Product packaging is certainly not a frequent topic we cover here on Social Media Explorer, but I received a gift recently that, frankly, I couldn’t figure out, even after I opened it. Oddly, after I went to their website, I was able to ascertain what the product was, but only through context clues and assumptions. I still can’t figure out what this product actually is or does in some sort of official way from the brand.

The item, which came in a box that simply said, “Power Balance Performance Technology,” (I would tell you what the product was but again, I don’t know) appears to be some sort of necklace. I assume, because of the indication that professional athletes use it, that it’s one of those golf bracelet type magnetic alignment thingamabobs that’s supposed to make you Lebron James overnight or something. But I can’t confirm that.

Even the company’s website is written in such a vague way that all I can identify this item as is a, “silicone pendant.” Nothing on the site explains what the silicone pendant does. The closest it comes is by saying, “… these pendants were designed with performance in mind. Complete with two Power Balance holograms, you get the same functionality as all Power Balance products.” No where did I find what those same functions were.

Here’s the video so you can see the package for yourself:

So what do you think? Are only “it-getters” going to buy this? Does it need a product description somewhere? It was given to me as a gift. Why would I use it if I have no clue what it does or does not do. I’m confused, but am I missing something? Would you agree the packaging is flawed? The website? Interested in your thoughts.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Anonymous

    Jason – Yikes. This is weak packaging. However, I think, as you note, it’s a larger ‘packaging issue’ directly related to the overall brand DNA, especially the name. That’s why the physical packaging, website, etc are all out of whack. There’s two problems as I see it. I think words like ‘Power’, ‘Performance’, and ‘Balance’ are overused across all industries to the point that they almost mean nothing all strung together like this. The name itself needs to be grounded a bit more in some (this is totally unintentional) “No Bullshit” terms. Plus, if you do employ abstract or unclear naming I think you owe it to your brand to utilize a “dummy proof” subheading. If you want name your product ‘Magenta Gecko’ you need to add a line like ‘Fitness Sync Bracelet’ or something to help telegraph the message and category. Plus the more they tie real-world, categorical and descriptive words with their brand online they’ll see better search benefits as well.

    The other odd thing here. When you first described this I was expecting to find something minimalistic and arty as that’s a common bad packaging twist. However, they have plenty of words both in their name and packaging overall that could have been better spent IMHO.

    That’s my two cents. 

  • Tracey Byrnes

    My two cents…I figured out what it was (general category: magnetic therapy to improve health and wellness), but only because I’m somewhat familiar with other items in that industry.

    As far the packaging goes – and their website too, for that matter – the attempt to go with a minimalistic style and mystique just isn’t working if the objective is to generate and/or drive product sales. In fact, the way both packaging and site are currently structured I suspect that the greater part of consumer-generated word-of-mouth is going to be negative publicity rather than positive, since detailed product info is pretty much non-existent.

    At the very least they need a bit of description on the package that says something to the effect of “this is a melding of Eastern and Western health techniques that are designed to help you improve your physical well-being.” This would allow the packaging to stay sleek and minimalistic in design  - which is, to its credit, a clean and uncluttered look.

    I would also recommend expanding the “…improve your physical well-being” statement into greater detail on the website and using it in conjunction with the photos of athletes wearing it. The one will help validate the other (and vice-versa) in the minds of consumers…and most likely result in better sales since people would have a better idea of what you’re asking them to buy. Pretty pictures notwithstanding, if I can’t figure out 1) what your product does and 2) why your product is better than your competitors’ offerings, I’m not going to buy from you.

  • Tracey Byrnes

    My two cents…I figured out what it was (general category: magnetic therapy to improve health and wellness), but only because I’m somewhat familiar with other items in that industry.

    As far the packaging goes – and their website too, for that matter – the attempt to go with a minimalistic style and mystique just isn’t working if the objective is to generate and/or drive product sales. In fact, the way both packaging and site are currently structured I suspect that the greater part of consumer-generated word-of-mouth is going to be negative publicity rather than positive, since detailed product info is pretty much non-existent.

    At the very least they need a bit of description on the package that says something to the effect of “this is a melding of Eastern and Western health techniques that are designed to help you improve your physical well-being.” This would allow the packaging to stay sleek and minimalistic in design  - which is, to its credit, a clean and uncluttered look.

    I would also recommend expanding the “…improve your physical well-being” statement into greater detail on the website and using it in conjunction with the photos of athletes wearing it. The one will help validate the other (and vice-versa) in the minds of consumers…and most likely result in better sales since people would have a better idea of what you’re asking them to buy. Pretty pictures notwithstanding, if I can’t figure out 1) what your product does and 2) why your product is better than your competitors’ offerings, I’m not going to buy from you.

  • http://twitter.com/vincerobisch Vince Robisch

    I think both the product packaging and the website have a problem with clarity but I think there is a more subtle issue at work. 

    As a copywriter, it would be nice if the words on their site meant something. They are vague and try to create interest from inference rather than explaining what the product is, what it does and why you should care.

    The subtle issue that I think is at work is a fear of making claims that they can’t substantiate. I applaud them for not actually stating that this product will give you power, balance and improved performance because they probably can’t back that up from a clinical standpoint.

    Instead, they are trying to infer the benefits through their name, athlete endorsements and other buzz words. This wouldn’t work for most businesses but it might be working for them.

    • http://kellyeclectic.com/ Kelly

      I agree with Vince – I looked up powerbalance on the web in other places besides their own website, and they are loudly decried for being snake oil. They, through holographic images? Somehow are supposed to make you have better balance and be better at sports. Huh.

      I saw this article that goes into some detail how the PowerBalance brand has gotten in trouble over its claims, possibly causing the company to become very vague in its marketing language…

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12135402 

  • Jessica Overend

    I think
    it is extremely interesting to find products like these that are actually distributed.
    It makes me wonder what businesses like Power Balance discuss about marketing
    and public relations before they distribute a product or if they discuss it at
    all.

     

    I also
    did a little research on the product and I can’t believe how much digging you
    have to do to find out exactly what the product is. Products like this bring me
    to think about ethics in communication and how a company can knowingly put out
    a product to the public that doesn’t really explain what it is.

    For example, In Ethics in Human Communication,
    Johannesen, Valde, and Whedbee (2008) reference Dr.
    Nicholas Rescher, a philosophy professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
    Rescher believes that in order for a message or product to be unethical, the
    person or business must deliberately know that it is unethical. In the case of
    Power Balance, I think the business must have known that the information they
    put on the packaging on website did not fully explain what the product does,
    but I’m not sure if this is considered an ethical problem or simply a lack of
    knowledge.

    I don’t completely agree with Dr. Rescher in the
    fact that a person must be deliberately acting unethical to have a message that
    is unethical. It seems to me that if a message is put out by a business that is
    unethical, the business is responsible for that unethical message and is
    therefore, unethical. Also in Ethics in
    Human Communication, the authors of Moralities
    of Everyday Life are quoted saying “there is a close relationship between
    responsibility and intent—we are responsible for what we intend to do, what we
    are trying to do,” (p.8).

    Thanks for this blog post! It definitely made me
    think about the deceptive nature of some products.

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