Shelf parity = a brand/products inability to stand out on shelf.

Fighting shelf parity means gaining consumer attention at the retail shelf by clearly understanding what will draw your targeted consumer in.

It’s no secret that the number of products on the supermarket shelf is continually increasing. At the same time retailers have become far more sophisticated in allocating their shelf space. Added to this condition there’s the increased rise of private label products and the retailers own “fighter brands” which have all made it harder and harder for brands to achieve growth. Shelf parity on cluttered shelves, half-baked and expensive promotions have resulted in a product parity and a brands inability to stand out on shelf. Shelf parity is otherwise known as “me too’ness

The problem of “me too-ness

With the average retailer stocking around 40,000 products, today’s consumers have trained themselves to tune out and filter their purchasing decisions. Research clearly demonstrates that consumers are not only making up their mind in a matter of seconds, but they are also reconsidering their choice every other time they buy. That said, a research study conducted in the UK  by Starcom MediaVest Group, concluded that nearly half of Mums (49%) write a shopping list, but 61% of these remain flexible over what they buy. This is the biggest opportunity facing brands who are looking to grow their share of the consumer wallet.

Did you know that according to PRS research, (Perception Research Services), 30% of products on shelf aren’t ever even seen and often completely overlooked? So yes, whilst advertising can cast a wide net to attract and appeal and bring consumers to the retail shelf it’s the packaging of the product that ultimately closes the deal. Whats going to make your targeted consumer pick up the product and ultimately take it home? You must clearly understand this to avoid shelf parity.

The critical link…The retail shelf

The retail shelf is the critically important link in the value chain from manufacturer to retailer to consumer. It is at the shelf where…

  • brand and product and packaging strategy gets found out
  • brands and their product innovations put on trial before the consuming public.
  • pricing decisions tend to get made
  • competitors sit side by side
  • sales promotions take place.
  • real supply meets demand in the most observable way.
  • the targeted consumer gets to use and experience the brand.
  • targeted consumers pay tribute to the product by placing them in the shopping trolley
  • sales are made or lost

Fighting shelf parity doesn’t mean shouting at them

Grabbing consumer attention at the retail shelf is not simply just “SHOUTING LOUDER” than your competitors. It’s about understanding what will draw your targeted consumer in.  To be successful and fight against shelf parity on the retail shelf you have to understand the science of specifics that will lure your targeted audience to the shelf and then have them take your product home, again and again.

Great packaging design is highly strategic with success tied directly to sales.

According to a recent Dieline articlePackaging designers are now in charge of directing the consumer experience, leading to a connection with the product and a brand. The design must articulate the value of the product in simple, approachable terms and connect with the consumer through the torrent of information”

Effective packaging design must …

  • communicate ones brand/product on an emotional level with the targeted consumer.
  • activate the consumers senses.
  • enters into the conversation in the head of the consumer, speaking directly to them from the shelf.
  • ensure people, feel, smell, taste & try
  • engage, captivate, involve and inform the targeted consumer keeping them coming back for more.
  • ultimately converts browsers into buyers.

Fighting shelf parity means brands can no longer play small

To compete on the retail shelf against all the odds, brands need to play full out and not “hide their light under a bushel.” They must stand out in store allowing their identity to shine. They no longer have the luxury of playing small on shelf. Brands, both new and old, need to lean heavily on their heritage, or on the “Instagram image,” but claiming who they are and what they stand for is no longer an option. Brands have to keep focused on the essential and oust the rest.

So play big or go home…because there is no alternative anymore!