Written by Abs Chamali & Jo Keeling.
Real-World Packaging: When it’s Safe to Let Your Pack Out on its Own
As consumers, we are surrounded by packaging designs in all shapes, sizes and colours; simple boxes, squeezy bottles, pouches, cans, tubes; the variety is endless. You could be fooled into thinking that the sheer variety of options gives you carte blanche to be as innovative and creative as you like in a design, but life is rarely that much fun!
The basic function of a package is to make a product ready for transport, warehousing, logistics, sale, and end use. It needs to be labelled clearly, be suitable for storage, and protect the product from damage until it reaches its final destination, but outside of these practical functions, your pack also plays a vital role in promoting your brand and selling the product inside.
The need for basic functionality already presents a set of constraints for a design, and in addition the brand owner need you to follow a set of guidelines to ensure that the eventual pack design communicates the brand’s core ideas and values (as well as including standard brand colour schemes, trademarks and messaging).
This standard design formula can overlook the vital ‘selling’ role that packaging plays. Sometimes we focus too heavily on how the product user experiences the pack and forget that packaging has a very different role to play when it is displayed in a shop. The product’s end-user’s are actually very different from the needs of the shopper.
So what does your pack need to deliver before it’s safe to let it loose in a retail store?
Particularly in terms of an initial purchase, the key function your pack needs to perform is to stand out amongst all the visual ‘noise’ in a busy retail store. Punchy branding, use of colour, and bold imagery will all help to create a presence and catch the eye.
There is such a thing as too much information! Your description for your biscuit is ‘buttery heart-shaped biscuits with a zingy raspberry filling’. You may even have spent time testing this wording to get it exactly right for your brand. However, take a step back to consider what catches a shopper’s eye at first glance, and crucially how much they will read. Shoppers typically spend a very short time browsing the biscuit fixture (possibly around 1-2 minutes or less), scanning many products and possibly picking up one or two packs to scrutinise. In a dwell time that short, with so many products to choose from, your carefully crafted on-pack statement may have limited cut-through.
3. Innovation/ ‘Newness’
In a shelf full of grey bottles, a green squeezy pouch will attract attention. Don’t be afraid to flout tradition and do something different, so long as it still fits with your product’s identity.
People in ‘shopper’ mode have many products to choose from and a small amount of time to decide, so your pack needs to make the purchase decision as easy as possible. Keep your product description clear and concise and if it stands out without the shopper having to pick the pack up to read it, then so much the better.
Optimising the design for all contexts is where smart packaging research comes into play, and the good news is that it does not have to be time consuming or expensive. With new cloud-based visualisation tools, pack testing from both a shopper and end-user perspective can be done quickly and cost-effectively online, and consumers can assess designs from the comfort of their own home.
Software development companies such as ConceptSauce offer cutting-edge solutions for transforming your pack concepts into 3D visuals that can be used to showcase your designs on shelf as well as by themselves. ConceptSauce’s Liveplano software includes an interactive shelf builder which lets you display your pack concept as part of different retail shelf layouts (or planograms). These layouts can then be integrated into online consumer research studies to test how well your pack performs on shelf.
ConceptSauce also offers a variety of other tools to help you to showcase your product design, including 3D product animations that allow the viewer to examine a design from all angles and explore all of its features. The 3D Interactive tagging tool is ideal for collaborative projects, as it allows the viewer to tag and comment on areas of interest on a pack concept.
Abs is a software specialist who has spent the last 10 plus years working in 3D Visualisation and web technologies. His passion is working with clients to develop innovative solutions that help them in Packaging development and research. He founded ConceptSauce in 2014.Jo is a market research consultant and writer with a specialism in shopper research and insight.
Abs Chamali is a software specialist who has spent the last 10 plus years working in 3D Visualisation and web technologies. His passion is working with clients to develop innovative solutions that help them in Packaging development and research. He founded ConceptSauce in 2014. Jo Keeling is a market research consultant and writer with a specialism in shopper research and insight.