Packaging can be confusing.
There are so many variables to take into account during the design process that sometimes it can seem impossible to tackle every one of them. The good news is that there is no need to start from scratch, as there are ample resources available for reference—just take a look at the shelf. Taking cues from the packaging of your competitors is a fantastic way to understand the mind of the consumer that you will be competing for. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of other brand’s package design by having field reps perform a retail audit gives you a clear advantage during the design process, but where exactly should you focus when collecting information? Here are a few vital pieces of information that every business should collect before beginning to design their own products.
Perhaps the most important component of the package design process, packaging materials depend heavily on not only the product within, but on a number of other variables. Shelf space, shipping and distribution process, security, and even legal standards all influence what materials are used when creating the perfect package. Regardless of what material you are considering, it is important to remember that packaging generally accounts for 8-10% of product costs to producers. This cost is usually reflected in the price of a good once it is brought to retail. If you want your product to remain at a competitive price point, packaging material may be something you want to take an especially close look at.
While being innovative with your packaging is a great way to distance yourself from the competition and make sure that consumers remember your product, straying too far from industry norms can actually confuse consumers. If there are certain flavors or versions of your product than are usually packaged with a specific color scheme or size, you may want to consider preserving that aspect in your design. Read our Best Practices Guide to Great Packaging to see exactly how strong the correlation is between packaging norms and consumer behavior.
Sometimes making your packaging work means getting creative. There are plenty of innovative ideas in packaging that are easy enough to work into pre-existing designs but using one of these trends as a template for a new design can really help your product stand out. A recent study on Eco-friendly packaging which surveyed consumers about what aspects of packaging were most important to them found that being environmentally friendly was the leading packaging concern for consumers. What this means is that eco-friendly packaging is not only a decision which is good for the environment, but can also be good for your product’s bottom line.
Whatever you observe from the packaging of competing brands, just remember that in the end, your packaging needs to be viable for your product—both creatively and financially. If the personality of the package doesn’t match your product, you risk leaving consumers confused. If however, your packaging is unique and efficient at the same time, you’ll have one more great reason for consumers to take a look at what you’re offering.
Mat Brogie is part of the founding team, and CEO of Repsly, the world's leading solution for high performance retail execution teams. Mat has spent the past 15 years of his career focused on bringing technology enabled business solutions to the consumer goods industry, having implemented solutions for tens of thousands of field reps at companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Pepperidge Farm and hundreds of others.