Do You Need New Retail Packaging?

Is your product’s packaging helping make a sale? Or limiting connecting with potential customers?

With no shortage of products to choose from, retail packaging is one of the best ways to break through the noise and to attract and retain consumers’ attention. Nailing the details of how your products are packaged is a powerful customer experience tactic to experiment with to sustain the attention of your target audience time and again.

Put simply, we believe retail packaging is a brand’s most important brand statement. It’s the first — and maybe last — chance to convince your target audience to buy your product.

Find out what criteria to use to evaluate your current product packaging, which factors to consider when updating the packaging, and what goals to have in mind throughout the packaging process. These are the most common reasons why brands create new retail packaging.

Your product looks just like every other product of its kind.

If your product blends in with others like it on the shelf, rather than standing out, the opportunity to make a bold differentiating statement and connect with your consumers passes by. This is an easy litmus test to see if you need to try a different approach.

Product packaging offers fresh real estate to showcase not only it’s unique value propositions but also an area to express a brand’s personality.

When we work with clients in similar positions we first consider

  • Shaking up the color palette to something bold and grabbing. For example, if every other brand in your space uses royal blue and bright white, a contrasting palette will ensure your product shines brighter than the rest on the self, quite literally.
  • Illustrative visuals versus photographic. A lot of brands lean on user generated photography. A way to break through the norm here is trying a different artistic approach in visuals -- consider beautiful illustrative ingredients that embody the nuances of your brand in ways photography cannot.
  • Add flare and wit to your messaging. TFW someone overdresses to a restaurant is the same as when a brand takes themselves too seriously. Try to craft a brand narrative that takes consumers by surprise by incorporating wit -- of course, do so within the ramifications of your brand guidelines! Doing so not only helps connect your product better to its target audience, but shows off the intelligence of your brand.
  • Try a new packaging vessel. Products tend to stand out when the vessel itself shapes, quite literally, the experience of unboxing it. Is it easy to open? Can you do so by hand or do you need scissors? Is the vessel itself worth keeping after the product is taken out? Vessels often taut on a brand's commitment toward eliminating unnecessary waste, an original way to upcycle used materials, or an entirely new way of presenting a product in a thoughtful and utilitarian, yet creative, way.

TL;DR: if your packaging is generic, no one will remember it.

Example: Schnibs Pretzels

The local artisans behind Schnibs Pretzels came to us with this exact challenge. In a world of overused pretzel icons and craft paper packaging, they were ready to step up their retail packaging game and make some design and aesthetic changes.

It’s not clear what you’re selling.

If it’s unclear how to use your product, people won’t buy it. If you’re selling a disruptive or new product, how it’s packaged can be used to educate and clearly communicate its differences.

Explain what the product is, what it’s for, and how the hell you’re supposed to use it. Sometimes we find ourselves too close to something, the meaning and purpose get lost; keep it simple. Give consumers enough context and even a little inspiration so they can see it fitting into their lifestyle and become eager to give it a try.

Example: BeanSmash!

BeanSmash!, the first of-its-kind easy-to-make, portable, high-protein, bean and spice snack entered the market earlier this year. Given the brand's market newness, the retail packaging highlights what it is (a snack or dip), visually queues usage with on-package product photography, and uses the brand tone and voice style to explain some examples of how to eat it.

Your visual identity is outdated.

It’s common that when brands have been around for a bit, they reach a point when they realize their branding feels a little meh. A lot of times, for smaller brands and startups, visual identity is treated as a one-and-done to-do list item or is thrown together once without much thought at company inception.

Just as important as having a relevant product, the retail packaging should evolve accordingly. If you find your visuals are too old school and not in the TBT kind of way, there’s a good chance you’ve grown, expanded, and evolved, but your visual identity is stuck in the past.

Example: CW Hemp

In the world of CBD supplements, for example, cannabis brands used to be able to get away with subpar branding and packaging design. Due to the emerging cannabis industry and market, the benchmark was low as were consumer expectations.

But, that’s not the case anymore. Brands like CW Hemp are modernizing their narrative as their products scale and head toward a mainstream, mass appeal.

If you find your brand stagnating in yesteryear, the risk of it being perceived as homegrown or immature becomes very real, very fast. Don’t fall into this trap!

You’re not telling the brand story.

What is your story? When you only have the consumer’s attention for a handful of seconds (think Instagram story or Snapchat short) your brand story needs to come across in a clear, cohesive fashion with all parts working together in harmony.

Every brand asset from the logo and imagery to messaging and retail packaging should be consistent, concise, and action inspiring. A brand story could explain the process of sourcing fresh, natural ingredients, or how the company leading the movement on sustainability with it’s eco-friendly efforts.

Find that narrative thread that is unique to your brand, and tell it in a way that creates connection, drives emotion, and inspires action.

Example: Space Food Sticks

For a brand like Space Food Sticks, their story is rooted from the early years of America’s space exploration. Since the era in and of itself welcomes a now throwback allurement, the beloved astro-snack brand’s visual and messaging needed to work in concert to create a recognizable 1960s look and feel.

By modernizing the brand’s messaging and visuals to attract today’s consumers, Space Food Sticks retail packaging encapsulates the 1960s vibe of the U.S. space program while satisfying the cravings and nostalgia of longtime brand loyalists.

If any of these reasons resonate with you brand, it’s likely time to revise your retail packaging strategy.

Use these four checkpoints as your litmus test to gauge the effectiveness of your retail packaging

  • Looks unique from the competition
  • Is clear and concise about what you’re selling
  • Has a fresh, modern brand packaging system
  • Tells your brand story