Browsing your local supermarket aisle or high street chain, and you’ll see shelves overloaded with brands calling out to consumers to ‘pick me’ over the numerous other brands and products competing in their product category.
It’s been said that it takes seven seconds for consumers to make a purchasing decision, so first impressions matter when it comes to the packaging that encases the product on the supermarket shelf. Consumers will of course have historical loyalty to certain brands based on experiences and relationships developed over many years. For some it’s a certain brand that they’ve grown up with or they’ve always loved the taste, smell or quality of. For others, the cheapest will do, regardless of design – supermarket own brands are a great example of the latter – basic products in often simple, white packaging.
But what about new products or brands trying to make a name for themselves in this overcrowded marketplace? What do they need to do to make that initial impact? A huge amount of investment goes into product packaging design so a pack needs to deliver on its promise and engage and entice the target audience. And, while products are often designed in isolation, once produced, they will generally always be surrounded by other products competing for consumers’ attention, a factor that needs to be taken into account at the initial design stage. Today, most brands apply their deep understanding of the psychology of the consumer when designing product packaging and it’s not always bright and bold packaging that does the job, depending on the product and competitive products, sometimes simpler packaging with cleaner lines, branding and messaging can be more effective than packs using stronger, busier colours and design.
Yes, a great design will help attract the buyer, but once that decision has been made, the product also needs to be functional, work well and improve the customer experience. Packaging that fails to function properly, ensuring the customer can easily use, and in many cases now, reuse the packaging, can harm the consumer’s overall perception of both the product and the brand.
Sometimes rules have to be broken and with product design – that is an inherent part of the creative process. But, the packaging must still function and the product inside also live up to the brand promise made by the design and the message on the packaging. I’m a sucker for ‘out of the ordinary’ packaging, and have been known to buy a box of tissues for a premium price, just because the packaging has been created in the shape of an animal. But if the tissues inside weren’t up to the job, I’d go back to the boring square box that delivered a great product inside.
So, when it comes to packaging design whether it’s bold or simple, it needs to not only stand out, but also provide the necessary function to gain consumer trust and loyalty.