Packaging has to communicate in a heartbeat

In recent months I have noticed the number of new packaging designs for CPG products that focuses on style over substance. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but what is telling is the lack of connection between the product in the box and message outside the box.

What strikes me most about packaging design today is not the eyes attracted to the beautiful stylish packaging, but that product that often sits above a reduced price sticker.

Should brands re-imagined the two primary objectives that packaging delivers? Are the days of using packaging to show the world creative or technical prowess over?

Shelf space is expensive and packaging has a responsibility to catch the shoppers eye. And let’s not forget that packaging has to meet tougher supply chain and legislative requirements. 

Environmental conditions also play an important part in the package design process as we protect content contained in a durable and portable vessel that includes the relevant marketing and nutritional messages.

If the packaging has the potential to influence consumers perceptions of the product, its value should the mirror the contextual influences affecting the design of the packing.  If it’s tea inside, the packaging should sell tea in the outside. If it doesn’t do the former where does design meet product relevance?

Is it time to have a more holistic perspective and understanding value design can offer CPG products? Today’s design is exciting, tantalising and inspiring but maybe we are losing sight of consumer appeal. To often the shopper is left out of the equation with design decisions and design value being lost in a sea of project communications aimed at the stakeholders that don’t include the end-users. 

Far too often consumer lead research fails to fully explore packaging management and packaging designs important to a core part of NPD.

There are 40,000 product lines available in UK retailers today, this includes thousands of New Product Developments each year. Each NPD requires substantial amounts of design effort. (Nancarrow, Wright, & Brace, 1998; Vazquez, Bruce, & Studd, 2003)

The NPD failure rate is high with consumers only buying 0.7% of products available to them yearly. (Simmonds & Spence, 2017). Increased NPD competition between CPG products has required companies to devise strategies to compete; hence, the modification of visual appeal and communication of brand intent through packaging design. 

Not only can packaging enhance commercial success for the consumer products; but, the influence packaging has on consumer cognitive processes is of great interest to corporations such as the Food and Drug Administration and public policy establishments (Underwood & Ozanne, 1998). 

Approximately 68% of FMCG retail purchases are unplanned, with 90% of consumers only observing the front of a package before making a choice (Stahlberg & Maila, 2012). 

In addition, 85% of products are chosen by a consumer whilst instore. (Clement et al., 2015). We know that consumers frequently make purchase decisions influenced by a product’s visual appearance.

This is key as consumer decisions are made in quick succession. Less than eight seconds are spent in evaluating, analysing, and determining a purchase (De Chernatony & McDonald, 1992).

Packaging has to communicate clearly to the consumer in a heartbeat. An impulse purchase is not just a checkout occasion. The consumer has grown up with ‘now.’ Isn’t it about time package reflected that buyer behaviour?