The food retail industry accounts for nearly $600 billion in the US alone. If we account for the market sizes in countries like India and China, the numbers will increase by at least 3-5 times. Getting the packaging right for the products is critical for every business. After all, it is the packaging that serves as the best form of in-store visual communication for the consumers that can help retain old customers and convert new ones. So what are the do’s and dont’s of food package designing that can make all the difference for a brand? Let’s find out.
Simplicity is never overrated
The average shopper has an attention span of about 4-seconds while browsing through products on the store shelf. Can your product packaging capture their attention in that short span of time? If you get it right, yes, it can.
In a store, when your consumer is likely to be bombarded with multiple choices from your competitors, using a label that offers both form and function, and delivers the right amount of product details to the consumers for them to make an informed choice in favor of your product becomes critical for your product’s success.
Don’t go overboard with graphics, fonts or even minimalism in your packaging. Remember, the primary objective is to attract consumers to your product and help them make an informed decision, and not make a style statement on the store shelf.
Honesty and dependability
When you’re selling processed fruit juices loaded with preservatives, sugar and some percentage of fruit pulp, and your product packaging says that it is fresh fruit juice, that’s misleading the consumers into thinking they’re buying something that they really aren’t.
While this is an extreme case, staying honest with the consumers can go a long way in earning their respect and brand loyalty. Your product packaging is the medium that communicates this honesty to them. Honest product packaging lends a dependability to the product and works as a key differentiator on the store shelves.
The in-store experience is all about visual communications with the consumers. However, inside a store, your product will not be alone on the shelves. It has to compete with other products for consumer’s attention. The products on the store shelves are always arranged in rows and columns, add to that the distance from the shelves and the relevance of package design become clear.
Test your product packaging by placing it on a shelf with other similar products to check for the visual impact it has on the consumers. The results will surprise you. It is often seen that the most intricate designs get lost on the shelf while the most simple ones pop-out. This simple test can help you get past this hurdle and ensure that your product registers the sales as per your expectations.
Always keep one eye on the future. You may not have any immediate plans to introduce a new variation in your product line, but that doesn’t mean that your plans won’t change sometime in the future.
Product packaging design should leave future options open and allow you to scale your product line without having to invest heavily in new packaging design. If you sell jams and you decide to add a few more flavors to your product line, you shouldn’t have to reinvent your brand all over again. Moreover, this will allow you to retain consistency in your brand presence across your product line and add to the visual impact on the store shelves for your brand.
Practicality and sustainability in packaging
In the race to look distinctive with design elements like patterns, graphics and fonts in product packaging, don’t forget that the most critical function of the packaging is to preserve the food. Perishable items, in particular, need to be shipped and stored in packaging that allows longer shelf life of the product. The tried and tested design elements are always the safest bet for any product category. However, ‘tried and tested’ leaves no room for innovation, and the fact is that there is plenty of room for innovation while keeping practicality of the product packaging in mind.
Milk, for example, has been distributed to consumers in glass bottles for many decades with limited shelf life and preservation capacity. But tetra packs changed that, giving milk producers a chance to preserve their product for longer and distribute it to consumers in a wider market.
Moreover, advances in packaging materials mean that you have more choices than ever in selecting the right components for use in package design other than the traditional plastics, glass, aluminum, and cardboard. Sustainable packaging materials are no longer just buzzwords for the industry. Not only do they offer an improved shelf life of products, but also ensure better returns on investment, eliminate the possibility of toxicity, and help reduce your carbon footprint.
Product packaging is the closest interaction between your brand and your consumers. It is the last line of communication with the consumer, your last chance to convince them to choose your product over your competitor’s. So it wouldn’t be wrong to say that any product packaging design needs to be executed carefully with the target audience in mind. When your packaging can clearly communicate to the consumers, you’ll have a winning product in your portfolio.