Information is everywhere, and access to it is getting easier to find. One of the really key questions facing product marketers, is how to use the retail package in the age of what some are calling “radical transparency”.
The package had acted until recently as one of the two forms of media where a consumer could easily find product information. The other form of media was of course, the manufacturer’s advertising.
Now information is everywhere. GoodGuide.com, is a website that draws on 200 or so databases to rate — and rank — consumer products on their environmental, health, and social impacts. They even have a mobil app for the iPhone so you can get immediate access to the information on your shopping trips. SkinDeep ranks personal care products like mascara and hair dye by matching each ingredient to findings of concern in medical databases. ClimateCounts.org scores the world’s largest companies on their climate impact to spur corporate climate responsibility and conscious consumption.
The question of the role of a product package in the age of radical transparency is really no different than the questions facing the publishers of the New York Times, or Time magazine, or CBS News, or the major music labels. What information do we communicate, how do we communicate it, and what is the impact on our brand’s long-term viability?
My view is that the radical transparency movement will only reenforce the traditional, and frankly very simple, role of the package as merely the most important vehicle for communicating the long term essence of brand identity. Nothing more and nothing less. And that’s a lot.
If brands are fundamentally about building value over time, nothing will do this better or more compellingly than the product package.
Goleman, Daniel. May 7,2009. Winning in the Age of Radical Transparency. Harvard Business Review