How 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
It 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.