Engineering Emotions

I Would Have Been a Better Brand Marketer If I’d Known This One Thing Sooner

Adnan Kahn
 | Global Director of the Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages Category, O-I Glass

Before I came to O-I to lead the global Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages Categories in 2019, I spent more than 20 years managing multibillion-dollar global brands across three continents. I have always considered myself an avid brand marketer – a brand marketer who also loves what glass can do for a brand. If I knew then what I know now after three years in glass packaging, I would have made packaging work harder for me and the brands I was entrusted to build. Today, I’m here with advice that might seem radical, but I’m convinced it can enable your brand to shine even more.

Iconic brands have iconic packaging. Truly iconic brands are described as “recognizable,” “ownable,” and “differentiated.” All that leads to creating brand equity. How do brands do that? Iconic brands leverage each and every aspect of their self-being – from their brand name and logo to the packaging label, packaging containers, product formulation, and beyond. When all of these aspects are infused from the ground up while building a brand proposition, it creates magic. The sum of all parts is larger than individual components.

Are you adding to the sea of sameness? (File)

In this process, nothing is more critical than the role of the packaging container – yet many brand marketers don’t take this aspect seriously early on in the brand strategy development process. Let’s be honest. We all know how the process works. We focus on sexy things, like advertising and labels and at the end ask our procurement partners to find the right packaging container. But in my time on the other side, at O-I, I’ve watched consumer research unfold across multiple food and non-alcoholic beverage categories that challenged what I thought I knew with two decades as a brand marketer. Brands who understand the role of packaging and incorporate it in their overall brand strategy from the beginning generate more consumer stickiness and win brand loyalty.

What’s the magic behind glass packaging? Glass packaging creates a premium, timeless, multi-sensory experience. The way a consumer holds a glass bottle or jar is much more intimate and emotional than holding any other packaging container. Think about it… have you ever seen a bottle of perfume or spirits in anything but a glass bottle? Glass packaging also makes a brand what it is, creating iconic brands like Coca-Cola, Perrier and Heinz.

If you aren’t considering glass packaging, you are underselling your brand’s potential. Take a walk down the yogurt aisle at the grocery store. In a sea of sameness, Oui yogurt in the glass container immediately stands out. The same goes for the sparkling water shelves. Amidst all the boxes full of cans, Topo Chico boldly commands its shelf space. And the fact is, consumers are paying more for these glass options. Topo Chico has a price index of 176 versus sparkling water category pricing and Oui yogurt has a price index of 186 versus the total yogurt category pricing, based on AC Nielsen shelf track data. The icing on the cake is that both these brands have the highest velocities (sales per point of distribution) in their respective categories.

You could be leaving more money on the table by not harnessing the strength of packaging in the earlier part of the process, but there are keys to unlocking this potential. Don’t just focus on the sexy stuff. Test and learn. That’s what we’ve done here at O-I and you might be surprised, based on all the work we’ve done in glass packaging enabling glass to harness the maximum potential for multiple brands.

That’s the key to unlocking the potential: testing and learning. You don’t need to launch your products in glass at a global or even national level. But by doing a brand line extension into glass in certain geographies, you can test it out and see the difference for yourself.

O-I makes it even easier for you to test and learn with the right bottles and the right co-packers. We have syndicated data by market that can help you identify the right geography based on BDI/MDI (Brand development Index & Market Development Index). And you don’t even need proprietary bottles. O-I’s stock bottles from the Catalyst Collection have been conceived and developed through multi-city qualitative and quantitative consumer research across multiple categories and we have partner co-packers willing to run those bottles for you.

You can build packaging into your overall brand strategy from the beginning, and 20 years down the line, you won’t look back and wish you had.

Adnan Kahn
Adnan Khan
Global Director of the Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages Category, O-I Glass
Adnan Khan loves the science and strategy of brand marketing and spent 20 years helping recognizable, global brands reach their consumer audience. He’s currently the Global Director of the Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages Category at O-I Glass.
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