Repackage The Way You Think About Package Design

Posted by Roger Peterson

June 10, 2014

Package Design Trends

A smart redesign can maximize message impact and space efficiency

As shoppers, we’re creatures of habit. When it comes to our favorite products, we gravitate toward the familiar because it eases the shopping process. So when I grabbed the recently updated Dean’s cottage cheese container out of the grocery display case the other day, I was taken aback by the sleek new rectangular design. Cottage cheese, sour cream, spreads and other dairy products are always in a circular tub. Right?

Although I consider myself a bit of a progressive thinker, especially when it comes to marketing innovations, I have to admit that I was uncomfortable with the new shape and grip of the Dean’s package. Humans don’t like change, and I was no different.My more cynical reaction was that it looked smaller. The lower profile of the package made it appear as though Dean’s was removing a few ounces of the product and still charging the same price. Those sneaky marketers! But I compared the volumes, and the cost per ounce was unchanged.

In a matter of a day or two, I started to breathe easier, and even embraced the change. I realized that the design was superior in just about every way.

From the consumer’s perspective, it fits better in a cluttered fridge, it stacks easier and the curved edges on the bottom of the container allow for easier “scoopability,” as the marketing geniuses at Dean’s have slyly (and appropriately) called it.

From the manufacturer’s perspective, the advantages are even more numerous. The rectangular design almost ensures that the front panel will be facing outward toward the shopper, while traditional round designs are often twisted from the ideal consumer-facing position, wasting value opportunities to showcase the brand and key product attributes.

And, perhaps most importantly, the low-profile, compact shape results in less negative space in the shipping container and at retail. This makes the product less costly to ship and more efficient to display at the point of purchase, improving the revenue per square foot of shelf space.

These kinds of personal shopping experiences – mini case studies, if you will – serve as a wake-up call for merchandising-oriented marketers like us.

The key lesson? Don’t fall in love with your current design and don’t accept the status quo. Look at the architecture of your package designs and attempt to analyze them as honestly as possible.

Getting objective, insightful research input from your target shoppers is always a good place to start your evaluation. A package redesign effort can be a significant undertaking that affectsthe entire organization – from materials procurement and factory operations on through the supply chain. But if the cost-to-benefit analysis shows greater cost efficiencies and stronger consumer appeal resulting in a payoff in a “reasonable” timeframe, then it may be an important next step in protecting and growing your market position.

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Topics: Packaging