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When Coca-Cola originally launched its “Share a Coke” campaign in 2013, the soft drink giant saw a huge boost in its already impressive sales. Who knew popular names like John, Jennifer, and Rob on cans would generate such a mad dash to corner stores!

The initiative delighted consumers around the world, and in fact saw so much success that the company decided to bring it back the following summer. The second time around, Coca-Cola ramped things up, printing 1,000 of the most popular names in America and other countries. That’s four times the original number. Taking the concept a step further, Coke created an e-commerce site to allow customers to order personalized bottles or six-packs online. Also included on the site were specially labeled bottles for events like graduations and Mother’s Day.

The results from the personalization campaign were impressive. Among other accomplishments, Coca-Cola reported that the campaign garnered 998 million impressions on Twitter, plus 235,000 tweets from 111,000 fans using the #ShareaCoke hashtag. Additionally, throughout the course of the summer, more than 150 million personalized bottles were sold.

So as supply chain professionals, what can we learn from Coke’s hit campaign? To start, one clear takeaway is that personalized packaging works. But it’s also clear that the strategy goes beyond printing words and choosing colors. Read on to learn how you can apply personalization to your packaging supplies. 

1. Appeal to the Human Behind the Purchase

The average consumer makes 51% of his/her purchases online -- and that number will only keep rising. As a result, e-shoppers are getting more packages than ever delivered directly to their homes without any human interaction, making the buying process -- for better or for worse -- less personal. So when you make a small effort to show that you’re willing to connect beyond tape and shipping labels, it’s easy to stand out and be remembered. 

E-commerce site 2BigFeet, which sells shoes to customers who might otherwise have trouble finding their larger-than-average sizes, recently launched a customer appreciation campaign where the company’s founder personally wrote thank-you notes to top customers. As an inexpensive addition to packaging (i.e., the cost of cards plus the founder’s time to write about four notes per week), the brand’s strategy boosted its sales potential to new heights, while reminding customers that there are people behind every transaction -- online or not -- and giving them a very positive experience that inspires repeat visits again and again.

Key Takeaway: From the manufacturing industry to hospitality, appealing to the “human” behind the purchase is always a winning strategy. 

2. Think Digitally

It’s no secret that Millennials are shaping the way we strategize and select our packaging supplies. And with good reason -- this age group will make up 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2025. With this forward thinking generation, what’s on the outside of the package matters almost as much as what is on the inside.

LootCrate, a business that provides monthly boxes of geek and gaming related products to its subscribers, goes so far as to ask their customers to share their unboxing on Twitter and Facebook. The company handles and hashtags are conveniently displayed on the shipping box to make the process easier for users.

But they don’t stop there, each month’s packaging design changes and relates to their overall monthly campaign, upping the ante on unboxing videos.

The packaging also includes QR codes that allow subscribers to access special online content. The takeaway? Pairing personalized packaging with digital elements like social media and encouraging sharing is a great way to raise awareness about your innovative brand, especially for the Millennial generation. 

3. Spread a Little Holiday Cheer

Customers buy all year long, but nothing compares to the increase in purchasing during the holiday season. However, grabbing the customer’s attention can be difficult. Packaging personalization presents a great opportunity for B2B and B2C firms alike.

The popular marshmallow treats company, Peeps, takes full advantage of holiday-themed packaging by offering packaging and products appropriate to every occasion directly from their website. Designing custom labels -- such as labels in popular holiday shapes like stars, snowmen, or snowflakes -- is also a simple way to make your products and services holiday-ready.

More and more companies have started to recognize the importance of going the extra mile in customizing their packaging supplies to appeal to a wider demographic of clients. By researching and equipping yourself with the knowledge and products to succeed, anyone looking to spread the word about their services can uncover creative and effective strategies that will keep their brand top of mind.

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About Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.

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