How to Make Packaging that Drives Sales

April 20, 2015

Packaging doesn't just contain a product so that it can make it safely from the manufacturer to the store and then to the customer. It's one of the most effective marketing tools there is. At the point of sale, great packaging can make the difference between being chosen or losing a sale to a competitor. Research shows that packaging has a significant impact on the final decision, so how do you create packaging that drives sales?

Make it visible

According to findings from PRS Research conducted in collaboration with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, increasing shelf visibility is the primary way to grow sales. An even more powerful indicator of purchase is achieving a second look at the product, which was gauged using eye-tracking methods from PRS. But what exactly creates visibility? According to PRS, it has to do with differentiating yourself from competitors visually. The best way to do this is to create secondary packaging that is radically different in size and appearance from other products nearby.

However, this doesn't just need to include the carton and label. As Packaging World puts it, manufacturers need to use all surface area to make sure the packaging communicates from every angle. Think about retail ready packaging as part of the stage. It's not just a box that transports individual packages to the shelf. Packaging World noted that when Fair Liquid detergent brand redesigned its shelf-ready packaging for greater brand visibility, it increased sales 4 percent across Europe.

According to Smither's Pira, there's a growing demand for retail-ready packaging that drives purchases at the point of sale and provide brand appeal. The research organization suggested that it provides an opportunity for corrugated converters to work with print specialists to develop more interactive marketing in this area.

What do customers want?

Before designing a product or redesigning packaging for an established product, think about what consumers are looking for. As Dairy Foods pointed out in an article about dairy packaging, in the past, most manufacturers leaned on the positioning of milk as a healthy part of a balanced diet. With the rise of alternatives like soy and almond, this approach is no longer as effective. Instead, customers are concerned more specific health information. Customers are also more concerned about where food comes from. The brand is no longer enough; it needs to be supported with details that interest consumers.

Sometimes what consumers want is simply a change. When manufacturers make changes to packaging, it signifies to customers that the company is forward-thinking and evolves with the times.

Connect to external strategy

Packaging, while it is the last customer touch point, needs to be connected to an overall brand strategy. At its most effective, packaging ties into an overall marketing campaign. These days, this often means connecting to digital channels, like social media. For instance, in its "Share a Coke" campaign, Coca-Cola used its labels to encourage social sharing. There are other ways to accomplish something similar. For instance, many brands use QR codes or even augmented reality to connect their products directly to the digital space.

Develop packaging along with product

A lengthy packaging design and development process can often throw a wrench in time to market. Unfortunately, revenue suffers when products don't go to market quickly enough. When manufacturers are developing a new product, start developing the packaging at the same time, rather than waiting until the last minute. As a key component of the final product, the packaging shouldn't be a last-ditch effort. Developing the packaging alongside the product itself gives you ample time to fix any final errors and ensure everything is compliant with relevant regulations.

As SKUs continue to proliferate, especially in the rapidly growing Natural Health market, manufacturers need to place more emphasis on packaging. While overall branding and marketing are important elements to sales, the final of point of purchase often makes the biggest difference. You have less than a second to win customers over. You need to work with a packaging vendor with the resources to make your products stand out on the shelf.

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