Trends in Food Package Design

Trends In Food Package Design
Corporate Blog
Published October 2014.

According to a recent POPAI (Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute) survey, 76% of consumers make their brand decisions in the store; an increase of six percentage points from the last study in 1995. This increase is fascinating in light of the impact technology is having on the shopper journey. Smartphones, apps and other technologies have changed the way consumers learn about products. One would think that the plethora of information available to consumers would mitigate the importance of the in-store experience. But as the data indicates, more people are making brand decisions at the point of purchase, thus increasing the pressure on brand to optimize their food package design.

Regardless of the industry you’re in, packaging is a crucial element in your brand strategy. But if you are competing in retail, especially grocery retails, packaging can be a make or break proposition. Considering that the average grocery store carries more than 40,000 items, food package design and labeling serve several strategic roles:

Reinforces your brand positioning. Effective design can and should create a strong brand image in the minds of the shopper.
Differentiate your brand from the competition. Here, packaging serves two functions. First, it attracts non-users to your shelf position. But, perhaps more importantly, it hopefully prevents your core users from jumping ship to your closest competitors.
Close the deal. Great package design includes the most relevant information and, perhaps even unique offers/calls-to-action, that will help push the consumer to pull your brand off the shelf.

Again, imagine the average consumer strolling up and down the grocery aisles-taking in over 40,000 different product offerings. How effective is your packaging at bringing your brand to life and compel the shopper to choose your brand over those on either side of you.

Grocery is a $600 billion industry. To get a bigger share of the pie, your brand needs to make that first impression count. Here are a few rules to guide you in developing package design that will give you a competitive edge at POP:

Keep it simple. You may have the urge to include as much information as possible on your packaging. But consider this: the average consumer will dedicate about four seconds to scanning a package. A recent post by 99 Designs says “your packaging should ask two simple questions: What’s the product and what’s the brand behind the product? You don’t need to include a long list of features and benefits-you aren’t printing a brochure. Simple is best.
Keep it consistent…and honest: Many grocery brands create on-package imagery that stretches the truth about what’s inside the package. This can be tempting, but it’s ultimately short-sighted. Be realistic about what you product is about so that you don’t build expectations that cannot be fulfilled.
Be authentic: Create packaging that is dynamic, yet true to your brand. Of course, you need to stand out. But consider your competition in designing your package. If they’re using original product photography, perhaps you go with an illustration. Be bold and different-but also real.
Create impact: Your brand is sitting among hundreds of competitive items in endless vertical and horizontal rows. The degree to which you can create distinctive and appealing packaging will go a long way towards delivering the impact that will set you apart.
Design for extendibility: Your product design should allow for future line extensions. Let’s say you are introducing a new line of apple juices. Is your packaging dictated by apple images or is it flexible enough to adapt to grape juice a few years down the road.

One final thought here: invest in consumer testing to assess the potential impact of your package design. Explore both quantitative and qualitative (focus group) testing options. There is too much at stake to use your gut on package design decisions.

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