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Product packaging is the main event in the shopper experience.

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Successful product packaging sells. Any company that invests millions of dollars in product development, consumer research, and marketing expects a return on that investment. The retail shelf is where that happens.

Product packaging is an integral component of the shopping experience. For many people shopping/buying is as much or more an emotional experience as it is a function of picking up stuff they need.

With 80% of purchase decisions being made at shelf, the product’s presentation is the only form of marketing seen by 100% of the folks who reach for it and drop the product into their shopping cart.

Advertising can’t make that claim.

As a brand owner and marketer, no one is more sensitive and aware than you of the daunting task to create successful packaging in an over-crowded-with-abundant choice retail environment.

The design of your packaging determines if your product will make it into the shopping cart or not.

In every product category, from elegant wine and spirits, perfumes and apparel to laundry soap and toilet paper, successful packaging design is about connecting emotionally. If the product packaging doesn’t reach out and instantly connect with the consumer, it’s game over.

Packaging that sells is friendly to the mind and connected to the heart of the shopper. In other words your packaging must be designed to be imminently “shopable”.

Awareness + Emotion in a nano-second.

The mind filters things out with amazing speed and effectiveness. Think about times when you were shopping looking for something specific, or times when something caught your briefest attention.

Your mind is constantly filtering out stuff underneath your conscious awareness while you are consciously searching for another thing. Yet when something catches your attention, to hold it long enough for your brain to register, it has to connect with your heart. You have to experience an emotion in order to continue to hold your attention for longer than a nano second.

As marketers, that’s all the time your product packaging has to make a sale and win at shelf.

 The two battles at the retail shelf.

To make a sale, there are two battles at shelf you have to win. First, people have notice your product and reach for it (as opposed to something else). Secondly, people have to drop it in the cart. You have to win both battles. The product’s packaging is the only weapon you have to win the battle.

Designing shopability into your product packaging.

Shopability is how well your packaging will catch the attention and connect to the emotions of your target consumer. Unlike so many other marketing tactics where you have far less control, you can control the shopability factor into your packaging by design.

Packaging that is shopable shares these essential design characteristics:

The Brand Billboard Effect If you have a complete line of products that involve several facings on the shelf, the brand’s visual identity should form a big billboard shouting out who the brand is across the shelf.

Simplify The Focus Keep it extremely simple and focus on the highest emotional benefit the product provides. The consumer needs to know what makes the brand special and why they should buy.

The Brand Messaging Hierarchy How many layers of branding are on the packaging facing? If you have layers of branding on the facing (corporate brand, sub-brand, product segment, violators and flags), are these layers supporting how the consumer’s mind is working? Is your branding useful or just white noise?

Spotlighting Putting visual emphasis on a new feature or a differentiated attribute is a common practice. Is the spotlighting on your packaging a promotional disruption, or is it an integrated descriptor that is important to product segmentation and shopper experience?

The Impression Hierarchy

The mind sees, imprints and recalls in a systematic way. To make an impression on the mind, packaging needs to support how people perceive levels of information when they are shopping. Information is processed incrementally in a sequenced manner. In order of perceptual importance to the mind, packaging design must support these impressions:

color – invokes a physical response

shape – creates and supports recognition

imagery – stirs emotions and fulfills needs

words – informs

When you’re facing the task of creating and designing new packaging, it’s important to consider how the consumer’s mind deals with managing the intense overload of sensory information coming at them from every direction when they’re walking down the store aisle.

How customers see, connect and recall things has important implications for how shopable your products are at the retail shelf. Packaging that sells is always shopable.


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