Making Social Media Work for Packaging Design

Making Social Media Work for Packaging Design

America’s best-selling whole bean brew Eight O’Clock Coffee made waves in 2009 & 2010 with their crowdsourced “choose our new packaging” campaign.

Earlier this year we tallied up 5 important trends for packaging in 2010: one was the growing influence of social media on package design.Most notable is its growing impact on crowdsourcing as a way to decide which path to take in rebranding an old product or launching something new.

Asking consumers to “vote for their favorite”  or “tell us your idea” isn’t a new meme in itself.  Crowdsourced package design dates back long before the advent of computers – the Gerber Baby, one of packaging’s all-time biggest icons, started out in 1928 as a half-finished sketch submitted as part of a contest.

What makes it more relevant than ever are the social media channels that can be used to help enhance the contest and bring it to more people than traditional means.  “Spreading the word” through these outlets also adds a level of social proof (‘peer pressure’ if you will) that encourages more people to participate, and, most importantly, become engaged, brand-aware customers.

While there are a number of success stories floating about, two in particular exemplify the potential of the trend as a whole:

  • In the case of Eight O’Clock Coffee, it’s effective use of crowdsourcing & social media to rebrand and boost their cornerstone product.
  • In the case of Mountain Dew, it’s taking advantage of the same channels to design a new product entirely…

Rebranding Success: Eight O’Clock Coffee

Speaking of iconic packaging, one of America’s oldest coffee brands announced a full-line package redesign this September.  How did they get there?  By running a contest to vote for the new design, of course!

On top of this, in March they sponsored a Facebook-driven contest encouraging fans to vote for their favorite flavor.  As of the time of this post, the site’s homepage boasts a new contest offering a chance to win free coffee.

The 150-year-old pantry staple continues to engage its customers and encourage their loyalty through Facebook, Twitter, and who knows what next.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Designing Anew: The “Dewmocracy”

It’s not the fact that we have a new Mountain Dew flavor that matters.  It’s all about how we got there.

Mountain Dew White Out represents the culmination of 3 years of seriously user-driven product development.  Mountain Dew added the new flavor to their line after the submissions, opining, testing, and voting of the consumers themselves.  From the flavor selection to the label design, this one is rightfully touted as “by the people. for the people.”

Headquartering the campaign at & keeping the mission consistent through various social media channels – In the end the ‘Dewmocracy’  experiment was a major success in many ways.

Of all the packaging trends we witnessed this year, the social media effect has to have been the most interesting to watch unfold.  Crowdsourcing as a part of that meme is pretty neat.  It’s certainly not a new idea, and it definitely isn’t the best choice for everyone — but used the right way for the right product, it can be an absolute success.

And as long as we keep inventing new channels to connect brands to consumers, it’s a trend that’s not going anywhere.