Packaging for SharedBook bridges the Internet with a real-world presence to reach a special market niche: People who want to publish their photos and memories in book form using the company’s Web portal.
Consumers upload their photo memories and submit copy, and SharedBook returns a published book mailed back to them as a keepsake.
“Our packaging uniquely unifies the online and offline world in the new categories of one-to-one publishing and digital photobooks,” says Rick Hunt, SharedBook vice-president of marketing. “The design incorporates, in one compact unit, this totally new product concept, along with everything the consumer needs to successfully complete the project online.”
Formed in 2004, SharedBook in 2006 brought its online presence into real-world retail via a simple carton similar to that used for computer software.
“Our product is not all that different than picking up a videogame or software that you purchase at retail and use it at home in conjunction with your computer,” says Hunt. “The difference is that it’s not a piece of client software, it’s an online application.”
SharedBook has grown while expanding its offerings to more than 25 book occasions ranging from births to sports to vacations.The MemoryBooks start at $29.95 for soft cover, $39.95 for hard cover books and range from 20-200 pages in length.
Second package format
Shortly after the carton introduction, SharedBook developed a second package format introduced in August 2006: The “pillow pack” or “envelope pack." Both it and the carton are supplied by Acorn Press (www.acornpress.com). The carton is 18-pt SBS C1S offset-printed in four colors; the envelope pack mailer is 10-pt SBS C1S and similarly printed. Acorn also conducts the product fulfillment in-house.
“Primarily, the envelope pack is just a small, convenient container,” he says. “Despite its size, it has everything that the consumer needs to create a wonderful book project which, of course, is the output of our application.”
The envelope pack (shown at right) contains everything the carton (shown below) does: A voucher with a unique code for consumers to complete their order online, a user’s guide, and a CD mailer for those who want to send in their materials for SharedBook’s editors to create the project. In a thinner, mailer-like package, it feels more substantial.
Why two formats?
Why the rapid evolution to the new package?
“We quickly realized that the carton wouldn’t be the preferred package and unit in all situations, largely having to do with the issues of space and easy transportation,” observes Hunt. “I would say the pillow pack is an evolution for us.
"Although the carton is still available and it works fine in some instances, we’re getting a clear preference from retailers, direct marketing customers, and consumers that they like this envelope pack.”
Hunt says that’s largely because of the physical volume of the two formats.
“There’s an immediate understanding on the part of the consumer of the value proposition, and it wasn’t intuitive why the carton seemed light and why the envelope pack seems heavier," he explains. "Both packages have the same contents, though some people may have actually thought there might have been something missing from the carton.”
Enticing by design
Package graphics were designed by MADA (www.madadesign.com) with some added expertise from Richard Gottlieb & Associates, LLC, (www.richardgottliebassoc.com), a New York consulting firm. “They were both instrumental in helping us create our packaging,” says Hunt.
In light of the fact that this was a new product and new product category, Hunt says it was crucial that consumers be enticed to pick up and read the package.
“If we don’t make that package appealing and enticing and generate enough curiosity and interest for them to pick it up, they're going to walk right by it,” says Hunt. “We needed to communicate quickly the benefits and the ease of use."
By eliminating the package depth, the new format’s source reduction is also a plus in today’s environmentally conscious climate.
“Some of our retail partners are happy about that, because frankly it’s a ‘greener’ package,” says Hunt. “This format has greater convenience, is more pleasing to our consumer, more efficacious for our retailer partners, and is also more green in the sense of the source reduction from the carton. It’s an appealing alternative in so many ways."
SharedBook will likely phase out the carton even as a next-generation envelope pack is reworked into a mail-ready format, according to Hunt. Currently, both packages contain a self mailer, but soon the envelope pack will also be the self mailer.
“It was designed with flexibility in mind,” Hunt says. “That’s a real interesting twist because it shows the versatility of the packaging.”