Why the Right Packaging Is Crucial to Attracting Customer Attention

By Phillip Adcock
Last updated: Jan 8, 2023
Right Packaging

The best way to appeal to customers in-store is to draw their eye. Getting customers to notice your product is the first step to getting it into their basket. With shopper behaviour research, you can find out how your shoppers really feel about your packaging.

Your shoppers use all of their senses when they shop in-store, but the experience is heavily weighted towards the eyes. So how can you ensure that your packaging appeals to them?

It is often hard to change retail shopper behaviour, with customers mainly buying products that they have bought before. It is key to attract customers who are new to the category. For example, if a customer has recently dyed their hair, they may well be on the lookout for a different shampoo. If they are seeking out a new product, it is usually packaging that will help them to make the decision.

What Elements Are Important When Designing Packaging?

Customers are drawn towards better packaging. It gives the product the impression of being higher quality than other products. This is why customers tend to pick mid-range store-brand products over value-range store-brand products, even if the two have similar contents. The right packaging can increase customer sales but the wrong packaging can decrease them. By employing shopper research techniques before releasing your new packaging, you can increase your chance of success.

If you have an established brand and are looking to redesign your packaging, you should first discover what elements customers use to identify your product. If customers know that your product is in a triangular blue box with a silver logo, retaining some of these visual elements will stop customers from struggling to find your product. They will be more likely to recognise a box in the same shape and size and with the same logo but in different colours, than one that is entirely different. Logos are crucial for customer recognition, which is why when logos change, they tend to evolve gradually over the years.

Materials Are Important — and Can Win or Lose a Sale

The materials you use to package your product can be key in whether a customer makes a purchase or gives it a wide berth.

Firstly, are the materials you are using appropriate to the packaging? While novel packaging can have its uses, they can quickly wear thin if the shape doesn’t contribute to the function. If a product is packaged in materials that don’t seem appropriate to the product type, shoppers may avoid the product.

Also, what quality does the packaging need to be? As well as being attractive, it needs to withstand being transported to the store, stocked, handled by shoppers and transported home. A product that is easily damaged at any of these stages has a decreased likelihood of being bought, especially if one damaged product has the ability to affect others. Shoppers are unlikely to buy a fabric conditioner that is covered in fabric conditioner residue, even if the bottle they are considering is intact.

How Colouring Can Affect Your Packaging

It’s well known that colours affect our decisions. People are advised to avoid using red in the bedroom to promote peaceful sleep and use blues and greens for creative spaces. But how does this translate to packaging?

Many brands rely on a specific colour which is recognisable outside of the retail environment, such as the specific dark purple (Pantone 2685C) that consumers associate with Cadbury’s. Cadbury’s are currently fighting Nestle over the exclusive rights to that colour for that exact reason.

The colouring you use should relate both to your logo and the impression that you want to give of your brand. To get an idea of which colours are already present in the field, you can carry out in-store research, examining the colour schemes of your competitors. You can either choose to match these colours, reflecting them in your product design, or contrast with them. You also need to be aware of the cultural implications of some colours if you are intending to supply internationally. Red, for example, represents prosperity in China, but danger in the Middle East.

The more colours you use on your packaging, the less serious or basic the product. There is an elegance inherent in two-toned design, but it may not be appropriate in all circumstances. For example, parents don’t tend to look for elegance in the packaging of their children’s toys.

Different colours have different implications. The difference between using a white background and a black background is vast. A white background is more basic and safe, whereas black displays power and authority.

Different shades have different implications. Green, for example, is seen as an eco-colour but can also represent wealth. Blue is a colour for trust, whereas red is exciting — but also signifies good value.

Utilising Shelf-Ready Packaging to Increase Customer Interest in Your Product
If you want to increase customer interest in your product, there are many different elements to consider. The first thing you should think about is the outer packaging.

Your products reach the supermarket shelf in two layers of packaging: the product packaging itself and the shelf-ready packaging, which is a tray or box in which the product has been shipped. Shelf-ready packaging usually has perforations, meaning they can be transformed into a simple display stand. These stands change the look of a product, which can prompt a customer to engage with it, picking it up to examine it properly. A product that is in the consumer’s’ hand is already halfway to the basket.

Shelf-ready packaging appeals to supermarkets as it makes shelf stocking quicker and easier. It also allows you to dictate the manner in which your product is shown on the shelf.

Getting Packaging Quantity Right

Shoppers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, and with that comes a disdain for unnecessary over-packaging. If, for example, your fruit comes in a tray which is in a plastic box with a cardboard insert and a plastic wrapper, shoppers are less likely to find that acceptable. With the rise of packaging-free supermarkets, consumers are signalling that they want less packaging, not more.

On the other hand, you also need to make sure that your packaging is sufficient. While oranges can be sold unpackaged, the same is not true for cereal or laundry powder. Using materials that are too thin to package your product leads to easy breakage in transit before and after sales, meaning that customers will be lead to think that your product is cheaply produced and low quality.

If you’re thinking of making a change to the colour, size or material of your packaging or display, you should consider the impact that this will have on the shopper. Focus groups cannot be relied on to give the same views as genuine customers. This is where in-store shopper research techniques can help. For example, a cosmetics display may score highly with focus groups who have both hands free, but be unusable for shoppers who are laden with bags and baskets. By trialling new packaging and display techniques on real shoppers, you can find out what they really think of your new developments.

* Disclaimer: We do not buy, sell or provide service, we only share with you our trusted sources, and experience. In case of any changes in the products or services of the companies, all the information below is supposed to change at any time.

Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained (SBXL), a shopping research organization using psychological consumer insight to explain and help consumers answer their questions about stores and services.

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