The Importance of Design in Product Packaging


The Importance of Design in Product Packaging

The failure rate of new consumer products is as high as 80%, says world-renowned marketing guru Dr. Philip Kotler.

According to PRNewswire, nearly 1900 new consumer packaged goods brands hit U.S. store shelves from 2011 and 2012. If that 80% failure rate holds true, less than 400 of them will survive. So, how does a product stay on (better yet, fly off) shelves?

Visuals play a massive role in marketing. What do you do when you’re at the grocery store? You scan the aisles looking for familiar items, occasionally picking up new items that catch your eyes. The importance of design in product packaging is undeniable.

Eye tracking studies like this one conducted by research company Tobii demonstrate the psychology behind package design. Here is an example of a package redesign that sparked a 15% sales increase:

The heat maps of where consumers’ eyes went show that the original design was a little too leafy; all anyone really saw was the word “Mesclun” and some Mesclun. The redesign, however, drew more eyes to a wider area, a vertical banner label containing visuals. Exact same product. Different package design. 15% difference in sales.

For established brands, packaging serves as instant identification. Their only challenge is innovating along the latest consumer trends while keeping that recognition. Check out the variation of Heinz ketchup’s packaging:

Each redesign is innovative yet still true to the classic Heinz label (which, by the way, is very similar to the successful Mesclun label shown earlier – Uniquely shaped, text-oriented, with a few engaging visuals.)

For competing brands without that iconic presence, the challenge is grabbing consumers’ eyes and drawing them out of their comfort zone. For example, here’s a case of Pellegrino:

Now, here’s a case of La Croix, a Wisconsin-based sparkling water company:

Enticing, right? Yet pretty simple content-wise – “Pure Sparkling Water” – All you need to know.

Brand packaging isn’t just protective and informative; it’s a strategic art that involves manipulation of the human mind through visuals. We’ll be talking much more about the psychology of design in future posts. For now, though, think of the last new product you tried – What made you pick it up in the store?