The average American supermarket has 40,000 shelf items. Big box retailers, like Wal-Mart Supercenters, average 187,000 square feet with over 140,000 products. The average shopper spends less than four seconds on any particular product on a shelf, and studies have shown 70% of purchase decisions are made at the shelf. The thousands of online retailers have less than eight seconds to capture a potential buyer’s attention. So, what does this mean for companies selling packaged products? A lot.
The importance of product packaging
As you can see, a product’s packaging has become a crucial element in a company’s marketing and sales strategy. With consumers facing so many options, commercial packaging has become paramount for even the most renowned and established brands to convey a shelf presence of continued value, consistency, and convenience. Think Oreo and their resealable, easier to use package rollout that has been such tremendous success.
While big brands may have six figure marketing and design budgets, most businesses don’t have such funds to throw at product design. Instead, they rely upon innovation and knowing how buyers behave.
Packaging tips to help your brand be seen and bought
Almost any company on any budget can implement the following tips to improve their packaging strategy:
1. Authentically brand what you sell
Generic packaging just doesn’t cut it in today’s competitive market. Customers want to know the company behind the product and be able to immediately recognize products by design and logos. The most successful logos are those that speak to the customer, encourage them to buy before they even pick up the product, and are authentic to the company. The logo and packaging should be as attractive as the product itself.
2. Create a mistake-free zone
Check each batch of labeling, print, and design for processing errors and typos. Such can cost your business big if you have to issue a recall to retailers. Errors also do great harm to consumer confidence since most buyers will reason that a company with a poor proofing system on what’s outside the product surely doesn’t have a sufficient system for what they’re actually selling underneath the packaging.
3. Keep the customer experience at the forefront of design
The design of the package itself is just as important as what’s on the package. Let’s say your products are often shipped directly to the customer and that the product’s size means it should easily fit in a mailbox. If you overcomplicate your packaging, it may no longer fit and may be cumbersome for the recipient to carry, neither of which your customers will appreciate. The same goes for goods that sit awkwardly on shelves and are difficult to navigate through a store holding. Think about how Heinz ketchup sales soared when they simply flipped the container to open from the ‘bottom’.
4. Use packing solutions for breakable goods
It’s a big expense and customer confidence loss to replace items that don’t arrive intact. Protective shipping supplies are a must for fragile goods.
5. Be a company that cares about its footprint
Today, many consumers are very conscious about how their purchases impact the environment. Recyclable packaging is a great way to show your business is aligned with its customer’s social concerns.
6. Incentives and truths
One of the best ways to showcase your company within a product’s packaging is to provide incentives for consumers. This can be an internal brochure to explore the full product line, a free sample, a coupon, or even a thank you letter with bite-sized info about what makes your company and its customers special.
Keep truth in your packaging. Be bold. Be different. Have a distinctive shelf-impact. But, if the cookie isn’t drenched in chocolate, then don’t choose an image of chocolate being poured over the cookie. Such hype of misleadingly depicting a product as better than reality only leads to consumer disappointment, which ultimately trashes your brand’s image and confidence.
7. Use your staff
Ensure your staff are trained on how to safely and properly package and handle your products. Don’t neglect or ignore talking with them about procedures, which is one of the best ways to discover procedural or design flaws that impact shipping.
8. Keep it clear and simple
When it comes to ideal product packaging, you need to know the answers to two questions:
- What’s being sold - product?
- Who’s the indented buyer - purpose?
Take a stroll down a retailer’s aisle. You’ll see products that look pretty but fail to convey what they are and who they’re for. You’ll find household products clearly saying what they’re for but with contradicting and confusing packaging designs that look more like a beverage than a cleaner. For a packaging design to perform well, it must brand itself, identify itself, and give itself a purpose/buyer.