To win the battle at the shelf, brand marketers must understand the success code for winning on-shelf. There is a specific packaging success code which maximises on shelf sales results. Because… whilst brand marketers recognise the influence packaging has on winning the “on-shelf competition”, only a few truly understand what it takes, besides aesthetics, to create a pack that really crushes on shelf.
Why? Because whilst brand marketers may have a solid understanding of marketing and consumer behaviours, they don’t necessarily have the know-how when it comes to marrying marketing strategy, commercial design, artistic expression and innovative thinking all together.

It takes more than a few tweaks on a label to win on shelf, there’s a Success Code 

If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” Benjamin Franklin

The more competitive the battle on-shelf, the more marketers become frenetic in their efforts to do whatever it takes to get their share of the consumer’s wallet. They’ll try a variety of sales strategies, like adding additional features & benefits to a pack, or developing clever sales copy, or discount and run promotions. All of these tactics are in essence seen as quick fixes to achieve their KPI’s. Everyone knows a “quick fix” never pays off for a brand long term, because it is just that, a quick, short term  fix. 

There’s a specific success code for winning on-shelf . To win the “on-shelf-battle” entails a whole lot more than simply trying to embody the value of your product with just pretty pictures and a few wonderful features and benefits. Consumers have come to see both the product and the packs within which they are contained all as one value proposition. This includes the on-pack language, the materials used to create the pack, the pack form and the graphical schema employed (the graphical schema includes, all colours, typography and symbols).

Success code p
ackage design hierarchy 

Consumer research demonstrates that the optimum pack communications strategy follows the below hierarchy:

1. Colour

2. Shapes and symbols.

3. Words

People are inherently visual in nature. Numerous research studies have proven this, consumer’s just don’t read. How many times have you pulled on a door that said push? Or said/heard the phrase “if all else fails read the instructions?”. Whilst both of these examples are used in jest, they also stem from an inherent trend in human nature, we don’t read if we don’t have to.

There are of course always going to be exceptions to this, but only when words are used as a symbol. This means the words act as the visual cues the consumer needs to make a split second decision.

EXAMPLE of words as a symbol.

Word Pack Design

The point here is, don’t rely on words to win on shelf. When it comes to your packaging winning on shelf, the entire pack must sell.

On pack messaging and communications management

Busy “seek and destroy” supermarket shoppers are typically attracted to those brands and products where the packaging has been designed so effectively that the consumers every need has been answered in chronological order. In laymen’s terms, the pack has been designed so it’s completely intuitive for the consumer, before they even formulate a question, the pack has answered it for them. Effective implementation of this strategy is no simple task. To win on-shelf takes an in-depth understanding of not only the consumer’s need state, but also the reasons behind why they’d be choosing your product and how your product helps them far more so than the competitors option.

An effectively designed pack that wins the on shelf battle has a predetermined communication hierarchy. This hierarchy is more complex than simply listing features and benefits in order of importance. It also stretches beyond understanding where consumer’s eyes go as they read (top to bottom and left to right). So how do you achieve an effective communications hierarchy? You need to know the answer to three critical questions about your product:

  • Who am I?
  • What makes me special?
  • Why should you buy me?

The answer to these will ensure your messaging is visually compartmentalised and the resultant impact on sales will be significant.

Take a consumer standing at the meat fridge. To create an impactful design hierarchy involves more than simply seeing the word “beef” on a label. It can be pretty challenging to shop for beef if you don’t know the difference between the different types of quality or grading or even more confusing, the different cuts. Effective packaging design hierarchy involves knowing exactly what the targeted consumer wants to see on the pack. Are they looking for Organic or grain? What’s the difference between buying organic or free range beef? Then you add to this the overall brand personality, is it serious, loving, fun, sophisticated? As a marketer writing a brief you need to understand the answers to all of these questions to be able to brief in your design agency correctly.

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