Don't sell products. Sell experiences.
Walter Landor once said:
"Products are created in the factory,
but brands are made in the mind"
So what does this mean today? Well, in today's market, having a logo printed on a sexy metallic-foil label is certainly not enough for your product to win. Why? Because it's only using half the opportunity.The best products are finding ways to add more to their packaged goods products (SKUs). Some brands are using their products as keys to unlock related content (online) while others have chosen a less digital approach by donating a portion of their earnings to a positive cause. Either way, both ideas increase a product's value by adding more interaction. Meaning, more experience.
Sure it's great to be a famous spirits brand with a brilliant 100-year old logo printed on sexy gold foil, but I have to tell you—your only seeing half of the opportunity. The freshest idea is creating a digital or personality extension of your product—create added value.
Added value is the other half of the opportunity.
Incorporating a digital extension of your product doesn't have to stop your production process. Remember, every product has a unique SKU/barcode and eventually a unique owner. It creates a unique opportunity. 1 to 1 interaction.
The digital channel allows you to extend your brands personality and can offer a personalized brand experience with every purchase. Take a peek at a small brand, LionHead Beer. They choose to deliver their brands personality through an under-the-cap pictogram (a series of images representing a word or idea). They understand value and more importantly, they are using one key tactic in adding value—interaction. So remember, extending value or product play doesn't mean it has to be digital.
In order to succeed you need to feed the platform. The idea. How you extend the value is up to you. Think about what's right for your brand, your audience, and your story. And remember this...it doesn't always have to come in form of an online coupon that entices people to buy more of your product. It needs to be much more Kracker Jack than that to win today.
My favorite form of added value is entertainment. Does anyone remember the original Vitamin Water's copy? Each of them had their own personality. It came standard with the product and it brought the products attributes to life (whether it was an energy drink, a healthy drink or an exotic flavor). It was entertaining, it differentiated the brand through personality and it made the brand stick.
Packaged goods and mobile may be the next big opportunity.
Here's a little something you probably didn't know. For many, many years now Asia has used a technology called QR codes to extend product experiences and offers. Even Pepsi bottles printed in the UK (after 2008) have their own unique QR code (Barcode that when scanned via a mobile phone, links you to web content). And even I was in a meeting recently with a worldwide soft drink company marketed to teens where the client wanted 50% of their packaged good product to be digital.
New experiences and new technology extensions (like mobile) are great opportunities for gain because they're relatively unexplored territory.
Now in the year 2010 companies like Nike (what a shock) have started to embed the Nike+ technology in shoes, and Adidas has turned their shoes into AR (Augmented reality) experiences. They get it. Heck, even Ashton Kutcher knows how digital can add value to his brand. So when will you?
The new goal is to create a new avenue for people to interact, play with, or experience your brand. When your successful at this it makes the product more memorable and nowadays that means it's more valuable.