Marketing With Color

By CRAIG KUNCE

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as product manufacturers began to proliferate, sell outside of their local communities, and compete for the same customers, the role of product packaging became an increasingly important factor in identifying unique brands. While packaging isn’t a new concept, it has been a part of life ever since things of value began to be traded, using packaging to differentiate manufacturers and brands in a mass market is still fairly new to most product retailers.

Henry Ford is quoted as saying his customers could buy a Model T in any color
they wanted, as long as it was black. Then General Motors started selling cars in several different colors and customers bought their cars instead of Ford’s (Heath, 1997). Car manufacturers have learned, as have other product manufacturers, that the right product and packaging color can increase their connection with consumers and increase sales.

Packaging is the last chance a company has to convince the customer to choose its product. According to the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute, two-thirds of all supermarket purchases are unplanned. And while supermarket shoppers may skip entire aisles that they are not interested in, if they are interested in a product category, two out of three times they will chose a brand they didn’t plan to purchase originally. Decisions are made in the aisles of supermarkets and retail stores, and there is little doubt that packaging is an important factor in this decision at the point of sale (Gershman, 1987).

Product packaging doubles as a five-second commercial. Richard Gerstman (1987), of Gerstman+Meyers, a New York design firm, says packaging delivers many messages about your product. “There are messages about the product, the brand, the category, the demographics. There are sales messages, promotional messages, benefit messages, imagery messages. The package is the symbol of your total marketing effort; it’s the only tangible, visual evidence of what you’re trying to sell.”