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I recently read one of the best articles on branding that I’ve ever seen — titled, “The Power of Differentiation Marketing: How to Stand Out, Even If You’re Not Particularly Unique,” which explained that even if it you’re selling a me-too product, like bottled water for example, you can still find a basis for product differentiation created around virtually anything:
So, when I went to the grocery store today, I was on high alert for examples of how various vendors were differentiating themselves on non-product-related distinctions … packaging, for example.
In particular, I was fascinated by a tomato company that took packaging to the next level.
If you remember, cherry and grape tomatoes used to come in small green or beige, square cartons, with plastic over top. Protective, and you could see the product inside — or at least the top row of the product, to make sure you weren’t paying for damaged goods. It was okay, but not particularly appealing.
Then these vendors graduated to a 100% clear plastic, rectangular container, so you could see pretty much exactly what you were getting. Evenly sized and shaped, bright orange, little tomatoes. A step in the right direction.
And now … check out the latest in product packaging from NatureSweet®. (Image courtesy of their website.)
Their Cherubs® and Sunbursts™ packaging kind of looks like a party in a box. Elegantly packaged to resemble a multi-tiered cake — which is usually reminiscent of good things: celebrations, birthdays, weddings, and so on. These folks know what they’re doing!
Now, I can’t say definitively that NatureSweet’s Cherubs or Sunbursts taste any better than traditional grape tomatoes, or that their packaging is any more protective, or is even as good as, the typical rectangular packaging we’ve come to know.
At the up-scale price of $6.08/lb. – $3.99 for the Cherubs container, instead of the sale-priced, but already expensive, $2.50 for a competitor’s standard grape tomato in the traditional-shaped container, I’m too thrifty to actually try them out.
Having said that, I will tell you, these packages certainly make their products look appealing.
Furthermore, according to NatureSweet’s downloadable sustainability report, their new product packaging is good for the environment—because they have switched to using #1 PET and rPET plastic, which they say is produced in a more sustainable manner, uses less water and energy, and can be recycled.
So. Looks good and is good for the environment. Can’t beat that.
I will also add that sometimes, good packaging isn’t needed at all. Sometimes all you need is just a great-looking presentation. Look at these luscious-looking fresh veggies I took at a farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago. The “packaging” in this case was just the wood barrels, and their own great-looking vibrant color, and lack of any visible bruises. In fact, look for an upcoming blog on presentation in the next few weeks.
But Back to Packaging …
To give you a second example, I have been racking my brain trying to remember which vendor once came in with the best packaging I ever saw. It was many years ago, and I vaguely remember they had a sample box that had individual compartments—and each compartment held different laminate or paint samples which fit into the slots with perfect precision. I don’t actually recall who the vendor was. But, I do know that even though I’d never worked with that vendor before, it was such a professional-looking presentation case, that I put my trust in them, bought from them and don’t recall being mistaken about my decision.
My point? Packaging sells. Hence, of course, hundreds of agencies, vendors, publications and trade shows, dedicated just to packaging.
To take it a step further, going back to the original concept: lacking anything else to differentiate your product, packaging can be your one unique differentiator, whether in B2B or B2C. And, a simple trip to the supermarket is all it takes to prove my point.
An Aside About NatureSweet
I thought you might be as curious about NatureSweet as I was. So, just as an aside — NatureSweet is a U.S company, headquartered in Austin Texas, with growing centers located across Central Mexico. However, according to their website, www.Naturesweet.com, they’re not just an ordinary tomato company.
“At NatureSweet, we’re not just growing tomatoes. We’re growing futures. We are dedicated to increasing the sustainability of the land and the lives of all those surrounding our product.”
Their website talks extensively about food safety and sustainability, specialized seed stock, non-genetically-engineered plants, well-drawn water, higher wages for their workers such that many now own their own homes… plus, the site offers great-looking recipes. And by the way, NatureSweet and Cherubs are registered trademarks and Sunbursts is a pending trademark of NatureSweet Ltd.
And About Al Shultz Advertising
According to his website www.alshultz.com, Al heads a full-service agency, Al Shultz Advertising, which has been in business since 1983.
Al is a Certified Business Communicator (CBC), with vast experience under his belt, including prior work at agencies like Bozell & Jacobs, and over a decade of teaching Business Marketing Association (BMA) seminars. His client list includes companies large and small. And his differentiator:
“When you sign on with Al Shultz Advertising, you actually get the main guy, Al Shultz… And not just in the beginning for show, but all the time.”
I’ve never used him, but hope to have an opportunity to hire him, one day.
And About Me, Suzy Kedzierski
Lastly, I should add that I am not affiliated with nor receive any compensation from NatureSweet, Al Shultz or his agency, nor any company mentioned in this blog. (However, I have, in the past, been an active member of the NJ BMA, and still often attend their very informative monthly meetings.)
So, who am I, Suzy Kedzierski?
I am a B2B marketing communications specialist, freelance writer and consultant.
I’ve got over 20 years’ experience strategizing, conceiving and implementing B2B programs, most notably for New Brunswick Scientific, where my work, in part, helped sales increase three-fold. My colleagues and vendors will tell you I’m creative, hard-working, tenacious, detail and goal oriented, a problem solver, and all-around nice person… but don’t listen to me — see my recommendations at Linkedin.com/in/suzykedzierski.