I’ve been reflecting on so many conversations we had with marketers at the trade show surrounding the packaging industry. Here’s my takeaway:
1. The packaging industry is not sexy.
Robotic arms and custom conveyor belts are attractive to a certain demographic (let’s be honest… engineers), but I’d guess the vast majority of the population neither knows nor cares to know much about what happens in this industry. We get a glimpse of it on the Discovery Channel’s “How it’s Made”and really, that’s enough for most people.
Because the packaging industry lacks the glamour and prestige that surrounds industries like consumer electronics, I think it’s had a hard time attracting creative marketers and storytellers. Based on some of the remarkable people we met during the expo I believe that trend is absolutely changing, but as a result the packing industry is behind the times when it comes to marketing. Digital marketing is largely absent.
2. The packing industry is relational.
We stopped to talk with a salesman at a company that makes machines which apply plastic wraps to palleted objects. Mike asked him what set his company apart from the other 10 exhibitors who provided the same machines. Because we weren’t potential clients (although I can think of a couple times I could have plastic wrapped my co-worker’s desk) I think the salesman was a little more honest with us than usual.
“Really, there’s not much that separates us from anyone else. We all pretty much make the same machines and they’re all pretty much in the same price point.” he said said as he shrugged his shoulders.
So how do any of them stay in business? Relationships.
The packaging industry has deep roots in this economy that date back to the industrial revolution. Business is still done in a very relational way. Sales happen because the salesmen develop great relationships with their clients. Clients keep coming back because of those relationships.
As relationship marketers we LOVE this about the packaging industry. As students of our changing culture we realize the industry needs to adapt in order to remain relational in the most effective ways. Largely this means adopting digital marketing and communication strategies that supplement the traditional face to face strategies.
3. The packaging industry is POISED perfectly for someone to blow it up.
Because the industry is by and large behind on the times there is a vacuum for some brand to step in and start making waves. If one of these brands in the packaging industry recognized the need for a strong digital presence and a stellar digital marketing strategy and dedicated some budget to building the platforms and strategies out, I can see massive potential for them to get several steps ahead of everyone else in the industry.
I’m not talking about a “quick-fix”. What I’m saying is that if a brand could radically reorient their branding and marketing paradigm and embrace the digital world which includes a high value for authentic branding, a targeted and data-driven web presence, and marketing initiatives that are flexible and efficient and live in the digital AND physical world, they could lead a culture shift for the entire industry.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is very exciting.
Resound Creative specializes in crafting digital strategies with a relational bend. It’s really the ideal situation for the packaging industry as well as many other industries (most other industries for that matter!). If your brand needs help in creating digital strategies that deepen relationships then get in touch with us! You are remarkable!