CPG companies spend significant time and money investing in developing packaging graphics that connect with the consumer. So much has been written about the importance of brand image, the ease and immediacy of the consumer grasping your brand and product message, and the importance of the size and structure of the package appealing to the consumer. And yet all the industry wisdom in the world seems to fall on deaf ears when it comes to a product actually sitting on the shelf. When package designs are being developed, why isn’t greater consideration given to what will happen once the package leaves the protective cocoon of the factory to live in any given store environment?
As I was walking through several stores over the past week, the Hidden Valley Ranch product displays finally pushed me over the edge.
Why should I be so upset? As a packaging design professional, it frustrates me to repeatedly see how products are poorly presented on shelf – particularly because I understand on a very practical level, the time, cost and effort it takes for a product team to build its brand, only to see it portrayed at the final point of sale in such a random and disheveled manner.
As a Hidden Valley consumer, I had a devil of a time finding just plain old ranch dressing mix. The shock came in the unfolding knowledge that the brand has added many new flavor combinations to its portfolio. With the way the packaging was displayed, how would I know? Being situated on the top shelf, I was able to distinguish between “ranch” and “dip” and that was about it. Nothing was readily discernable unless of course, you were extraordinarily tall. This meant the typical customer was forced to look up at the display, missing the all-important product variety and or flavor copy, which was blocked by the tray containing the product and making selection difficult.
As the late Stephen Covey said, “begin with the end in mind.” Think of the worst-case scenario of what might happen to your product at the shelf, and mindfully consider these tips.
- Consider your retail ready tray or display as important as your packaging in the creative process – how it enhances or impedes the consumer’s ability to engage with your product within the ever decreasing amount of time consumers spend shopping.
- If you’re going to package mix pouches in ready-to-display units, consider including the product and flavor variation on the tray, guiding consumers through the variety of products you are offering and preventing stores from stocking trays with unrelated or competitive products – oh the brand crime!
- Consider a different structural approach to your packaging other than a pouch, one that gives the product a shelf presence that consumers cannot ignore. In this instance, the good old carton, which contains pouches, is still the optimal way to face forward in the product line up and engage the consumer.
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