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Why selling your product should start with selling the experience

Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

Read Shana’s past columns.

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, there’s something unforgettable about being a kid and coming into the living room to find gifts beneath the tree and opening them while still in your pajamas.

Or maybe you have kids now and love creating that experience for them. It can be exciting and highly anticipated, not knowing what is inside each present and wanting to savor the moment.

Great packaging can bring some of that excitement to your customers. Think about it!

When you see a beautifully designed package, don't you feel just a little more excited about what might be inside? Great packaging is one of the best ways to get your e-commerce customers excited about your product.

People use emotion to buy, not logic.

People don’t just buy a product; they buy an experience. They buy what that product is going to do for them.

And for brands that sell their products online, the packaging is a big part of the experience.

People don't just buy a shoe, they buy the experience of wearing that shoe. They’re buying comfort, style, and luxury. So when a shopper sees a beautiful shoe box with perfectly wrapped tissue paper, they get a preview of that experience.

The same goes for wine. When someone buys a bottle of wine, they are not just buying alcohol, but the feeling of excitement that comes with opening the bottle with friends. They are buying memories of laughter and good times. They are investing in an experience that will be cherished long after the last drop has been drunk.

Wine is more than just a beverage; it is a source of enjoyment. When choosing a wine, people are looking for something that will complement their meal, make them feel special, and add to the overall dining experience. Whether it's a casual get-together with close friends or an elegant dinner party, the right wine can make a difference.

And the packaging should reflect this.

People don't purchase based on logic alone. Emotional factors play a much more significant role than we realize. This is why marketing teams need to emphasize branding and packaging design, to recreate the emotion the product will bring to the consumer, the satisfaction of making an eco-friendly purchase that helps the planet, the anticipation of enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.

Understanding how emotional factors play into customer decision-making, and building these emotions into the branding and packaging, wine and food brands can ensure that customers have a positive experience with their products. Since first impressions are everything, this is a crucial step in ensuring customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

Now that online shopping is the norm, brands should look for ways to stand out from the competition and give shoppers a special experience, something more than opening a brown box shipped to them and seeing two bottles of wine and a printed sales sheet written for distributors, not customers.

Tapping into the target audience’s emotions is much more likely to turn that one sale into a feeling, and that "feeling" into a long-term customer and brand advocate.

What’s up with ‘unboxing’ videos?

You may have heard the term “unboxing.” It comes from YouTube videos of regular people recording themselves opening boxes of stuff they bought online. Now, influencers and anyone with a camera and a social platform can create an unboxing video and upload it to their YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

These videos show a person taking a brand-new product, usually something that has just been released, and removing it from its packaging while sharing any first impressions of it.

Here are four reasons why unboxing videos are so popular:

They provide entertainment. People love watching others open up new products and give first impressions. There is something satisfying about seeing the reveal of what’s in the package!

Customers get a chance to see everything that comes with a product. When we're shopping online, we often can't tell exactly what we're getting for our money. With an unboxing video, you can get a close-up look at everything that is included in the purchase.

Learn how to use a new product. Many videos include helpful tips on using the product, which can be beneficial for those considering making a purchase. Luckily, there are plenty of unboxing videos that show you the step-by-step setup and daily use of many items.

And while we like to think that customers know how to open a bottle of wine … I can tell you from hanging out with my mother-in-law that that is not always the case.

Social media influencers have taken to this trend. These videos have allowed even more products to gain exposure to potential customers. The creators being influencers has the added bonus of increasing trust and adding credibility to the products.

Social media pro tip: Work with influencers within your niche and have them create unboxing videos to share the packaging, info on how to open, and ideas for pairings.

Create an experience with your packaging

Since your e-commerce customers cannot be in the tasting room with you, your packaging has to produce what the in-person experience would have provided: make a connection and create an emotional response.

A well-designed package can make your customers feel special, appreciated, and eager to open up your delivery. A strong impression can help you build a long-lasting relationship.

Here are some tips on how to make sure your packaging stands out:

Think about your overall branding. You want to make sure that your brand is clear and visible. Your logo and URL or social media handles should be prominent and easy to read, and your overall aesthetic should be consistent with the rest of your marketing materials.

In Geyserville, Lauren Fairlee, Dutcher Crossing Winery’s Wine Club manager, said she has heard from customers that their Dry Creek Valley wine deliveries stand out among the brown boxes, “just by seeing the Paprika-colored Dutcher Crossing box, customers can’t help but anticipate discovering the wines inside and it puts an instant smile on their face.”

Remember your core values. You want your packaging to reflect your company's tenets. For example, if you are environmentally conscious, you might use recycled materials or minimalistic packaging design.

It’s important to show your value of sustainability instead of just talking about it within your marketing. This will matter to your target audience (and if your audience is younger, definitely look into sustainable packaging because younger buyers care about purchasing from brands they believe share their values).

Make it personal. A handwritten note or another personalized touch can go a long way in making a buyer feel like they are opening up a present rather than just another package.

It could be something as simple as taking the time to wrap their purchase in beautiful paper and adding a hand-written thank-you card.

Or, if you want to go above and beyond, you could include a small gift with each purchase. No matter what you do, the key is to ensure that your customer feels appreciated and valued.

Use high-quality materials. Your packaging should be well-made and look like it was worth the money you paid for it. This applies to every type of wine sold online, but especially to luxury brands.

Customers should feel confident that their purchase is well-protected. You want your packaging to be functional and practical; it should protect your products from damage during shipping, but it should also be easy for customers to open and close. If you are worried about cost, use materials that keep wine safe, but include a branded sticker, packaging tape, and a handwritten note instead of customized boxes.

Consider the unboxing experience. How can you ensure that everything about the moment your customer opens up their package is positive? Everything from the sound of the box being opened to the way the items are arranged inside should contribute to a pleasant experience.

Make sure your e-commerce packaging is eye-catching and easily recognizable. Use brand colors and bold designs to make your delivery stand out from the rest.

Make it social. E-commerce is all about connectivity, so use social media to connect further with your customers. Use your packaging to encourage them to share their experience. You can include social media handles, hashtags, or even special offers (like a discount on the next order if they tag you on social media). Build a community around your brand and utilize your packaging as another marketing branch.

In Novato, Sarah Hoffman, CEO at Maker Wine Company (makerwine.com), a canned wine brand that doesn’t have a tasting room, focused on branding when designing web-based packaging.

“Our mission is to make wine more approachable and inclusive, and as our first touchpoint with new customers, we want our packaging to set the tone. From playful copy like ‘wine, sealed, delivered’ to beautiful, brightly colored boxes and tasting note cards, we want to surprise and delight and enhance that anticipation that everyone has when they get a box of wine in the mail.”

And their boxes can be found on their own social media channels, as well as among customers.

Incorporate your own social media content. Show behind-the-scenes shots of your packaging process, give sneak peeks of new products, and solicit feedback on what consumers would like to see next.

Wine companies were once hesitant to ship wine in branded boxes because of the potential for theft and damage—but the rise of e-commerce has changed that. By keeping these things in mind, you can create e-commerce packaging that will make a strong impression on your customers and build long-lasting relationships with them.

Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

Read Shana’s past columns.

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