What does successful packaging look like in today’s retail market?

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What does successful packaging look like in today’s retail market?

Market Insights

What does successful packaging look like in today’s retail market?


Bemis® sat down with packaging expert Simon Preece of Elmwood to learn the ins and outs of what product packaging must do.

Shoppers rely on their instincts. According to Simon Preece, shoppers are emotional buyers shopping intuitively, on colour, shape and familiarity of location and packaging plays a crucial role in leveraging that emotion. Ultimately it is all about how a brand makes you feel and packaging is the biggest weapon to influence shoppers in the last six feet to purchase. To do this successfully it must do four things to consumers, stand out and disrupt make them take notice, intrigue emotionally and call to them, appeal aesthetically, and reassure, make sense rationally and emotionally. If you can achieve this with your packaging and physical structure you will close the sale and connect the consumer to the brand on a more powerful emotional level. Put a shopper in a crowded marketplace with a wide variety of competing brands, and they are going to pick what they know, what they are familiar with unless you can crash their auto pilot.

To do this brands can use Biomotive Triggers to help create the right emotional feeling from the brand. *Biomotive Triggers® are radical sensory marketing techniques, developed by Elmwood in collaboration with Bradford University School of Management. In effect, we’ve been using the principles of neuroscience to understand how primal responses to external stimuli can be used to trigger action in consumers. In effect they decode how the reptilian part of our brain responds to visual and other stimulus to help create the emotions, feelings and response actions that brands want. As we are all hard-wired at an instinctive level to respond to certain stimulus and these responses can be used to prompt action in consumers. In essence they are sensory cues that affect our subconscious, generating emotion and action before the conscious part of our brain can respond – think like our fight-or-flight response works when we sense danger.

Brands that use these triggers, brands can stand out on retail shelves and end up in more shopping carts, and can help maximise consumer interest at that crucial moment of product choice in store. Sounds simple, right? But, of course, it’s much more complicated than that. Simon breaks it down to four key elements…

Tell your brand’s story

The first step in designing a package that will draw in the consumer is communicating the story unique to the brand. Focusing on your authenticity will get shoppers to gravitate towards your brand’s message and, most importantly, create one that other companies can’t imitate.  “People can always copy your products, but if you know what your distinct point-of-view on the world is, i.e. the thing that makes you different, and you deliver it with an ‘authentic attitude‘, i.e. your behavioural characteristics  are expressed in a unique and ownable way,’ people can’t copy that,” said Preece. “That’s what resonates with shoppers and make winning brands.”

Expressing a brand’s point-of-view using simple designs, colour associations, relevant selling points, and unique assets that set it apart from the competition all contribute to the authentic story of a product. Without authenticity, shoppers will not feel a deep emotional connection to the brand and will reach for another product.

Emotions matter

In partnership with authenticity, emotional connections to a brand are an essential element in a good package design. 

“The success of a product or a brand depends on how you make the consumer feel - do you create the emotions that represent what your brand and product stands for?” said Preece. By focusing on how a consumer emotionally connects and feels about a product when designing or choosing a package, products establish a brand experience that customers want to buy into and make part of their identity. The sooner a brand recognises what the everyday consumer wants to feel about and what they need from their product, whether it’s ease of use, superior quality, functionality, etc., the sooner it will become a market leader. 

Solve a problem

Establishing that market leadership, however, is easier said than done. That’s why it is extremely important to find the problem a consumer needs resolved before focusing on the general demographic. 

Take fish and seafood processors, for example. Those who understand that shoppers are hesitant to buy fish because of simple reasons. A 2015 consumer study by Seafish Authority has shown that shoppers had this to say about fish and seafood. “Don’t like the smell or touch or bones.” “Don’t know how to prepare it for cooking.” Now processors who understand these concerns and deliver packaging solutions that help resolve these issues will win.  One way may be by creating ownable packaging solutions that can go straight from shelf to oven without fuss, smell, or mess (think OvenRite®) Even novice seafood chefs can easily shop for and prepare a fresh cut of fish. By solving the functionality issue of cooking seafood with an ownable design, the product appeals to shoppers’ needs and ultimately increases revenue got producers.

Once a brand taps into the problem of their consumer, they can develop a package that caters to the correct demographic. “The insight lies in what the consumer needs, not what the biggest demographic it appeals to,” said Preece. “What is the consumer challenge and need that I’m overcoming? If I overcome it in the most appealing and rational way, then that’s what will be successful.”

Sell more than a great product

Today, brands not only have to solve their customers’ problems, but also have to communicate their message through product packaging succinctly and in a way which attracts more shoppers to survive in the market.

Ultimately, if a brand can establish itself in an authentic way that appeals to the emotions of their customers, they will be successful. 

“There are thousands and thousands of products out there. Having a great product is not enough. You have to have a clear reason for being with the consumer…and present it as an engaging brand experience,” said Preece.  “You’ve got to work really hard to get in the repertoire of products. You can only do that by aligning your brand values with that of the shoppers.”

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