Who Says Food Products Can’t Be Experiential?!?
by: Mitch Koulouris
Let’s face it. Most food product packaging is dull. I mean they commonly include all the visual “cues” you’d expect, but for the most part, many simply fall into the category of “more of the same”. The same is true with chocolate. I mean if you went into the gourmet chocolate aisle of your local market and stood back 15 feet, you’d see a sea of brown and gold. Really? Is that all there is?
I created Imagine Chocolate to combine two things that you wouldn’t think go together — chocolate and music. A music-inspired product where every assortment is themed and each flavor is named after and inspired by a song (e.g. — “Comfortably Numb” dark chocolate peanut butter), I was going for an emotional connection with the consumer. To add to the experience, we included “Liner Notes” inside each box with facts and trivia about the artists and songs that inspire our flavors. I wanted an emotional connection with the customer that tied in familiar imagery along with a killer chocolate product that really is what a song would taste like.
But that wasn’t quite enough. We needed to close the loop with the music experience and somehow integrate the actual music into our product. But how? Do we do a “greeting card” style button that plays a song? Too bulky and too expensive. A free download card inside? No immediate gratification there. A mini CD? Too expensive, bulky, and too 1987. How do we do it?
Funny how the simplest solutions have the most impact. I’ve never seen a great implementation of a QR code. Most simply link to an offer or some other pedestrian implementation on a company website. In our case, we used a simple QR code that when scanned with your SmartPhone, links to our YouTube page where you instantly get a video playlist of all the music videos of the songs that inspire our flavors in each box. Simple, elegant, inexpensive, visually stimulating, high tech, and instantly gratifying. And the biggest single feature of our packaging that gets the biggest reaction and has the biggest impact. Funny how the small things get the biggest bang for your buck.
This small enhancement to our packaging has made the biggest impact with consumers and truly closes the loop with fully integrating music (and video) into our music-inspired product. It’s had so much of an impact that hotels such as the Hard Rock have began offering our product as an in-room mini bar item (displacing the mighty Snickers in the process). But others are following suit — Renaissance, Marriott, W Hotels and others all are beginning to use our product as an amenity item and sales calling card because of its uniqueness and innovation.
Can a packaged food product be truly experiential? You bet it can! And just for the heck of it, here’s one of our video playlists for you to enjoy. Now all you need is a box of chocolate. Taste The Music!
Mitch Koulouris is founder and Chief Creative Officer at Imagine Chocolate. He’s a product marketing expert and a music geek. He took his digital music started (Digital Music Group, Inc.) to a NASDAQ IPO in two years in the mid-2000s and has served two different stints on the GRAMMY Board of Governors.