By Laura Denman
Package design is not decoration. Did you know that 80 percent of all purchasing decisions are made in-store? As traditional media is being revolutionized right before our eyes, your packaging will most likely be the first introduction a consumer has to your product and we all know how important first impressions are. Your package is a valuable asset that can make or break the sale of your item and should be considered as important as the item itself. After all, no one is even going to try your product if the package is not appealing…there’s simply too much competition to choose from.
Let’s review four key packaging attributes that should be considered prior to making any packaging decisions. Innovation, Visibility, Content and Appeal.Innovation
The buzzword in product development today is innovation. You can only color and shape a toilet brush in so many ways before you have to start considering how to change the mechanics of the product, thus the invention of disposable heads. The same theory can be applied to packaging design.
Take Target’s pharmaceutical packaging for example. For years your pills were delivered in the same cylindrical bottle with the same small text and illegible instructions. Hopefully you didn’t have more than one family member with prescriptions or else your medicine cabinet really became confusing. With the innovation of Target’s bottle, not only do you know whom the prescription is for by the color band but also the name of the medication as it is clearly indicated on the top of the bottle. Target’s slimmer bottle design allows for a better fit in your cabinet and easier-to-read text on a non-curved surface. Target’s innovation of the pill bottle was a great way to kick off their new pharmacy and draw a following of consumers who were looking for a better experience.Visibility
The visibility attribute sets your product apart from your competitors. Before beginning a package design project, a category audit should be conducted. It is important to discover who your shelf neighbors are and what attributes they possess in order to design for difference.
Think about the vegetable aisle in your grocery store. Everything is green. Yes, it must be green or the consumer will not buy it. Shoppers expect green for their vegetables and red for their sauces … there is no getting around that. So what can someone do to stand out on a shelf with those kinds of constraints? How about simplify. Recently Publix redesigned their generic items. Not only do the Publix products retain the bargain look, but the simplicity of the design actually makes the product stand off the shelf in a world of green. It is not the most elaborate design but it is perfect for a brand of that price point. Their redesign jumps off the shelf far quicker than many of their counterparts.Content
Examine the difference between Nordstoms and JC Penney. You walk into Nordstroms and your senses are immediately affected. The sound of a piano player in the middle of the store and the fact that you are not bombarded with sale items or cluttered aisles of merchandise allude to a feeling of elite. You immediately sense that the store is upscale. Now think about JC Penney, you can barely walk through the store without knocking something over nor can you see past 10 feet in front of you as the aisles of merchandise are stacked high. This environmental scenario will tell you that somewhere in JC Penney there is a bargain for you. Neither of these scenarios is incorrect. It is all about your brand and how you want your product or service to be perceived.
Content for packaging works similarly. If you clutter your package with flashy stickers of “New!” or “As Seen on TV”, expect to set your product to a lower price point. On the contrary, develop a package with a sleek design and less clutter, expect a perception of higher quality and set your product at a higher price point. Remember, you still must uphold your brand promise. Putting junk in a nice box does not change the fact that it is junk.Appeal
Lastly, the most important attribute is appeal. The word attribute is used loosely in this case, as appeal has to do with the combination of Innovation, Visibility and Content. After you have examined these key attributes, you must determine if your solution is appealing. The best way to determine appeal is to conduct research specific to your objectives.
As television ad viewers and radio listeners decrease due to a recent shift in lifestyle habits, the importance of your package speaking for you is immeasurable. Your package is akin to a first impression of your product and company. Uniqueness, appearance and content determine whether a person is worth engaging in conversation and the same goes for your product. Make sure that your product can easily make that leap from shelf to hand.
Laura Denman is the Strategy Director for XO Create! who provides expertise in package design for the youth market. XO Create! assists organizations in positioning and moving product through compelling packaging solutions.