Packaging look alike: when the “double” is on the shelf

It is said that each one of us has at least one lookalike in the world; sometimes this is also true for many consumer products, which very often remind us of the most famous brands. It is the so-called look-alike packaging, a phenomenon that has exploded in America and then even arrived in Europe. Look alike literally means “it seems like” and refers to the practice of imitating the packaging of a famous product for attracting the public. A similar product wrapped in a very similar packaging: so similar that it confuses the consumer’s eye.

Attention: the look-alike phenomenon should not be confused with counterfeiting. Product counterfeiting is a real crime, which consists in faithfully reproducing the appearance of a product, copying the packaging, the graphic rendering, using the same name and logo, and passing it off as an original: a very dangerous crime, especially in pharmaceutical industry, that can cause serious damage to health, as well as to the economy.

The look-alike is not counterfeit, but in some ways, it could turn out to be more subtle: it does not “copy” the original product so you can tell they are two different products, but the second “imitates” the original, mangling the name for example. Using methods that are so effective that they can confuse the consumer.

Let’s take a look at a concrete example: in America there are some very famous cereals that carry an identifying image on the cardboard: a tiger cub having breakfast. Some other competition brand has recreated a packaging like the original one for colors and fonts, replacing the tiger with a white bear. Of course, it is not exactly identical, but in the hurry to fill the shopping cart it is easy to get confused, or to think that it is a variation of the same product. But it’s not like that. Add to this that often the “look-alikes” are sold at a lower price and … voila, the purchase is completed.

Generally, the most affected by the phenomenon of imitation are the “fast moving” products, meaning of mass consumption, those of the large-scale retail trade, which copy known brands. Has it ever happened to you in front of a supermarket shelf to find yourself in front of a product of a well-known brand and right next to see a similar product?

Sometimes the big supermarket chains offer products with their own brand, especially food: pasta, snacks, sauces … In these cases, we talk of products made in “private label” or “white label” by third producers, that the supermarket can resell as their own brand. Nothing bad, they are often excellent, but some chains sometimes exaggerate, presenting them on the shelf with a graphic that is much too similar to those of the original, but at lower prices.

The final price of a product is the sum of many variables, which also include the analysis of the target, the graphic study for packaging, the choice of materials, marketing positioning, communication and brand strengthening to win the trust of the public. All costs that in the case of the look-alike packaging are missing, because they are already supported by the company that produces the “original” product.

In the United States there is something called “trade dress”, that is a legal term the aspect with which it presents itself to the public, is protected and the phenomenon of the alike look is considered, in itself, an incorrect commercial practice. In Europe and in Italy there is no specific legislation, and we proceed on a case by case basis. However, legal resolutions have not been lacking in this sense, due to unfair competition due to slavish imitation (it is the case of a famous biscuit brand that has succeeded in overcoming a lesser known competitor – here the insights).

It would certainly be necessary to further investigate the effects of the look-alike packaging on brands, distribution, competition and consumers, which are increasingly interested in packaging issues, according to recent research about conscious consumers.

How, then, can an industry protect its products against the look-alike phenomenon? Unfortunately, design can always be copied, while technology and innovation need particular expertise, impossible to copy. Choosing a design packaging, but also innovative from the technological point of view, is undoubtedly a winning weapon when it comes to competing on the shelf.

Tubettificio Favia has chosen research and technological innovation to give greater value to its collapsible aluminium tubes, a perfect packaging for products in the pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic and fine arts industry, capable of making your product unique and inimitable. Such as? Think of ToBEUnique, a tube with digital printing that involves both the aluminum body and the closure capsule in a single process, for unique design effects that are impossible to imitate with other methods.

ToBeUnique is an exclusive of Tubettificio Favia and will therefore make your product exclusive. Furthermore, it can be integrated with Stealthcode® technology. A code invisible to the human eye but detectable by a mobile app is printed all over the artwork and allows scanning via online content: a real communication channel with end customers.

ToBeUnique is also available in the 100% green version, thanks to a new biodegradable capsule. (at this link, all information on ToBeNaturAL)

Do you want to discover our collapsible aluminium tubes and the new technologies available to you to make your products unique? Contact us it will be our pleasure to send you concrete examples and answer all your doubts.

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