We are living in a hyper-narcissistic era when the staging of oneself finds its fullest expression in the sharing of one’s private life on social networks. Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and others now allow anyone to become the hero of their own story and to stage every area of their life. In doing so, we are not only immersed in the sharing of personal information but also in the business of representation, where every action and every object is supposed to say who you are…with the underlying desire to set oneself apart, to show personality or anything out of the ordinary that might garner the interest of another.

But this self-affirmation cannot ignore everyone’s fundamental need to feel that they belong to a ‘tribe’. Claim your uniqueness yes, but without leaving the comforting bosom of the group. Brands have understood this phenomenon well, and in opening up to the personalization of their offers, they are able to nourish this sense of uniqueness while uniting a community.

A characteristic trait of luxury brands that have made it a preferred tool for value creation, personalization now affects all fields of consumption. From a car to a box of chocolates, from a pair of sneakers to credit cards, everything is now customizable.

In this context, FMCG companies were able to be bold and “de-massify” their packaging to make it a desirable object, the incarnation of a brand-consumer relationship that is now totally uninhibited.

 

“I made it myself!”

To emerge in their competitive environment and to generate buzz, brands are freeing themselves from constraints and playing with their graphic language to turn their packaging into a genuine must-have. And if the limited editions by artists or famous designers have long been acclaimed by consumers, now in recent years the latter have begun to favor their own creations!

We have indeed entered the era of co-creation, where consumers are invited, by way of contests or dedicated websites, to personalize their packaging, becoming active participants and no longer passive subjects of the communication strategy of their favorite brands. No longer ordinary, the packaging itself thus constitutes a form of purchasing leverage. As an accessory, a decorative object or collector’s item, it embodies new features that make it desirable. The issue of personalisation is, however, not only aesthetic. Indeed, the brand has everything to gain by deploying such collaborative strategies, because it is by pushing one step further towards interaction with consumers that engagement is born.

 

“This brand looks like me is me”

While traditional pillars of Western societies are widely questioned, it is now accepted that brands play a key role in the individual process of identity construction. As the incarnation of a philosophy, of values,of a lifestyle, brands are more than ever at the heart of a power struggle to conquer the absolute loyalty of consumers. The latter are also no longer simple buyers, but genuine representatives and spokespersons of their favorite brands, united to each other by a community of thought and interest.

In this context we therefore naturally witness a true symbolic fusion of the brand and the individual, as evidenced by the overuse of language that has now become common like ‘ARE you more Apple or Samsung?’. Thus, we no longer content ourselves to love a brand because it resembles us. We make it own own, it is part of us and we intend to prove it by wearing proudly its products.

In return, the brands make their fans the stars of their packaging by displaying their names, as on bottles of Cola-Cola, or their mood of the day as on Snickers bars. In both cases, the packaging is not only an affirmative support of self but also a strong creator of social connection.

 

A few years ago, brands spoke loudly in order to be heard and impose their voice. The major function of packaging at that time then was its impact. With the power shift in favor of the consumer, the situation has changed and brands have joined the conversation. In doing so, the role assigned to packaging has evolved and expanded. To embody a new brand territory, strengthen the attachment of consumers or nourish their loyalty … packaging is more than ever an option!

 

Sarah Zannetti, Strategic Planner.