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ZMOT – Packaging Encounters of the Third Kind


In a letter to shareholders in 2002, the then Procter & Gamble CEO, A.G. Lafley used the term FMOT (“Eff Mot” – First Moment of Truth), the moment “when consumers stand in front of store shelf and decide whether to buy a P&G product or a competing product”.zmot

Thanks to Internet, e-commerce & m-commerce, we are witnessing the rise of ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth), the moment when a shopper goes online to research a product and decides whether to make a purchase.

Considering the impact of online sales on brands, do the marketing and packaging teams consider ZMOT, as important as “the advert” and “the retail shelf” respectively?

Marketers and Packaging Designers need to decide on the following:

a) What role does Packaging play in an online shelf vs a retail shelf?

b) Since in e-commerce there is no shelf on which the package physically stands, should the designers rethink the optimum package size?

c) Are the large companies at a disadvantage in handling the e-commerce challenges?

d) Should the Package be different for online & retail shelves?

There are two schools of thought:

a) Online and Retail package design should be identical, otherwise it will result in increasing the number of SKUs and ultimately cost.

b) Packaging should be different for online and retail sales; reasons being

  1. Increase in e-commerce volume might also force a company to reconsider its practice of identical packaging.
  2. The packaging does not need to be as elaborate as in a retail environment. Once it is shipped, the sale has already been accomplished and it is not necessary to further attract the buyer.

CPG Brand Owners (like Mondelez, L’Oreal, Nestle) are taking a leaf out of the smartphone marketing playbook. They are first launching products online before rolling them out in retail stores to create a quick buzz about their brands and reach millennials. Once the order is placed online, Brand Managers & Packaging Designers may decide to use a minimalistic packaging design to fulfil the order. This plays well with the millennials for whom less packaging means, more eco-friendly.

With Consumers wanting to see the brand promise in every aspect of their shopping journey—in-store, online or with customer service—packaging is the marketing tool with the greatest leverage.

The challenge for Brand Owners is to create a uniform experience across channels and at the same time exploiting the best that each channel offers.

Most of the current Packaging Artworks and Labeling strategies are towards brick-and-mortar retail channels. With the increasing challenges posed by e-commerce & m-commerce, it’s high time CPG Brand Owners have an e-commerce Labeling Strategy in place.

Image credits : printmeposter

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