Nepali producers need to pay the due attention to packaging and design in order to take their products and services to the next level.
--BY MAHENDRA SHRESTHA
Discourses on modern marketing, advertising and branding started in Nepal more than two decades ago. Today, the talks are about the metrics for quality of products for producing standard commercial items. The discussions are also related to the inclusion of ISO certifications and the Total Quality Management for making cost-effective and standard quality products. However, there is a lack of discussions or serious thought in terms of making the products look elegant so that the consumers can feel confident and proud to consume or own them. After all, modern-day marketing and branding is all about design and packaging of products and services.
It is evident that Nepalis are very much exposed to international brands in almost all categories of the consumer market since long due to their proliferation in the local market. When it comes to brand choice, the preference of Nepali consumers is dominated by multinational brands in almost every product or service category. Talk about chocolates and the top three choices are Cadbury, Nestle and Lindt. For alcohol it is Johnny Walker, Teacher’s and Absolut and for breakfast cereals Kellogg’s, Quaker and Cheerios are among the top choices.
Similarly, Lux, Camay and Fa are some of the preferred foreign toilet soap brands. The list is very long.
So, how did it happen? First, the international brands have outstanding product quality which has withstood the test of time. Second, it is the excellent packaging design of the products of the brands which matches the perceived product quality to entice the customers.
In this age of globalisation, manufacturers can avail all types of technologies and raw materials to manufacture products. While Nepali industries are already geared to adopt new technologies, they are unable to create brands which consumers are proud to own and use. The problem here is that the producers think enough to come up with good products but ignore to think how to make the items look and feel good to the consumers. They seriously misplace their priorities in relation to the appearance of the products. It needs to be understood that products are only as good as they look. Now it’s high time to incorporate aesthetic values to the products and services. This will not only give good brand appeal but will also guarantee better profit for the producers as consumers are always ready to pay higher prices for good looking products and services.
The reason behind the failure in producing aesthetically rich products lies in the product design. While doing the product planning, the likes and dislikes of consumers hardly find a place in the center stage. Even if they do, producers limit themselves to standard quality product creation considering competition offerings and modifying it with some value additions. The product planners need to, without any doubt, consider competitive products and services. Nevertheless, there are so many other parameters to be considered including the likes of Nepali consumers and their aesthetic preferences.
Doing so will enable producers to make distinctively new offerings in accordance with the taste of the local consumers. Companies spend millions of rupees in advertising and marketing, but hesitate to invest in packaging and designing, the cost of which is less than one percent of the annual advertising expenses.
Advertising will draw the customer to the products. But consumers buy not only the products but also the packaging. They might be satisfied with a product, but no one can be sure if they are really proud of buying or owning it.
In recent years, some efforts have been made by some Nepali brands in enhancing the aesthetics of their products. The tea brand Rakura is a good example in this regard. Similarly,the packaging design of Old Durbar 8848 vodka is another disruption in the domestic alcohol industry.
Advertising agencies are the main stakeholders responsible for making the products look good. However, the agencies have a serious deficiency in design and packaging. They are more attracted towards bigger advertising campaigns and are able to effectively execute such tasks but haven’t been able to build the capacity to make products and services look aesthetically rich.
Besides, there is a lack of studios in Nepal to offer specialised roles in product design. So, after the monumental changes in activities such as Below the Line (BTL) advertising and Brand Activation in recent years, it would be a great opportunity for advertising/marketing agencies to offer such services to their clients. Also, it would be a good opportunity for startup design studios as well.
The comprehension of the products and services among Nepali producers and marketers has been another major challenge. Our knowledge in this regard is just the tip of an iceberg. Most products and services designed or produced here have foreign influences. Therefore, availing the services of foreign consultants and specialists in terms of product design execution can be very important till we develop the competency locally.
Overcoming these challenges is important to improve our product design and packaging processes. We can be hopeful that producers and advertising agencies will focus their efforts on this and there will be companies willing to invest in developing good looking brands so that Nepali brands can be showcased at multiband departmental stores at widths. Finally, we can be optimistic that more Nepali brands will be at the podium of most trusted and good looking brands.
(The author is a specialist in product development and marketing. He can be reached for feedback at [email protected].)