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May 27, 2003
How To

How Aveda Keeps Online and Offline Brand Images Consistent: Top 7 Tips for Packaged Goods Marketers

SUMMARY: Every time your packaging changes, you need to budget for extra photography time to get pics for Web and email promotions. It is one of those little things that is easy to forget when you are focused on brick and mortar sales.
Here are some more useful packaging and promotion tips from Aveda's marketer.
With the number of people browsing and shopping online increasing, CPGs have to make sure packaging remains consistent across all media.

“When packaging is designed,” says Valerie Snitz, Manager of Aveda Online, Aveda Corporation, “it is important to think about how it will look on the Web.”

It’s more difficult than you might think.

Getting this right depends on close collaboration between marketing, agencies, and creative departments — never an easy task. “Web is not top of mind with marketers right now,” Snitz notes.

Here are Snitz's top seven tips on what companies need to know to make a smooth transition from retail shelf to virtual promo.

Tip #1: Make sure your packaging is recognizable in all media

If a consumer sees your product online, or in an email, and you entice them to get out of their comfy chair and go to the store to buy it, you want them to say, “Oh yeah, that’s what I saw online.”

On the other hand, if the consumer sees your product in the store and goes online, the product they are looking for better look its best and look the same way it does on the shelf.

Aveda allows customers to search for products on its site in two ways. They can look at all the products by domain, thus identifying a picture. Or they can look up the product by name and then find the picture.

Note: Going from the three-dimensional product on the shelf to the flat image on a computer screen also offers challenges.

“Make sure the product size and the lighting is consistent,” Snitz says. “On the Web, some companies shadow products to make them look more three dimensional, others feel the time and money it takes, when compared with the end result, is not worth it.”

For other products that rely on touch and a sense of the product as a whole, such as clothing, marketers include moving, 360 degree photos.

Tip #2: Constantly promote your site goals internally

Snitz says that executives support the idea of consistency across channels; the difficulty is in reminding others in the loop that it has to be done. She has biannual meetings with each of the domain/brand heads. “We go through the site together to make sure it’s up-to-date and reflects the products and the brand,” Snitz says.

The Aveda site is updated daily. Ingredient and packaging info changes are made often. Once a year, some product prices change. “Everyone involved needs to take the initiative and keep the Web involved in planning well in advance of a product launch,” Snitz says.

Tip #3: Budget for (and expect) constant Web updates

The tough part is that packaging changes so often that updating the Web can be costly, and getting budget allocations is hard. “You need to budget to take extra photographs for the Web,” Snitz says. You need to schedule more time at shoots, too, because the photos need to be taken against white backgrounds to keep a consistent look for display purposes on our site.

Get this done the first time because going back for extra photos costs too much. “Taking photos for the Web should be on the internal creative team or agency’s checklist so that you’re sure it’s taken care of,” Snitz says.

Also, do not forget to keep your prices online up-to-date with the actual products on the shelf. “If we aren’t offering exactly what’s in the store at the same price there’s a horrible disconnect.”

Tip #4: Include standard product copy, plus much more

“On a package, you usually don’t have the space to tell a full story or to give all the usage instructions for which the marketers may have planned,” Snitz says. On the Web, Aveda takes time to describe, for example, that certain ingredients are harvested by indigenous people from different areas of the globe, stylists’ tips, or other positive product aspects.

Aveda is also able to include pictures of product ingredients, such as lavender and lemongrass, on the site—something that can not be done on the package.

Tip #5: Product image size matters

Different studies track eyeball movement across a Web page, but Snitz says she does not take that into consideration as a science for the Aveda site. What she relies on is the understanding of consumers’ needs. Consumers are drawn to the product picture more often than the copy. “The design group has made recommendations for image sizes on any given page based on the goals of that particular page,” Snitz says.

Tip #6: Keep cross-selling in all media

At most retail stores, Aveda has magnetic cards in front of each product that describes the benefits of the product as well as what products they partner with. For example, Aveda’s Color Conserve shampoo links to the Color Conserve Foaming Leave-in Conditioner, as well as a referral to a salon near you in order to have a professional stylist color your hair. “On the Web we link similar kinds of products and services,” Snitz says.

Tip #7: Do not forget about images in email communications

Aveda sends out a monthly email that always promotes a new product. The email includes a model shot that shows the benefits of the product, as well as a package picture so consumers can recognize the product on the shelf or in a magazine ad. It is important to carry the same image through from the email to the product’s landing page.

They try to keep the product photo large, but the email can not be so heavy that the consumer has to wait for the email to load.
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