A version of this article was originally published in Forbes on September 6th, 2018.
When designing a package for food and beverage, a beautiful design will always appeal to shoppers, but a great design needs to do more. It needs to inform and motivate a sale, particularly in the nanosecond of consideration online. Carefully considering these factors for both packaging refreshes and new packaging will enhance unique brand identity and cement consumer loyalty.
A recent study I took part in uncovered primary shopper attitudes from over 4,000 global shoppers, providing insights on desires for F&B packaging and the online shopping and return experience. These insights support fundamental objectives to drive the evolution of package design and shopper interaction with packaging.
The most important factor to consider is the absence of physical interaction before making a purchase online. While shoppers continue to get over this hurdle with growing online purchases, they still expect assurance that “what they see is what they get.” Almost two-thirds of study respondents expect products to look exactly as they find them in local retail. And more than half expect the online shopping cart image to exactly match what they receive. Only 9% would be truly satisfied with differences.
With the new dominance of omnichannel shopping, brand leaders must adapt to the speed and fluidity of today’s packaging value chain and start leveraging technology to deliver accurate and timely results.
For the food and beverage packaging designer, three fundamental considerations will improve their ability to achieve success in today’s shopping arena:
Design Fun And Practical Packaging
According to the study, shoppers most often associated “fun and engaging” with the categories on which they spend their disposable income, including beer, wine, ice cream, candy and juice. Creating engaging packaging that uniquely extends the brand experience and has functional efficacy is the goal of every smart designer.
Packaging that provides convenience — in the way it distributes the product, creates storage, or is used for carrying or on-the-go efficiency, or if it has multiple uses or functions — will always be memorably beneficial to the shopper. Packaging should always have a reliable and easy way to open, but adding a bit of ownable brand ritual to this experience will add brand value and equity. For example, when Heinz turned their ketchup bottle upside down in 2002, product sales increased 6%.
Consistency And Benefits First
Remember that online consumers get more of a one-dimensional experience with your package. As such, your brand cues and benefit call-outs must be clear and consistent. Delivering a fast, cohesive and informative experience builds online traction and customer loyalty.
If you’re in the midst of rebranding, consider introducing brand and packaging changes over time in an evolutionary approach. Back in 2009, Tropicana rebranded its orange juice, and the changes were so drastic that customers were confused, which impacted the brand’s overall performance. Ultimately, Tropicana went back to its original branding to win back its fan base.
Remain aware that launching a dramatic refresh could disrupt the trust you’ve already established. It is worth considering phased changes over a period of time, allowing you to update and freshen without losing brand trust.
Beyond brand cues, consumers always look for your product claims early on, which are salient in a competitive environment or when introducing line expansions. Make them as large as aesthetically possible.
Referral Beats Romance
Save your storytelling for your advertising or social media. On a package, romance or marketing copy statements can clutter design, are often too small to read and take up precious room that can be used more effectively. Instead, consider certifications or awards. According to the study, a recyclable package was the top packaging benefit, so make that prominent if pertinent.
Design carries a lot of influence on shoppers’ purchasing decisions online or in store. The study noted that 38% of shoppers purchased a new product because they enjoyed the packaging, and there was a strong preference for simple and easy packaging. As designers, we can play a powerful role in the success of any product if we understand what will make a meaningful impact on its consumer.
The true “omnichannel” package will be engaging, easy to identify and even easier to read. This will help any food and beverage brand to quickly connect with shoppers and elevate the brand experience.
Randy Herbertson is the Principal of The Visual Brand, a creative director, brand strategist and insight specialist, with a passion for young talent development.