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May 30, 2018

Volume 3 Issue 8

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Labeling Requirements Called Opportunities

Packaging updates required for new and upcoming engine oil specifications may seem like a hassle, but they present opportunities for marketers to refresh brands, an industry insider told Lube Report.

“The opportunity to evaluate your brands against the competition provides the perfect opportunity to fine tune and update,” said Mark Elliott, brand manager at Amphora Brand Design. Appleton, Wisconsin-based Amphora is a package design and marketing company specializing in consumer product packaging, and a division of pre-press company OEC Graphics.

With the API SN Plus passenger car category supplement now on the market and ILSAC GF-6 expected by 2020, engine oil labels will already need to be revamped. “The labels need to be updated anyway, so why not take the unfortunate requirement and turn it into a competitive advantage,” said Elliott.

Companies can leverage the packaging update to develop a unique, relevant and defensible brand by following what Elliott calls a “brand process.”

This begins by understanding the exact problem an engine oil solves and any other goals it seeks to achieve, he advised. Next, companies should gather market insights and trends through stakeholder interviews, focus groups and auditions. “Market research can make or break the success of a brand,” Elliott claimed.

Third, a company should develop a brand blueprint, or create one statement that sets the company’s brand apart from others, including sales channels and places where consumers interact with the product.

“Now that a foundation has been built to support a brand, you are ready to develop the brand vision. This typically includes the naming, messaging, promise and visual assets to be used in marketing,” Elliott advised.

Finally, companies should develop case studies that demonstrate the positive outcomes of their products.

When revamping marketing strategies, companies should also consider other market trends. 

Alongside regulatory updates, e-commerce has made a significant impact on the petroleum industry, according to Elliott.

E-commerce is a growing sales channel, Elliott said, and warrants marketer attention. “Take the opportunity to design labels built for online consumption. Build digital shelf graphic assets and mini-ads so online retailers can easily post and share the key marketing messages your product demonstrates,” Elliott said.

Avoiding a digital marketing strategy could leave a company in the dust, he warned, as this trend is significantly changing how consumers purchase goods. Environmentally friendly practices should also be added into the marketing mix to stay relevant to today’s consumers, although Amphora has seen this trend only play a minor role in most packaged goods.

Companies with branded products are facing more competition from private label products. In recent years, consumer trust of private labels has increased, with private label products selling more than the national brand equivalent in some categories, according to Elliott. This means branded products must focus even more attention on differentiating their brand.

“If product qualities are similar, the brands have one other asset the private label providers do not: a higher level of emotional connection to the consumers. When brands leverage their longevity in the market and the emotional connections they have created through time with their consumer base, this will tip the price scale to ‘I’ll pay more to be associated with this brand,’” he claimed.

“Consumers have an overload of choices in today’s marketplace. Branding plays a critical role in delivering what a company stands for as well as their products’ features and benefits among all the competition,” said Elliott.