In many products, packaging is the most important factor of marketing communication. Packaging is a major component of a marketing strategy. It can sometimes help save a failing business. The right type of package for a new product can help it gain market recognition very quickly and give a product competitive advantage In the case of existing brands, marketers should re-evaluate packages periodically. Especially for consumer convenience products and services, marketers should view packaging as a major strategic tool.
The Package is the vital part of many products and services. It is similar to brand names, since a package can influence a customer’s attitudes and purchase decisions so can the name of a product or service.
For most service sector industry, such as high street banks, branding plays an important role in packaging. An example can be the case of the recent mergers and acquisitions of Lloyds and TSB bank as well as HSBC and Midland bank. Having conjoined they have in a way re-packaged their brand name and consequently the image perceived by the public.
One of the many purposes of packaging that applies in this instance is to make branding and advertising possible. The packaging is a form of identification, which can be repeated in any form of advertising so that pack-recognition is achieved and the interested knows what to look for.
There are four main aspects of packaging that are considered: design, shape, size and utility and after use. However, not all are relevant when talking about banks. When discussing banks the design refers to the logo, the colour, wording and typography. These may seem like trivial characteristics but are somewhat significant when building a brand name. Secondly there is the shape and the size. This usually would refer to the container but as banks do not sell tangible items this could prove difficult. Lastly the utility and after use aspect can be adopted in the sense of after care. How well can the customer use its bank to our advantage?
In addition to in-store displays and packaging, display stands, special baskets and cardboard figures can be used to attract customers’ attention. This type of promotion is known as “point-of- purchase”. According to Banning (1995) “Point-of-purchase can loosely be defined as anything which influences the consumer at the point where the consumer, the product, and the dollars come together”
The advantages of point-of-purchase are, firstly, this kind of promotion adds excitement and colour to the store and brand. Secondly, it offers a unique and recognisable identity for retailer and brand. There are many objectives to decide when planning a point-of-purchase promotion, such as the purposes of the promotion, the target audience, and lastly, the retailer’s requirements, specifications, and restrictions, all of which depends on what is being promoted.
Although the purposes of a point-of-purchase promotion can be introducing new products, or encouraging the sales of existing products, the most important factor is that it is clearly communicated to all customers. In any selling process, marketers must identify their target audiences. Different kinds of customers have different kinds of buying behaviour or attitudes towards any products. Thus the techniques of point-of-purchase adopted must reflect this.
The best way to use a point-of-purchase promotion is to combine with traditional marketing approaches, such as the marketing mix, and branding activities. Point-of-purchase promotion should be used to boost up an existing advertising campaign where it does not work when used as an advertising campaign on its own.
The location of the displays is one of the most important aspects of point-of-purchase promotion. The most effective location is not the same for all products. However, points of purchase advertisings are often displayed in high-visibility locations, such as near the entrance.
Although there are some positive points for this type of promotion, the service sector find it difficult to adopt in fear of resembling a retail corporate image.
The purposes of both packaging and point-of-purchase promotion are to attract more customers. However, it is not as easy as it seems when applying to the banking industry. Consumers tend to choose the bank which their friends or family are currently with. Both the packaging and point-of-purchase promotion usually have little effect on consumers’ decisions as a result. Since they are more interested in how much or what kind of advantage they can get out of the products. Therefore, most high street banks tend to offer free gifts, or lower their interest rates to attract customers.
As a result the concepts of packaging and point-of-purchase are taken and altered to fit the way in which banks see most appropriate. As each bank offers similar services, and consumers have a variety to choose from, the way in which it uses packaging and point-of-purchase can strongly influence the success. All materials produced are done so in respect of fulfilling four functions; awareness, interest, desire and action.
The principals of packaging and point-of-purchase are difficult to apply to the service sector industry. All banks are competing internally although they do not provide tangible goods that can be easily packaged and put on display.
Halifax bank is the first of three to be discussed and evaluated. As a retailer would, Halifax too tailors its material to the level of interaction of a customer. This refers to the various categories of consumer, to name a few; passer by, transactor or the seeker etc.
As banks provide intangible goods, advertising is a prime source of packaging. The brand name is clothed in various mediums to enhance it. Via billboards, posters and television commercials etc Halifax have managed to effectively publicise themselves. The current television commercial running is an animated version of Howard (an employee). He is singing about financial information to the very famous tune of “who let the dogs out”. Such advertising enhances brand recall, which aids the build up of its name.
The traditional white logo is used on the backdrop of leaflets with the slogan “always giving you extra”. It’s not the most catching phrase but is enticing for potential customers in search. The colours Halifax use are bold and attractive immediately grabbing ones attention. The typography to isn’t anything intimidating or at all suggestive in any way. The clear wording suggests that Halifax is a bank for the ordinary. Thus overall Halifax has managed to package it self concisely giving off the right vibe.
The point-of-purchase principals are adopted in a similar manner. Unlike supermarkets, banks can’t place products at eyelevel to persuade the consumer. Thus the way in which its stores are laid out and the staff it occupies substitutes for the display stands. Halifax continues to build on the television commercials shown by placing posters of Howard around the bank as well as on leaflets. By doing this it familiarises the customer, which in turn could influence them.
Halifax like other banks position themselves appropriately at university fresher fairs during the first weeks of induction or at career fairs. This is done in attempt to increase customer levels and consequently spread the brand name.
As far as in store point-of-purchase is concerned, Halifax uses the norms like posters on the windows to persuade the passer by. The posters seen on the window carry minimum information in order not to bombard possible customers. Then there are the existing customers and those that are browsing as well as those who are clear on what they are looking for. To satisfy each category is the aim with the aid of point-of-purchase.
The staff in banks act as a point-of-purchase technique. Their dress and means of communication are vital. In Halifax each individual is dressed formally. As soon as you enter there are people at hand to guide you.
Consequently as far as Halifax is concerned the principals of packaging and point-of-purchase are utilized to the maximum.
The second bank example is HSBC bank. Although as mentioned earlier in Halifax bank, advertising is the main method of packaging for the banking industry, HSBC does not spend much or dwell on this specific issue compared to other high street banks and competitors.
HSBC is one of the well-known and successful banks in the world. The name HSBC is the short form of Hongkong Shanghai Bank Corporation. It used to be called Midland bank, it changed its name to HSBC recently in order to match their head organisation as well as their recent theme. This action attracted a huge number of new customers, especially foreign customers.
The logo of HSBC bank is a red geometrical shape picture. Its overall image can be described as posh, “classy” and an overall trustworthy bank. Its target market is a young professional, which can be discovered by looking at the front covers of its product leaflets, as well as the ordinary publics.
With a slogan “the world’s local bank”, HSBC adopts the idea of “local”, which they understand their customers in high level, as well as knowing what kind of services their customers want and need. In their most recent television commercials, HSBC outlined the concept of societal and cultural differences. Colours or gestures have different meanings in different cultures/ countries. Through this advertisement HSBC are trying to package them self as everybody’s local bank.
Since HSBC is not one of the “low prices” banks in the UK (in respect to their credit products) it attracts new customers by offering free gifts when applying to their credit products, as well as how “safe” it is, to invest money with them.
HSBC sees the meaning of point-of-purchase as the time when a person needs or wants any kind of banking services. HSBC tends to promote its brand in most university fresher fairs, career’s fairs, as well as business fair, in order to attract new potential customers. At such events it is putting its brand name amongst the midst. It is at university fresher fairs that the young targeted individual will decide on his or her bank for university (unless they already have one).
As mentioned earlier, the employees’ dress code and means of communication in high street banks can be vital in respect to point-of-purchase promotion. The employees in all HSBC branches are dressed smart in welcoming colours and with friendly attitudes.
HSBC bank views packaging and point-of-purchase promotion as an important factor to build its own brand despite the fact that HSBC bank is not a “stranger” to the public and its history provides the necessary amount of advertising and promotion of its brand. HSBC bank is currently offering new car and house loan products, the future move of its promotion can be placing point-of-purchase displays in car dealers or estate agencies.
Lastly the example of Barclays bank. It is one of the oldest banks around thus has had a good period in which to build its brand name as oppose to the above two. Its design is that of an eagle in blue and white, exemplifying the image of freedom yet at the same time announcing that it is serious and committed.
In respect of packaging its brand name, Barclays bank attempt to conjure attention through their involvement in helping the environment. They aid environmentalist in return for being noticed. As well as being occupied with the environment, Barclays have turned to football, to once again increase awareness. By turning their hand to a famous sport like football Barclays have stated that they are broad minded and willing to listen.
Barclays have managed to package themselves as a worldwide bank “fluent in finance”. With such a logo they, similar to HSBC, aim to provide a high degree service to the world.
Similar to most banks, the in store environment is formal. Employees are required to dress in uniforms, and approach customers with clarity. Also in store posters reflects the adapted theme of Barclays bank, which aids enhancement of their brand name. Like HSBC bank, Barclays bank tends to go to most university fresher fairs, career fairs, and business fairs.
Most of the packaging and point-of-purchase principles applied to banks are all similar therefore differentiation is a complex issue. As a result, to build their own brand names each bank must craft its own way and attempt to apply the principles as uniquely as possible.
To apply these principals has been a difficult task. Both packaging and point-of-purchase principals are relatively easy when discussing consumer goods products. This is because they are tangible items.
To package and apply point-of-purchase techniques is problematical in respect of services and especially high street banks. This is because the bank provides an essential service in today’s society, a service that is somewhat of a necessity rather then a luxury, in order to secure future. As a result high street banks have to be extra attentive to the way in which it aims to build its brand name.