Design that “wins the on-shelf battle” always begins with strategy. Strategic packaging design has the power to radically change your on-shelf results.

Finding the balance between the commercial demands required of the packaging design and the creativity required to stand out on shelf and create an emotional connection, is the ongoing challenge of the professional packaging designer and marketer.

Often the commercial reality can be forgotten or sidelined when the focus becomes too design centric. Whilst the design may well be the most creative concept ever seen, it must also meet economic and commercial viability or it will never make the shelf.

On the other hand, too much commerciality focus on quick turn arounds, design by committee, short cutting, and pressure to deliver from the retailers etc. can also have a negative impact on the result at shelf.

The Two Battles At Shelf

A regular author on the Branding Strategy Insider blog, Thomson Dawson writes about the two battles marketers face at the shelf. Dawson writes, “First, people have notice your product and reach for it (as opposed to something else). Secondly, people have to drop it in the cart. You have to win both battles. The product’s packaging is the only weapon you have to win.”

Strategic Packaging Design

In every category, supermarket shelves are swamped with an overabundance of consumer products. Ever increasing competition, new products, private label and softening brand loyalty constantly contributes to product failure and poor sales.

Whilst marketers can invest millions of dollars to get consumers to the store and seek out their specific brand, however it’s in the last metre and final seconds that the consumer will browse their options available. This is where the sale is either made or lost. This is why the product packaging is so vital and cannot be left to chance or to a “shoot from the hip” marketer’s gut feel. It’s vital that brand managers and their packaging design partners acknowledge the critical importance of this final marketing touch point.

Strategic packaging design means completely understanding your consumers emotional and rational buying journey including all their influencers along the way to finally purchasing.

Here’s 5 steps to using strategic packaging design to ensure shelf success.

Step 1 –“Seek first to clearly understand” the end in mind.

  • What are the specific on-shelf results you need from the pack?
  • How much are you willing to invest to achieve those results?
  • What does finished look like?

Step 2 –“Seek first to understand” the brand and the product

  • Understand the heritage and personality of the brand
  • Understand the “reason for being’ and the problem/s the product solves.

 Step 3 – “Seek first to understand” the targeted consumer.

  • Uncover both the overt and hidden emotional needs and aspirational drivers
  • Determine the cultural and lifestyle, interests and attitude drivers
  • Get clear on the problem being language by the targeted consumer
  • Discover insights in the hearts and minds of customers which can be leveraged.

Step 4 – “Seek first to understand” the competitive landscape

  • Understanding the brand/products and how they compare to the competition on shelf.
  • Determine the key differences, advantages and disadvantages of the competition.
  • Clearly understand the brand/products USP.

Step 5 – Seek first to understand” – the intersection between the brand/product and the targeted consumer insights.

  • Determine the alignment areas between the brand/product and its targeted consumers demands.
  • Determine the key variables of the product and where it sits in relation to it’s competitors.
  • Highlight and communicate a credible difference based on a significant product characteristic.
  • Map out a plan for achieving the visual goal of the packaging design
  • Exploring the most effective way to visually communicate the key concept connecting with the targeted consumer.
  • Explore design concepts to bring the project to life.

Design is all in the strategy

The key to effective package design is all in the strategy. This is where the real magic happens.  Effective packaging design strategy is most impactful when it comes from a skilled package design strategist. The magic is delivered via a combination of experience, understanding design, commerciality  and a large dose of natural talent and passion for packaging. It is a complete misnomer to think that just anyone can deliver a packaging strategy that will achieve the results you are looking for. Just as you pay an orthodontist to get braces for your teeth rather than a simple dentist, so too for your packaging to have impact on shelf, a packaging design strategy is critical to success.

To find out how we can help you with your “on-shelf” package design strategy, contact us