Supermarket shelves are packed to the rafters with thousands of products all eagerly vying for the limited attention of shoppers, huge e-commerce sites contain many more only a few clicks away and branded advertising is slowly creeping into nearly aspect of people’s lives.
How is an individual, wandering through this noisy and crowded marketplace with a pocket full of money and a vague idea of what they want, supposed to choose between all of the different options that are available to them?
There are a number of factors that lead an individual to choose a certain product, but one of the most important of these factors is product packaging.
Every so often a product will have such eye-catching or innovative packaging that causes everyone that passes by decides to stop and take a look.
While there is no doubt that introducing an innovative product package might lead to more head-turning from consumers, is this strategy going to create any extra value for you and your brand? Or is it simply going to be a temporary distraction for people who will then get back to their day?
Should you be putting your time and effort into trying to come up with an innovative packaging design?
The value of innovation
Innovation does not always automatically lead to extra value being added to your products or your brand. There are some designs that while novel don’t appeal to customers, either because they do not add anything useful or exciting to the design.
A good example of when continued innovation has not equated to value is the mousetrap market. Hundreds of patent applications for new and inventive mousetrap designs being filed every year, customers still universally decide to go for the simple snapping design that we all know and love from old cartoons. So, when it comes to mousetraps, years of design innovation have not directly equated to an increase in value for the parties involved.
So what makes an innovation in packaging directly translate into increased sales and more value for your company?
There is no set formula when it comes to ensuring that brand imaging continues to evolve and whether or not it will cause more people to buy it. What works for you will depend completely on your target market section and demographic as well as your core brand message.
A successful package innovation can directly translate into increased value in a number of ways:
• Your brand is now set apart from the competition
• The perceived value of your product in the eyes of consumers, retailers and advertising is increased
• Casual consumers now have a reason to choose your product over others
All of these factors will tend to lead to an increase in profitability, at least in the short term.
The effect of product packaging on consumers
The success of a piece of product packaging is going to largely depend upon how consumers interact with it. There are a number of interesting factors related to consumer psychology that are in play when an individual comes into contact with a piece of packaging, and there are tens of millions of dollars being poured annually into the search for the magic formula.
With regards to the introduction of a new packaging innovation, there are two core aspects of consumer psychology to keep in mind.
Valuable innovation leads to a better experience for consumers
The vast majority of consumers are not going to care about your product packaging on a purely aesthetic or design level. While some consumers may be buying products for the way the packaging looks, but they are likely to be the minority so you are going to need to make sure that your new packaging improves their experience with the product in some way.
This list of product innovations for mass produced beer perfectly demonstrates the point that consumers will respond to product packaging if it is useful to them in some way. This article was written in 2011 and it is an interesting experiment to see how many of these innovations stuck.
Another consideration to bear in mind is the essential conservatism of consumers when it comes to certain products. People are strange in that they tend to want innovation and breakthroughs but they also want what they know is going to work.
Is your new product packaging innovation moving too far away from what people know and trust? How much change is good and how much is going to put people off buying your product?
Aiming for innovation
So with all of this in mind, the problem is still how are you actually going to go about actually creating a packaging innovation?
You need to drill right down to what your core message and what your core value is to consumers and design your new set of packaging around the idea trying to emphasis this two elements.
If you and your company manage to successfully institute a packaging innovation for one or all of your products the rewards can be potentially huge. Your product could stand out head and shoulders above the rest, becoming associated with innovation and quality in the minds of consumers and opening up a myriad of new potential paths for your company to take.
Do you have any great examples of successful and valuable packaging innovation?