Personalised Packaging

Having names and personal messages applied to jewellery, cufflinks, clothing, handkerchiefs and other traditional gifts is familiar to us, but now even mass-produced, low-cost FMCG brands are allowing customers to personalise the packaging. If you work with clients in this area maybe you should be suggesting on-demand...

Big brands are putting customers in the picture with product personalisation

More and more big brands are offering their customers and fans the opportunity to put a personal spin on their favourite products. It’s an ancient concept and the idea of having names and personal messages applied to jewellery, cufflinks, clothing, handkerchiefs and other traditional gifts is familiar to us.

So, it wasn’t a major surprise when Apple began offering an engraving service that allowed customers to personalise their iPods and iPads. Recently though, major FMCG brands have begun to get in on the personalisation act.

Fans of Heineken can design, personalise and order a 6-pack of bespoke bottles via the Heineken website. It costs €17.99 plus €12 delivery so it’s much pricier than simply heading to the off-license but it’s a funky idea and they make great gifts for any beer lovers in your life.

Iconic Irish brand Barry’s Tea jumped on the band wagon too. A couple of years ago, they launched a slick Facebook promotion that allowed fans of the brand to personlise images of the product with their own name. So you could show your love for their tea by changing the name on the pack to read ‘Alan’s Tea’ instead of ‘Barry’s Tea’ and then share the resulting image with your Facebook friends.

This was an example of virtual product personalisation but they did run up a few real-world samples and sent them to industry influencers in a bid to promote the campaign and I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see this being offered as a real service by Barry’s in the near future. Not much use if your name happens to be Barry though.

Heinz are another big FMCG brand that I have seen tapping into this trend. They are allowing customers to personalise tins of ‘Get Well’ soup and order them for poorly loved ones. This promotion is being run across Facebook too and by all accounts it looks like it’s going well; the brand’s page boasts over 93,000 fans and hundreds of people are talking about it at any one time.

Over the Summer we also had the big Coca-Cola campaign, Share a Coke, that allowed customers to choose cans that featured the first names of friends and family. This was more mass-customisation than real personalisation. It offered the customers the chance to choose from 250 of the most-popular names rather than any name entered but it's tapping into that same customer desire for products them reflect them as individuals.

The most recent example I've seen has been the Famous Grouse campaign that allows you to personalise the label on your bottle of Scotch. Launched just in time for Christmas, there are bound to be a fair few dads receiving personalised bottles of Scotch this year.

This sort of activity offers big brands a way to form meaningful one-to-one connections with their customers. I imagine, for example, that anyone who orders or receives a personalised 6-pack of Heineken, a can of Heinz ‘Get Well’ soup or a box of their very own personally branded Barry’s Tea will end up being a lot more loyal to the brand than the average customer.

These promotions or services also generate a lot of buzz and positive coverage across the interwebs and by word-of-mouth so they are worthwhile in terms of publicity alone. Finally, given that customers are often willing to pay a premium for these items they can even be self-financing or actually generate additional profit.

If you produce any product packaging for clients in FMCG, why not suggest that they incorporate some product personalisation promotions? At the very least, you'll show them you are thinking about their business. You might even land some juicy, higher-margin projects for your digital machines.

If you spot any great product personalisation programmes or if you know of previous ones that I’ve missed, please let us know. We’d love to hear about them and I'm sure we are going to see a lot more of this in 2014.