22 June 2020 Print Companies

Open the box of printed delights

Gareth Ward comments on what packaging can do for marketing; could what an 'unboxing' does for iPhone also work for print?

Apple Computer is responsible for shaping much of the modern world, from desktop computers to smart phones and tablet computers. The latter devices have come to influence one of the features of life under lockdown: the unboxing phenomenon. Apple’s iconic packaging is as much a part of the product as the product itself, creating anticipation and pleasure as the bright white box slides apart to reveal a gleaming phone.

Other brands have tried to emulate this experience, feeding the vast number of short unboxing videos that populate the internet. Some even show the customer’s delight at the unboxing of some printed business cards. The trend is even spilling over from so-called Gen Z individuals to Gen X and Millennials – though not yet to puzzled Baby Boomers.

Why should this brand building delight be confined to consumers? Most printers will deliver brochures, books or magazines in a plain brown corrugated carton or shrinkwrap film. These offer protection but little by way of joy. At best a sheet may be retrieved from the waste to be taped crudely to the outside of the box as identification. It is information, not promotion.

Printers can and should do more. The carton can be branded, if only by a bright label or sticker. Better, a thank you card demonstrating your foiling or varnishing capability on a nice stock, can be laid on top of each carton before it is sealed. For too many, marketing and customer service is what happens before the job gets on press. That was perhaps fine for previous generations, not for Gen Z. That is no longer the case. Customer experience is in the hands of the beholder. Apple Computer has seen to that.

Gareth Ward