By Jeff Michon, Managing Director of Michon
Consumers are more savvy than ever when it comes to products vying for their attention. With products today marketed in a variety of innovative media such as Web 2.0 and social networking sites, product advertising is reaching the consumer through more widespread and interesting channels.
This said, one of the most competitive environments to attract customer attention is still in-store.
Shelves are filled with competing brands all trying to convey messages and grab attention with their packaging visuals. Brand-loyal consumers who seek favoured products or consumers that want the latest goods, quickly filter out a large majority of products with a visual scan of the shelves.
Packaging has to compete for a potential customer’s attention in a short space of time and without complex advertising, which makes it increasingly challenging. When sales are struggling, a brand’s values aren’t attracting new consumers and an element of this can be attributed to packaging.
Don’t slip into stagnation
Established brands tend to remain in a comfort zone, sticking to what they know. This is particularly the case in a fixed or niche product range that has been around for a while, using the same promotions year on year. In this instance, products become dated and customers will get this perception. It’s essential that a brand’s image and packaging is constantly reviewed, kept up to date and relevant to its target audience so as not to slip into stagnation and ensure continual sales growth.
Unfortunately, examples of dated, ineffective packaging designs are still common. Packaging designed five years ago will struggle to attract attention ahead of more modern competition.
This is often the case in markets where competition is limited, such as DIY. Take wood dyes for example; very few brands compete in this area and new products are rarely launched, therefore packaging is updated infrequently.
Time to revitalise
The best way for you to grab the attention of consumers in-store is to revitalise packaging. Marketers can present the product with a new feel, graphic design or package form, to help catch the eye of existing customers, and open the product up to new audiences. However, be careful not to redesign the product too radically as this can erase positive brand equity with loyal customers.
A packaging revamp should be considered every two to three years and in sectors which launch new products regularly, such as the soft drinks market or other Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), packaging should be refreshed more frequently and generally is.
Know your competitors
In-store product placement can heavily influence package design, so it is important to note where the product is located amongst its competitors. In sectors where it is rare to see new entrants to the industry, a packaging refresh might put a product ahead of the competition, whereas in an FMCG market such as toilet rolls or pasta sauce, a redesign might simply keep products on a level playing field with developing competitors. Marketers need to be aware of this and keep a watchful eye on competitors to ensure they can stay one step ahead.
Another common oversight when a product’s packaging design has remained unchanged and left for a length of time are the demographics for the product itself. To go back to a DIY example, ten years ago, such products were almost solely aimed at men, whereas today, women purchase nearly as many goods in this sector.
If packaging hasn’t been updated for a considerable length of time and sales are slow, the target audience may have changed and a product’s design should reflect this.
Stay on message
An essential element when refreshing packaging is the copy. Taking into account any changes in audience, the packaging’s copy needs to be on message and up to date. Has there been a change in legislation? Perhaps a product achieves a certificate of industry compliance? If so, this should be communicated to consumers.
A design refresh can provide a much-needed spark to compete with other companies, without alienating or confusing the current customer base. Marketers should ensure that packaging is in-line with brand values, target audience and key messaging to ensure consistent brand strategy, as well as grabbing customer attention.
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