I love the night before Christmas. I’ve loved it since I was a little kid. I love gifts wrapped under a tree waiting to be opened. The anticipation of what’s inside of these perfectly wrapped boxes leads the mind to wander to a happy place of what might be in them. I also like wrapping a gift for someone else. Knowing I’ve picked the perfect gift and it’s ready to make someone else’s day gives me a sense of pride. I, however, don’t get as excited about gifts in a generic gift bag. Bags come off as phoned-in, as if the person who got the gift probably did it as an afterthought. Right, wrong or indifferent, that’s the message a gift bag gives me.
I feel the same way about my pizza box and the whole to-go packaging experience. My team and I have worked our ass off to make a perfect pizza, and I want a clean and well-designed box that will show the recipient of the pizza that I cared when I made it. When it comes to your pizza, if you’re selling it in a regular non-branded box with nothing else, it’s a letdown before the party even starts. It gives the impression that nothing special is about to occur.
I want the customer upon purchase of anything from Andolini’s to tap into the euphoric side of the brain where dopamine flows to create a sense of fulfillment that negates any purchase anxiety. What you might associate with people at the mall on a shopping spree is a real psychological transformation in the brain that I want my customers to feel upon purchase. I want them to experience the pride of purchase, and it’s pretty darn hard to get there before eating without some solid branding. Retail figured this out in the ’80s that people have a sense of pride in buying the best, so make your shopping bag as big and as bold as possible so that a person holding a bunch of bags walking down through the mall is a source of status. It’s the same concept, but for people who are more food-centric than fashionistas. The mental side of this is all the same.
Thoughtful packaging also alleviates purchase anxiety and leads to more repeat business. You want them looking for the pride of purchase that comes from something that is upper echelon, the best of the best — and that can only be achieved with great, unique branded packaging. It also allows you to charge the premium price your pizza deserves.
I’ll get just a bit more into this next month, so stay tuned!
Mike Bausch is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma.