Today’s consumer is a moving target. Choosing the right consumer and the right demographic to target is an important decision. Monitoring what is hot and what’s not can dramatically influence a package design’s success or failure. Package design is an integral way to connect with your customer. But do you clearly understand the needs and wants of these elusive markets?
Understand the customer is critical. The problem today is that one package may not satisfy the needs and requirements of all buyers.
There are many niche markets out there and each one requires specialized packaging. So if you are targeting one of those, do your research first. What works for one target market may not work for another. So….
1) Find out what package attributes appeal to the customer you are targeting. If it is a harried homemaker shopping for your product then convenience of use had better be at the top of the list. Those over 50 are seeking convenience too but issues like the size of print on the package and ease of use top their priority list. Make sure your package employs the characteristics that appeal to your target market.
2) Understand how the package will be used. Families no longer sit and eat a meal with everyone at the same time. There are special diet requirements or dieting in general in most households. It’s not uncommon to serve different meals to different individuals. Package sizes will vary accordingly. EX: People who travel a lot buy sample or trial size packages because they are small and easy to deal with
3) Know your customers current buying trends. Several years ago, we went through the supersized phase. There are still a lot of supersized packages; however, buying trends are changing to smaller sizes in general. To package smaller does not mean less profit, in many cases it means more. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for convenience, ease of use and a smaller quantity. Remember the three premium baking potatoes in a package cost almost the price of a 5 lb bag. If you live with just one other person, do you really need 5 lbs of potatoes?
4) Keep abreast of new packaging technologies. Creative, new products have the advantage in the marketing world even if their technology is not new. Several years ago, Metedent took the world by storm with the duel aperture dispensing mechanism. Recently hosts of new cleaning products have revived interest in this type of dispensing. Look for innovate ways to combine two products into one package.
5) Watch where people shop. There is a shift from traditional retailers to new and innovative store formats. The convenience store, once considered a low-end marketer, has now transitioned into store that provides premium products at a premium price. This evolved from the hurry up and go mindset demonstrated in today’s shopping habits. Recent studies are showing that consumers no longer make one big trip and stock up but make several trips a week and get just what is needed at the moment at the most easily accessible retail outlet. EX: The grab and go cups of snack foods convenience stores are now offering. This category did not exist a couple of years ago.
6) Keep pace with „hot button“ packaging issues. This includes legislation too. People do really care about the environment and the amount of excess packaging. There is a move afoot to expand the number of vegetable-based plastic materials used in food packaging. If packaging consumers give these products their endorsement, look for other new products to surface. Legislation can change packaging mandates overnight. There have been „bottle bills,“ surcharges and bans that prohibit the use of certain packages. EX: Several fast food companies are test marketing corn-based plastic packaging materials. Ex: Ban on juice boxes in Maine and aerosol cans in Chicago.
7) Security in packaging is becoming increasingly important. This will continue to come into focus as more people become concerned about product integrity. One major security scare could force everyone to change their packaging methods immediately. Look for new tamper evident and security devices that can be incorporated into your packaging. Cost efficiencies are now making many of these devices more affordable and will soon become mainstream.
8) Competition of various packaging materials is increasing. From the imports that are readily available to the merger and acquisition mania that is taking place, keep current on your chain of supply globalization. Certain products such as plastic bags that used to be the mainstay of American manufacturing have now gone offshore. Ethic diversity both her and abroad is demanding that all packaging be multi-lingual and people really don’t care where the product packaging is manufactured.
9) External influence of power players. The big box retailers are driving packaging procedures and policies at retail. Mandates from these companies such as RFID tracking are in their infancy. This type of requirement could become mandatory overnight. If you want to do business with companies such as Home Depot and Wal-Mart, you will need to include the design and selection of your packaging materials as per their demands and others will follow suit.
Remember, the customer depends upon you, the designer, as a resource. They expect you to keep up with packaging trends and technologies and provide the latest and greatest innovations the industry has to offer. If you cannot connect with the consumer through package design, do not expect your products to fly off the shelf.