50% of a purchase experience is emotional

It’s been estimated that over 50% of a purchase experience is based on emotions. Our emotions drive our buying behaviour far more than technical features or functional factors.

The problem for most FMCG companies trying to connect emotionally with the consumer on-shelf is that they “get” the operational side of the product/customer relationship as opposed to really understanding the emotional connection side of the transaction.

A Forrester Research survey revealed that 89% of consumers felt no personal connection to the brands they buy. When there is limited or zero emotional connection to a brand or product, customers will swing elsewhere.

Emotional connection” is about capturing the consumers’ heart. How the consumer “feels” about a particular brand or a product determines their opinions and their buying decisions.

  • McKinsey Consulting research explains that consumers remember how they feel about a product/service, “customers are loyal because they are emotionally attached.
  • Gallup‘s research shows, “Customers don’t buy strictly for rational reasons.” Their report explains that, “If you don’t make an emotional connection with customers, then satisfaction is worthless.” Gallup’s research proves that those organisations that are focused on building emotional connection outperformed their competitors by 26%.

FMCG brands can fashion emotional connection by utilising their package design.

There are 10 elements that create magnetic emotional connection with package design.

1. Trust

Building trust means honouring your promises. This means always doing what you say you are going to do. Consistency and reliability builds trust. Always go out of your way to apologize to your customers when things go wrong. The package design therefore needs to reflect this trust factor.

2. Focus

Focus means putting the customer at the forefront of everything you do and not straying from that focus over time. This means making sure your customer feels they are your number one priority. Focus is consistency. By examining your internal processes and procedures you are ensuring that EVERYTHING (Including internal employee messages)is congruent with your focus.

Focus is remaining true to the single idea that demonstrates your value to the consumer that they can’t get anywhere else. This single focus needs to be reflected in the packaging design.

3. Listen, Really Listen! 

Before an effective package can be designed, the design must be based on authentic insights gleaned by listening, really listening to the customer. As designers we need to understand your customers’ experience and all of their feelings and expectations associated with it so we can create a pack that calls out to their needs.

4. Respect

The package design must demonstrate respect for the consumer.

  • What can designers do to demonstrate their understanding and respect of the consumer?
  • How can the package design show that you deliver on your promises?
  • How can the consumer be assured that if things go wrong, you’ll go out of your way to apologise and fix the issue?

By showing your absolute commitment to the quality of what’s inside the pack, you build respect in the eyes of the consumer.

 5. Associated Feelings

The packaging design must evoke a specific feeling. Know which feelings you are looking to evoke. The first step to identifying your consumers’ feelings is to recognise they are having a feeling. Then figure out exactly what the feeling is and design a package with that emotion in mind.

Effective package design means truly understanding the overarching emotional payoff that the consumer will be feeling when the product or service delivers fully on the experience they’re seeking. I feel good about myself; I feel proud of me; I deserve it are all emotional payoff’s as a result of using /consuming the product/service. When the designer understands the emotional payoff, they can apply design to drive consumer choice and specific category direction.

 6. Personality/Values

As packaging designers we need to instil personality into the product. A personality the consumer can relate to. Product personas affirm a consumers’ belief about that product. An example of this is “artisan” which evokes feelings of natural, homemade, authentic health.

Consumers need to feel like the product shares the same values as themselves. This drives emotional connection. This means the pack design needs to reflect the value set of the consumer its appealing to.

7. Alignment

In his white paper on “emotional territories” called MORE THAN A FEELING, Simon Pulman-Jones Global Director of GfK Innovation wrote: “Products and services will always change – their propositions needs to be flexible to meet changes in the market environment – and consumers’ need states will always be at the whim of external factors; their mood, the time of day, or changing lifestyles. But the emotional territory is more sustainable and can transcend the changes always going on at the level of needs and product features”

This is why it is so important for the packaging design to line up with and align to the emotional territory the brand is creating through all of it’s touch-points.

8. Sell Dreams Instead of Products

 As consumers, we make our purchase decisions based on how the product promises to make us feel. Brands and the packaging their products come in, offers the consumer access to an identity they want to experience and express. This means that as package designers, rather than simply figuring out how we can get a particular product sold, we must figure out the emotion we want the customer to feel. The package design needs to land that specific emotion into the heart of the customer. This establishes an emotional connection between product/brand and the consumer.

9. Customer Loyalty

The package design is fashioned to create a customer that has an emotional connection to the product or brand. Unfortunately the product and service often fall way below the standard projected by the package. The pack has over-promised.

This is why FMCG brands need to ensure they are continually focussed on delivering the promise of the product/service to the customer. This ongoing promise focus, builds trust and credibility in the product being sold. Customer loyalty is build up over time through a consistent delivery of the product promise making your customer feel as though they are your number one priority.

10. Design for Emotional Connection

  • Viscerally: Donald Norman’s “Emotional Design: Why We Love (Or Hate) Everyday Things,” explains that we actually relate viscerally to packs on shelf as a result of our initial impression with them. Our response is a purely instinctive reaction to the pack and therefore the product it contains. The package design therefore, can either make the consumer engage emotionally or it can leave the consumer feeling neutral or cold. Good visceral design should drive the desire to interact with the product.
  • Framing and composition. This must reflect the product’s personality. As designers we need to frame the stage on which the product stands, using the platform to help drive connection of the product with the consumer.
  • Colour: The right colour conveys the emotion you want to generate within the consumer.
  • Typography: Its been said, “Type talks”. Type has its own personality, and must reflect the personality of the product without sublimating it. Changing a product font can risk the relationship between product and audience.
  • Lighting, like staging creates the emotion and connection with the consumer.

On the journey to creating a sustainable product portfolio, if you want to create irresistible brands with emotional connection with your targeted audience, then these 9 elements of the packaging design process must be taken into consideration.