Nov 16, 2016

6 Ways to Make Your Packaging Stand Out on Shelves and Online

The struggle consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands face in the retail world is real. Assuming they win shelf space in stores, there is still the matter of capturing the consumer’s attention among a growing number of choices.
According to research from the Food Marketing Institute, in the mid ‘70s, the typical supermarket featured less than 9,000 products. Today, that number is closer to 45,000 different items.
It’s not just grocery, and it’s not just the retail environment where brands are battling to get noticed while consumers are bombarded with options. There are more choices everywhere you look, and online shopping adds yet another factor full of distractions.
Whether they’re strolling through a store or surfing the web, packaging is often the first thing a consumer notices and examines as they shop. Here are six ways the right packaging can be the difference between getting passed up and getting placed in the shopping cart.

1. Be the Odd One Out

It should be obvious that being different is one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd. However, this often means taking risks and going against the norm, which is not always an easy move to make.
Doing something surprising can start with your packaging. Let’s say you have a feminine product that will be placed on store shelves in a sea of pink boxes. What could happen if you made a bold move and chose something else, like a striking black package?
If the competition is using plastic bottles, get noticed by putting your product in cans, cartons, or a standup pouch. Unexpected packaging helps your product portray originality.
Brands that really want to generate a buzz with their packaging need to be brave enough to try something new and even break a few rules.

2. Keep it Simple

Since everyone else may be trying to grab a shopper’s attention by being brighter, louder, and flashier, why not be different by going the opposite direction?
Minimalistic packaging designs with subtler graphics are a popular trend because shoppers appreciate seeing something less noisy on the store shelf. Certain materials can convey the aesthetic of a natural or artisanal product. Other packages can evoke a sense of nostalgia. Simpler packaging makes people remember simpler times.
If it fits with your brand, you could use kraft paper or a similar material. Consider limiting the color palette when designing package graphics, or choosing simple, transparent packaging, which lets the shopper see what’s inside and makes your product the focus.

3. Help Shoppers Make Decisions

Packaging designers can also keep things simple by reducing the marketing messages used in the graphics.
It’s tempting to use as much space as you can to tout the features and benefits your product is offering. The problem is, it’s easy for those messages to get overlooked on shelves full of packaging that’s advertising the same promises as your product.
Cramming too many marketing messages onto a package does little to help sell your product in an ecommerce setting. It’s likely the online shopper won’t be able to read most of that text. However, choosing the most important aspect to highlight graphically will be more noticeable and could point them towards something they missed in the web page’s product description.
By honing in on one specific benefit your product has to offer, you can provide the consumer with clarity, especially if it’s something they care about and are actually trying to find.
As packaging designers David and Nancy Deal point out in an article for, less messaging makes decision-making easier.
“The onslaught of packages screaming for attention and the visual bombardment by point-of-purchase displays means the average shopper will only give your product two seconds of attention before their gaze is seduced by a neighboring product on the shelf. In that short amount of time, its critical to deliver your product’s unique benefits and why-to-buy statement.”

4. Target Your Audience

Understanding what motivates your target customer will help you choose the right style of packaging.
When you’re able to get inside the heads of the kinds of people you want to reach, it will be easier to choose the right materials, package shape, colors, and marketing messages.
What makes a package attractive to a five-year-old boy is a lot different than what calls out to a 60-year-old woman from the store shelf. In an article on Medium, design and user experience expert, Mudit Mittal explains the importance of connecting packaging with psychology.
“In the store, the packaging acts as a gateway to the product. Consumers look at the packaging and respond to how it makes them feel at that moment. If the consumer feels that the product can potentially satisfy their needs, it influences their buying behavior.”
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Packaging can be the stimulus that creates desire. Will your package resonate with your audience?

5. Go Green

There’s certainly a growing audience of consumers who want to purchase products sold in sustainable packaging. The trend towards choosing green packaging is especially popular among Millennials.
Going green with your packaging associates your brand with a cause many people believe in, and if the product inside is environmentally-friendly, all the better.
People now expect brands to make an effort to be more environmentally friendly. Plus, a global study from Nielsen in 2014 found 55 percent of consumers around the world are willing to pay more for companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.

6. Improve Package Functionality

Beyond attractiveness, creative package design can include ideas that make the consumer’s life easier. The growth of flexible pouches is a good example of how packaging innovations solve common household problems.
For example, take a walk down the baby food aisle and you’ll now see these products packaged in small pouches with spouts. Instead of spooning food out of a jar, parents can let toddlers feed themselves. Consider the handiness of vegetables you can steam in the microwaveable bag they came in, or the shopper who’d be interested in single-servings of wine packaged in disposable plastic wine glasses.
How can your packaging be more convenient than your competition’s?
Here are some packaging functionalities that are important to consumers:
  • Easy to open, easy to use, and easy to store
  • Resealability for freshness and protection
  • Prevents spillage and leaking
  • Allows for on-the-go use
  • Package can be reused or repurposed
When you design your package to fit your target audience’s lifestyle, they will notice and appreciate that functionality. If your package solves problems in their everyday lives, your product will stand out on the shelf and online.

Work with the Right Team to Make Your Packaging Work for You!

From high-impact graphics to innovative structural design, Menasha has the packaging engineers and designers you need to develop the right solution for your brand.
In addition to retail product packaging, we also specialize in other retail merchandising solutions, like creating eye-catching displays, which is yet another way to help your product get noticed in stores.
Contact Menasha today to find out