Premiumization and the Perception of Value
As a trend that aims to make brands or products have greater appeal to customers by highlighting either superior quality or exclusivity (or both), premiumization is an opportunity that points, in some cases, strongly and directly toward the printing industry. Premiumization, to some degree, has changed how consumers perceive the products they purchase, or aspire to purchase, and the ways print providers can produce them.
2023 marks the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s classic Dark Side of the Moon album. To mark the anniversary, the band has released a beautifully-designed deluxe box set that includes a remastered version of the songs, gatefold vinyl, 13 compact discs, a hard cover book, and several posters – all yours for $279.99. Or, you can stream it on your device free. Same music, very different experience. The premiumized product, in this case, includes a great deal of quality printing, and provides the buyer a sense of exclusivity – they have something most people don’t (“Us and Them”), and they paid dearly for that exclusivity (“Money”).
Premiumization can also be seen in the final step of online shopping – which is the opening of the product. For some products, such as a brand-new iPhone, we expect an engaging unboxing experience. The phone, for instance, ships cradled in a beautifully designed, carefully crafted box, is if it were a rare jewel. The consumer expects to be “wowed” by the opening ceremony for their new phone. Does the box help the phone work better? No. Does it increase the perceived value of the product as compared to, say, an unprinted cardboard box filled with packing peanuts? Absolutely. Same phone, different perception.
In the commercial printing space, the use of digitally driven embellishment technologies are used to enhance the perceptions of packaged products and direct mail by providing a "luxe" experience. While a sleeve of golf balls, beautifully presented with a digitally-embossed and foiled manufacturer logo, may feel special, and the consumer may pay more for them, they will land in water hazards with the same, unsatisfying splash. Similarly, an invite for an exclusive “donor’s circle” for a charity, that can be both see and feel, may make the act of giving seem exceptionally important. Same message, different presentation.
A while back, a I did an interview with an apparel decoration company that has a strong focus on band merch. One of the paths forward they were considering was to also enter into packaging as a way to provide an enhanced branding experience with t-shirts that are ordered online. Instead of just stuffing the garment in a plastic shipping bag the shirts are instead placed in a printed, branded shipping box. Same product, different experience. In theory, the recipient feels a bit of “wow, this is so cool,” as compared to, “here’s my shirt.”
In truth, the types of premiumization printers can provide really comes down to effective sales, access to technologies like digital die-cutting and embellishment tools that provide impressions of expensiveness and luxury, and great design. The bigger question at hand is, are premiumization efforts effective? Do all the glittery, golden bits bring more real value for the consumer, more revenue for your customer, and greater profitability for you? If not, a premiumized product may be a case of “same person, pricier package.” If it does, however, it may open doors of opportunity for customers who seek to explore value-adds.