2 words making the difference to packaging design performance

by | Oct 6, 2017 | Blog

There are 2 words that make all the difference to how your packaging design performs on-shelf and we get them mixed up all the time. One of these words delivers stellar results on shelf and the other produces somewhat meh results.

The 2 words that make the difference as to how your packaging design will perform on-shelf are:

  1. Outputs and
  2. Outcomes.

Is your packaging design output or outcome focused? The difference equals sales on shelf

Firstly, let’s get really clear on the definitions of the two words and then we’ll look at why and how it’s vital that we get them right when it comes to designing our pack for on-shelf sales.

For the purposes of this article…

Output is defined as: the amount of something produced by a person, machine, or industry. Whereas Outcome is defined as: the way a thing turns out; a consequence.

Strategic packaging design focuses on outcomes

Strategic packaging design focuses on outcomes rather than outputs. In doing so strategic design disrupts the shelf and leads to sales. Let me give you an example from a completely unrelated field to set the scene.

EXAMPLE: A hospital may measure success via outputs including the number of discharges or number of procedures carried out. Yet interestingly enough, in the USA research has shown that there is a 20% re-admission rate amongst Medicare patients that were discharged from a hospital within 30 days. These readmissions are caused by a combination of the poor quality of the medical care; the discharge protocols used and the care available to the patient’s

All of which end up costing the Medicare system between 15 to 20 billion dollars annually [2,3].

Not measuring outcomes means that organizations are making decisions that may not be directly related to the quality and impact of their services.

Output driven packaging

When organisations only measure outputs it means that they are making decisions which may not be directly related to the quality and impact of their products and services.

The same is true for brands and their designs.

Delivering a pack that don’t take into consideration the selling environment, or the need state of the consumers will only achieve a fraction of the results. If the business focus had been on outcomes and not outputs it would have been possible to deliver a design that truly speaks to the consumer. Not just delivering a design that tries to persuade them with a laundry list of features and benefits or brand blocking colours just to stand out on the shelf.  

Budget, fear and trust.

So, if outcome focussed design is guaranteed to deliver stellar results then why do so many brands get it wrong. Why do they focus on outputs? The answer comes down to three key elements: budget, fear and trust.

1 – Budget

I’ll start with budget – Often times strategic design comes with a high price tag. A price tag in an environment where marketers are being forced to do more with less. That said let’s follow the age old wisdom of the 7 P’s. Proper Prior Preparation Prevent Pitiful Poor Performance.

That said, what if the perception of the price tag for strategic design shifted so it was not seen as an expensive upfront cost but rather as an investment. An investment for developing an affordable marketing tool that you knew would deliver long term sales uplift?

2 – Fear

The second is fear. The ultra competitive shopping environment has had an adverse reaction on marketers and brands. This has created such a strong focus on what competitors are calling out that brands are no longer standing for something. Instead, they’re making the classic marketing 101 mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Easy to copy and discounting to counter declining sales.

3 – Trust

The late Stephen Covey gad this to say about trust, “Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, your motive and your intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, and your track record. Both are vital”Authentic outcomes viewed through this lens will engender both ongoing trust and consumer loyalty/

Does your brand…Do your products still engender trust with your consumer?  Do your consumers view your brand  as a brand of integrity? How does your targeted consumer view your motives and intentions?  Do they trust your product consistency? These are all outcomes!

Are you output or outcome driven?

You want your brand and its products to be outcome focused rather than output driven. Copy cats will come and go. Private label products will always have a place on the retail shelf. That said it’s your key role as a brand marketer along with your business partners to figure out and stay true to your business outcomes.