RePack won the German Design Award 2020 in the category ‘Excellent Communication Design Packaging’!
“Are you talking to me?”: 3 ways we have improved our communication about returnable packaging
For 5 years, RePack collected feedback and interviewed end-user in order to improve communication and therefore the rate of reuse. Here are the insights.
RePack packages are designed to be returned and reused, meaning that design choices have been made with this in mind. When empty, the packages can be folded to the size of a small envelope so that they can easily be returned via the postal system, and thus be reused.
For the last five years, we have systematically collected feedback from both our customers as well as consumers – who are the ultimate end-users of the RePack packages. We do not only listen to our end-users but also try to engage them in our design process.
Even though most of our feedback is ridiculously good, there are always plenty of helpful suggestions for improvements that we try to implement in our products and services.
How did we co-developed packaging communication with our users?
To be effective in our communication and successful in achieving our goals, the end-user must first be educated on RePack’s system. They need to know RePack is not single-use and does not belong in the trash. Secondly, the tone of voice in brand communication should spark interest and enthusiasm. Lastly, content, like the return instructions, need to be clear and concise because RePack’s use cycle is counterintuitive to the use of conventional packaging.
1) Shout out, nudge and find new ways to educate
What we have done differently in our new packaging is that we now want to familiarise the mainstream with the concept of returnable packaging even stronger than before. Since we want to encourage a new kind of behaviour - returning an empty package - we have constantly tested different nudge messages, as well as improved the educational elements on the packaging. Through this, we were able to understand which method works the best to increase the number of returned empty packages.
However, what we have learned by listening to our end-users is that over-simplification should be avoided when it comes to communicating about the concept of returnable packaging. Even though simplicity and ease of use are among the characteristics that our end-users appreciate, we have discovered that the majority of mainstream consumers still don’t necessarily know what to do with a RePack package if they receive it – especially if they didn’t choose it during the checkout or are unfamiliar with the concept of returnable packaging.
2) Balance between formal and informal
Yes, RePack speaks in the first person. Since the very beginning, we have used a fun, bold and engaging tone of voice to address our audiences and make the RePack brand personality something our customers and end-users won’t forget soon. We have always preferred more relaxed and less formal communication that offers more of a human connection. Some examples of this in the new packaging include statements like:
- “I am a reusable and returnable package”
- “Do I look like trash to you?”
- “Don’t throw me away”
Even though this type of language is fun, it is important to be careful about overusing it. This is a tricky balance to achieve because the language should be more relaxed and less formal, but simultaneously remain professional. For example, when it comes to RePack’s return instructions, there is a need to be precise and explicit about the objectives. Different kinds of return instructions have always played an important role in RePack’s communication, and we have tried to secure this early on in the design process. We have made sure that our return instructions are always very clear about the need to return the empty package.
What we have learned is that word choices can have a great influence on how end-users respond to return instructions. Therefore even the smallest details, such as using specific words like ‘reusable packaging’ and ‘envelope size’, can affect how instructions are understood and how content comes across. Furthermore, punctuation has a grave effect on how the text is read. The use of an exclamation mark can lighten the tone of the message, and align with RePack’s fun brand personality.
3) Avoid mixed messages – keep it clear and brief
When designing the new packaging and its communication, we had to put ourselves in the shoes of our end-users: understand their reaction and behaviour when they receive a package. For our new packaging, some of the visual elements were redesigned so that our end-users should be able to locate and understand information more easily than before. We had to step back and explain RePack to people who are not familiar with the concept of returnable packaging.
There has been the need for more informative return instructions. One thing that we have learned is that sometimes retailer instructions - such as product return or exchange instructions - conflict with RePack instructions. This is especially the case if the end-user is not familiar with the concept of returnable packaging. In these unclear situations, the instructions related to empty returns can be confused with the other instructions, and it may be unclear whether they were meant for returning items or only the empty package.
In the new packaging, we have also added QR codes to strengthen our communication and enhance the physical packaging instructions with the digital one. By scanning the QR code on the RePack packaging with a smartphone, the end-users are now able to find more information and instructions behind the digital link. Digital instructions allow us to create more interactive content and instructions in the future, by using animations and videos to support our end-users in their empty returns and product returns.