Forty years is a long time for a brand — primarily through print packaging — to sustain a consumer’s attention and loyalty. It hardly seems possible.
Yet, left to his own devices, my husband will do his grocery shopping solely by the color of the packaging and the logos of his youth.
- Orange box, Wheaties.
- Red can, Coca Cola.
- Blue box, Philadephia cream cheese.
- Red and white can, Campbell’s soup.
- Green label, Wishbone salad dressing.
He calls to me from the kitchen: “Where’s the Totino’s pizza? Red box?”
It’s in a plastic bag now, different packageing He can’t see it, although it’s on the freezer shelf right in front of him.
You see, we were kids in the 1970s.
Grocery stores had very little space devoted to fruits and vegetables. We bought meat at the butcher’s shop. The milkman brought the milk and ice cream. Everything else was canned or boxed, and we knew all the products by brand name, packaging, and logo.
And jingles. We knew all the advertising jingles!
In our parallel childhoods, my husband and I sang along with the commercials on TV, “When it says Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label, label, label. You will like it, like it, like it, on your table, table, table….”
We knew the jingles for Oreos (“Do you know exactly how to eat an Oreo? Well, to do it, you unscrew it…very fast!”), Jolly Green Giant (“Ho, ho, ho!”), Oscar Meyer (“Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Wie-e-e-e-e-ner!”), Big Macs (“two all beef patties”), and Jello (“J-E-L-L-Oh!”). We’d sing them at the tops of our lungs while we walked to school.
We can still sing them.
We would beg our parents for cereal brands, drilled into us by Saturday morning television, and identify them on the shelves by the color of the box.
Brown box: Cocoa Puffs!
Red box: Cap’n Crunch!
White box: Life, because Mikey likes it!
Things changed when I got my driver’s license.
My mom gave me $50 a week to do the grocery shopping for the family. Any money leftover was mine to keep. I started shopping at the farmer’s markets to save money. The compulsion to buy TV brands melted away in favor of price, value and quality.
My husband, on the other hand, never had to shop on a budget. He never saw how different packaging of the same product could easily cost twice as much. He just knew he liked it then and he likes it now.
Print’s role in this story is a sustaining one.
Even though today’s grocery stores carry more fresh food than ever before, we rely on print and branding to navigate our way through a shopping trip.
My friends who eschew grocery stores and grow their own food still buy soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and other supplies. Often they choose the luxury brands or those with the most convincing environmental message. They’re still making choices based on brand messaging and print packaging.
As I look at the shopping habits of my children, I see them making choices based on the influence of movie stars, musicians, social media celebrities and their friends. They’re shopping online and having brand discussions on Snapchat.
Print influenced our generation. Will it influence our kids?
Will they will carry brand loyalty forward into adulthood or will it be as transitory as the media they consume?
Will printed packaging of the future still appeal to our basest shopping impulses or will it serve a completely different role?
Will our kids will be able to remember the jingles of their childhood? Nothing from this era stands out. Some of those pharmaceutical ads are kind of catchy, but then, they’re marketing to me, not my kids. I guess advertisers have us pegged. We’re silly, sentimental kids from the 70s who just want to sing along with the TV and eat our Cool Ranch Doritos (blue bag).
Sandy Hubbard is a marketing strategist for printing companies. She builds marketing programs that can be sustained over the long haul, with affordable tools and your own people…and without stress! Find @sandyhubbard on Twitter each Wednesday at 4 PM ET, assisting #PrintChat host Deborah Corn @PrintMediaCentr with a lively online discussion for printers and those who love print.