Does Your Product Packaging Answer the Questions Your Potential Customers Care About?

baseball gloves CPGHow many times have you approached a set of products on the grocery store shelf only to be inundated by packages that all look the same or emphasize the same attributes? When you look at the design of packaging, especially in highly competitive CPG categories, it is typical to see very little difference. I like to ask a few basic questions:

  • What are the primary factors that drive consumers to purchase?
  • What do consumers value that is currently not being addressed in my product vertical?
  • What questions does a potential customer come into our store aisle with?

Asking these questions will help you answer the more critical question:

  • How does a brand differentiate and stimulate a purchase decision when thrown in among the masses?

This is the holy grail right? If you’re driving targeted consumers to your product through key packaging and pricing strategies you’ll not only make a sale that day but likely have a repeat buyer as long as the brand promise is being met.

Buying a Simple Baseball Glove

At the beginning of the last baseball season I was in a sporting goods store with my six-year-old nephew looking to buy his first glove. I knew from my 20+ years playing the sport that for a 6 year old I am looking for a glove that is easy to use. He needs the type of glove that, when he puts his hand in, can easily be closed with minimal hand strength. What surprised me was that the packaging and branding on every glove was relatively similar. They described the leather, an ample pocket and were signed by some baseball star or legend. This left us no other option other than to begin trying on a number of gloves until he found one that fit while opening and closing easily.

At this point the packaging had ZERO bearing on our decision making. Had one brand clearly stated, “Opens and closes easily for young players”, we would likely have gravitated to that glove. Now, we might be a case study of one, but when my nephew and I found a glove that provided for his needs, two other parents we were commiserating with grabbed the same gloves for the same reason.

Your packaging must not only have compelling visuals and a sustainable design, it needs to answer questions and fulfill the needs of the consumer .

Focusing on Needs over Product Features & Mechanics

baseball bats CPGIt is pretty common when surveying consumers about a product to ask them about the look, feel, price and potential desirability of a product. This often translates into product packaging and promotion that leans too heavily on product specifications. This information is critical when putting together the overarching retail strategy but if you are not addressing the consumers needs first, your offering, no matter how nice the presentation, will miss on its intended purpose—driving sales.

By identifying the primary need states of your target consumer, the product features and mechanics can shine when reinforced with messaging that speaks to those consumer needs. For example, the packaging on a baseball glove for a teenager should be different than that of an adult or child because the needs are different. His or her buying motivations may have little to do with mechanics and function and likely more to do with achieving a certain look.

Take advantage of what you know about your customer segments to get more specific with your research. This allows you to gain deeper insights that will give you an advantage when designing the packaging of your products.

Primary Market Research Needs a New Normal

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 1.25.35 PMPrimary market research has long had the legacy and stigma of excessively drawn out studies. Unless you had the budget of a large political campaign or fortune 50 you were stuck with prohibitively long turnover times. Now, you and I both know the value of being able to speak directly to your current and potential customers. You understand the value of being able to refine products and services to create a competitive edge. This is why for so many years companies from small to large have taken the time to better understand the specific needs of their customers through quality market research. Here at Carbonview we change these perceptions by providing the research insights you need to make decisions in the time frames business demands.

Carbonview Research continually enables people, refines process and optimizes technology in an ever-growing desire to compress time.

Lets look at an industry we can all wrap our heads around in mobile and mobile devices. Recently at dinner, I had a friend ask me why he should switch over to the Android platform versus his iPhone. Being that I am an avid Android fan I shared with him a few features and his response to me was, “How will I get all of my data and contacts ported over to the new device if I decide to change?”

Light bulb moment!

For my friend the biggest obstacle in changing from one device to another has little to do with features, screen size or camera resolution but rather how easy it is to get his digital existence from one box to another. Tying this to the methodology of enabling People, Refining Process and Optimizing Technology the people have the desire to use the technology but there is no process in place to make that transition easy. Therefore, people don’t change and likely feel trapped, not satisfied. By omitting one piece of the equation, process, the entire system breaks down for the vendor and consumer.

Primary Market Research Needs a New Normal 

Carbonview Research enables marketers, product development specialists and insights groups to make better business decisions MUCH faster! This is not because we push our people harder or because we have access to technology no one else has. We are simply dedicated to shortening the time it takes for you to go from an idea to a decision by enabling People, Refining Process and Optimizing Technology. How are you and your company leveraging this formula to increase profits and fulfill unmet customer needs?

Stagnito Media Acquires Carbonview Research

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 1.55.18 PMDeerfield, IllinoisStagnito Media announced today that it has acquired Carbonview Research, specialists in rapid-response, custom, primary market research and analysis for consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers, retailers, and agencies.

Stagnito Media, America’s fastest growing integrated information company serving CPG retailers, publishes leading print and online media that include Progressive Grocer, Convenience Store News, Private Label => Store Brands, The Gourmet Retailer, Retail Leader, and Hispanic Retail 360. Stagnito Media also produces top-tier retail industry events, such as the Store Brands Decisions Innovations & Marketing Summit and the Hispanic Retail 360 Summit.

Since its founding in 2005, Carbonview has become a leading provider of panel-based market research and analyses that improve the performance of retail brands. Its ability to quickly deliver effective solutions to complex research challenges is a significant complement to Stagnito Media’s information-based portfolio of products and services. The company acquisition will further strengthen Carbonview’s organizational commitment to providing research in compressed timeframes, allowing brands the ability to make critical business decisions faster.

“As retail markets and shopper behavior become increasingly complex, the insights provided by Carbonview Research will become ever more important,” said Harry Stagnito, President/CEO, Stagnito Media. “This is a perfect fit for our current research capabilities, and the acquisition continues our investment in extending our value to the retail market.”

“At Carbonview Research, our primary goal is to provide productive, full service research solutions that also meet the time and budgetary needs of our clients,” said Rich Ratcliff, President, Carbonview Research. “By joining Stagnito Media, we’ll be even better equipped to deliver on that goal. Stagnito’s leadership position in the market, comprehensive media resources, and depth of retail knowledge create significant synergies and the opportunity to provide more value than ever to the clients we serve.”                       

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Stagnito Media is a portfolio company of Long Island, NY-based Topspin Partners, LBO.

For more information, contact:
Harry Stagnito, President/CEO
Stagnito Media

Carbonview Research is a primary research consultancy founded in 2005
For more information, contact:
Rich Ratcliff, Senior Vice President

Branding is Never Black & White – The Importance of Color

colors in advertising and brandingColor plays a significant role in branding and design. How significant?

“Red or Blue – Which do you prefer?” the graphic designer asks when creating a new logo, website or advertisement.  However, the questions really being asked are:

  • How does this color make you feel?
  • What emotional response does the color on this design evoke?
  • How does this color help us better tell our brand story?

Every image we see stimulates the brain in a different way.  The shape, organization and color all affect our immediate perception of that image.  The problem with this statement is that colors do not have a universal effect on the brain for every person.

To say that green is calming, red is hyperactive, and yellow will make people run to the stores to buy your widget is truly folklore.  An individual’s upbringing, emotions, and neural programming are theirs and only theirs. 

So if people all react to different colors differently, how do we make informed decisions about which palette to use in our branding efforts?

This is a complex question, but I’d like to go back to the immutable factors of branding:

  • Brand Audience (Consumer) – Who are the customers and potential customers for your brand?  The way you market clothing to the hunting & fishing demographic is going to be different from the audience looking for formal wear.  Just remember that these people can cross over as well, and that when they are seeking hunting & fishing, they are not looking for an evening gown.  Color in this context is going to be relevant, based on needs and mood.  In a study called “The Interactive Effects of Colors”, researchers concluded that the relationship between color and brand hinged on how appropriate the color was with regard to the item being sold.  This proves that the perception of color is ever-changing, based on the scenario.  My wife would not appreciate wallpapering the kitchen in camouflage, but might not have an issue if I wallpapered camouflage in my basement-level man cave.
  • Brand Authority – How can color demonstrate brand authority?  Let’s go with the camouflage colors again.  Chances are that you won’t see a lot of that color palette on an advertisement for a law firm or CPA group.  Rather, you’re going to see richer colors, and colors that help build that brands authority.
  • Brand Promise – Camouflage palette again?  Maybe you have a brand selling hunting & fishing products.  The camouflage-colored clothing, branding and accessories are going to follow through on the brand promise, bolstering effectiveness of those products.
  • Differentiation –
    burger loungeOpening a fast food establishment?  Chances are you’re not going with the Burger King or McDonald’s color palette.  Your colors need to help set you apart from the pack, be memorable, and convey your brand story. On a recent trip to San Diego, I went to Burger Lounge.  The brand promise is a healthier alternative to the usual suspects.  Look at the colorations of their logo.  To me, this logo screams “organic” and is not overdone.  And the burgers, the atmosphere and the service all delivered on that promise.
  • Testing and Market Research – Branding is a complex game of balance.  The key is to balance what the consumer wants with the statement your brand is making.  It is critical to test your branding (images, copy, logo, design, color) to understand what messages your audience is taking away.  In this day of social media where everyone has a voice, it is imperative to strengthen that brand message.  Color is one simple way to evoke emotions, support the brand promise, and differentiate.  Use testing and market research to make better business and branding decisions.

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