitors leave behind an email address for updates, in exchange for a coupon code or free gift.
Step 2: Brainstorm Products Based on the Competition
Next, you want to brainstorm on e-commerce merch to sell and take some inspiration from your direct competition, and even indirect competitors.
We recently published an article on why it pays to research the competition, even when building a website.
While it’s fine to include hoodies and T-shirts, understand that packaging involves more than just including free gifts.
Some companies have found success by including a “tips and tricks” kind of guide, with heavy graphics and short text, illustrating how to use the product. They can include the guide with the packaging or make it match colors with the inner and outer packaging.
You can also provide instructions on how to store the merch or even dispose of it in an eco-friendly way.
Almost every small to mid-size company is now sending “personalized” thank-you notes, which go a long way in establishing a brand connection to each customer.
If these are what companies are doing to keep the customer interested, how can you incorporate that thinking into your own packaging?
Step 3: Think Outside the Box on Gifts
Many modern companies have found success using unorthodox free gifts in the packaging like branded stickers, keychains, notebooks, tote bags, blankets, phone cases, and coffee mugs. Free gifts (especially if they’re not mentioned in the sales copy or just briefly alluded to) can surprise your customers without making them feel like this is another sale.
Samples could include your logo, but they don’t always have to. Some companies have used sweet candies, partner products, original artwork, and other quirky ideas. The reason is, you’re showing a little TLC to the customer and not immediately talking about follow-up sales.
Step 4: Change the Way You Upsell
With packaging it’s easy to push new products you have coming out, or direct attention to other merch on the catalog. But it’s important to present these other items in a manner that’s incentive-friendly and not too matter-of-fact.
For example, some stores now include sheets of discount offers, promo days, exclusive coupons, and the like. The discount offer can be included with the package (even if it’s virtual) and offer an exclusive savings opportunity that’s not available on the regular website.
Many companies have found that providing physical coupons is a tangible reminder, and more memorable than just another email that’s shoved into a spam folder.
Another way to upsell is to include a sample for another product in the packaging, with a returnable survey. This works very well for merch that can be sent in small volumes or packets, like perfumes.
We recently published an article discussing the importance of incentives when keeping your best employees, so just imagine how important it is to reward customers.
Step 5: Design and Mock-up Your Packaging
When you have in mind what you would like to have on the packaging, it’s best to do a mock-up of the design to see how it would look. Adobe Photoshop comes in very handy during these initial trials. You may also hire a graphic designer to help or create the image for you.
Once you’ve finalized your designs, you can work with a POD company to create your products, gifts, or packaging extras. Choosing print-on-demand grants you the freedom to automate everything from production, shipping, and fulfillment with low risk and cost to your brand – and all with no contract.
Always inspect your new packaging products before including them in your order. It’s critical to make sure that they are up to your standards and reflect the professionalism of your brand and your company!
Step 6: Take Them Off/Onsite
As part of your merch-selling packaging, you might try including hyperlinks from a scannable QR code included in the packaging. Then, direct people to an eye-catching and ear-catching Instagram story or Facebook ad for a video presentation.
Many companies are now using music in their video ads either on-site (as a clickable video) or on their social network of choice.
Consider using free stock music in the background of your website. Using stock music in the background of your website can keep visitors to your site active and involved.
By taking them off-site and then back on-site, you’re not just using packaging to mindlessly sell more ads – but using packaging to create a brand experience the user will remember.
Packaging is About the Experience, Not the Name
Remember the packaging process is part of the brand retention plan. Sending users small gifts, virtual gifts, or other incentives is not just a sweet thing to do – but also a psychological trigger that leaves people wanting to return the favor someday.
Brand retention is literally a 4+ billion dollar business, so yeah, it’s complicated, but it’s worth investing in new techniques. Keeping younger demographics’ attention is all about personalizing the message and that’s the real benefit of using effective packaging.