Ah, there you are. What about a “hamburger”?
It seems as if the world generally tends towards maleness, and so would you say that the world of products and the world of packaging, too, are more male when it comes to fast-moving consumer goods?
This is an area where 70 to 84% of all products flop within the first year of marketing. With food it’s 90%. The reason is mainly that 90% of all purchasing decisions are made by women. No one has so far established a link between those two figures, because hardly anyone is aware of them. So the figures show that your perception is right. It’s true that a lot out there gets done with no regard to female decision-makers. If nearly 90% of all new product developments fail to survive the third year of their existence, then something seems to be wrong with them and also with their packaging.
So there’s enormous room for improvement, isn’t there?
Yes, there’s a lot of potential. When you consider that 70% of FMCGs flop and 90% of food, then that’s incredible! It’s as if those companies had money to burn. It’s so expensive!
It’s been estimated that the interpack magazine is read by 80% men, and only a very small proportion would normally want to look at gender marketing and gender-specific packaging design. So you might really be starting something.
(Laughs) Yes. So far packaging design has always been based more on gut feelings. It is of course hard to say whether a product flopped because the packaging didn’t work. There are so many criteria, and you can always blame some other cause for it. The right packaging design makes an amazing difference to the success of a product and its sales figures. But when it flops, not many people think of the packaging.
Would you say that in Germany the only products where enough love is invested in the packaging are expensive products?
Yes. Packaging mainly needs to be inexpensive. It’s generally a matter of costing, not marketing.
But surely, attractive packaging doesn’t need to be expensive, does it?
It doesn’t, but for the vast majority of manufacturers it seems to mean just that. They just keep using their existing packaging facilities and leave everything unchanged. But perhaps it would be good to use what you’ve got and then ask yourself how you can still make improvements.
What needs to happen so that products appeal to female decision-makers among consumers?
The marketing that is taught at universities is dominated by men. It’s been developed by men for a very long period of time. Even though there are many women in marketing departments, it’s still men who make the decisions. Women are rarely in decision-making positions. And whenever women are involved in a male industry, such as engineering or finance, they start looking at it through male eyes. And so we’ve got a cultural problem. The female perspective gets lost. Quite often male decision-makers lack the ability to empathise – and, of course, you can hardly blame them. No one has the slightest idea that there are target groups out there who tick completely differently and need something entirely different. Such an awareness would need to be created. It’s difficult to see the world through anybody’s eyes but your own, and it’s scary to realise that there are totally different worlds. But help is at hand.
Do people contact you about this?
They do occasionally, yes, but it doesn’t follow that they always like my answers.
Well, unpleasant answers are often the most helpful ones, aren’t they?
Yes, and some people find it easier to handle them then others. (Laughs) The question is always how far you can go with the company. With some of them it works very well, and with others it doesn’t.