Good Package and Logo Design Helps Market Your Products
By Sheldon Baker
In today's retail environment, there seems to be an endless list of new products, new brands and even new categories. In this era of expanding consumer choice, shoppers are overwhelmed and confused. Because most nutraceutical industry manufacturers shy away from strong consumer marketing and advertising programs, marketing professionals must often rely on the primary point of consumer contact – product packaging and logo development – to help develop brand loyalty.
A brand is not merely what a product or service does, but how it relates to the user. Packaging design often plays an important role in communicating both function and relationship to the customer. Gaining the competitive advantage through brand leadership takes a combination of well-planned brand structures, formal development plans, powerful communication programs and a systematic brand equity measurement system. It takes the full and coordinated efforts of virtually every department in a company. The packaging and logo can be a key communication device for a brand.
The growth of the natural products industry, the acquisition of many companies by mainstream marketers, and the introduction of their products into traditional retail chains have further contributed to consumer confusion. In the supplement category there has been little brand recognition, and therefore minimal brand loyalty.
Product packaging establishes the tone and defines the personality of the product. It tells the buyer what to expect and in many instances, is the first test a product must pass in the purchasing decision process of the consumer. Many marketing professionals agree that while placement of product editorial in national publications or a guest appearance on a national talk show by a celebrity product spokesperson to tout a product is important, superior packaging alone can entice a first time purchase from the buyer.
“Distinctive product packaging that supports the brand position goes a long way toward increasing consumer recognition at retail,” says Bert Bogash, vice president of Premier Marketing Group in Sunland, California, and West Coast trade show coordinator for the Consultants Association for the Natural Products Industry.
A 12-year design veteran who has provided packaging and point-of-purchase solutions for Natrol, Kellogg’s, Natural Touch, Worthington Foods, Symbiotics, Lamas Beauty International, Ridgecrest Herbs and others, says, “The distribution channel of a product is also a determining factor in its success. Packaging that works well in a health food store may get passed over in a mainstream drug chain. Packaging that gets attention at the retail level may not reproduce well online. Private label packaging that is sold in a branded environment needs to support that environment and live comfortably within it.”
Online and catalog retailers need packaging that is easily reproduced and offers obvious distinctions from product to product. Especially in the case of multiple purchases, the consumer benefits from packaging that clearly distinguishes each product, while maintaining the brand's visual integrity.
Effective Results – Maximized Sales
In many respects packaging development is the same or similar to the process of creating a marketing communications strategy. To be successful, the brand message must be the cornerstone.
According to Steve Caughran, who operates AlphaGraphics in Fresno, CA, there are several steps in the packaging process that can lead to effective results and maximized sales:
Be proactive. You’ve developed the plan; you’re its champion. You must gain the support of management early in the process. For example, innovative packaging can add cost. If the mandate from senior management is to cut costs, your best efforts are in jeopardy unless you can convince them of the value of your innovation and gain their commitment throughout the process and throughout the company.
Get feedback. Work closely with the internal departments in your company early in the product development process. For example, commitment from operations personnel is critical to ensure the necessary resources for manufacturing, packaging and distributing the product; also involve your supplier(s) in the early stages. They are experts and can help you develop your packaging efficiently and alert you to potential trouble spots.
Study and understand the retail environment. Research and understand your customer. Research can be the key to success. Studies show as many as 75% of shoppers in grocery and drug stores do not enter the store with a shopping list. If you can draw them to your product, you’ve got an excellent chance of making a sale. Research also demonstrates that shoppers typically spend under 10 seconds at most grocery categories--and typically fail to even see and consider over one-third of the brands in each category.
Bogash agrees that an important part to developing successful brand packaging is to understand and relate to the consumer.
“How they respond to the packaging will be determined by how accurately you have interpreted their needs and desires thus creating an emotional connection with the consumer through your brand efforts, including packaging,” Bogash notes.
“If your product is positioned to sell to a core natural consumer, the chances are good that they will be shopping primarily in retail environments where information is the key to sales,” states Bogash. “Your packaging will have to provide what the consumer is seeking.”
Break Through The Clutter
According to Caughran, for a package to be effective, it must break through the clutter and hold attention long enough to implant the desired message. Further, eye-tracking research concludes that the layout of a package label, an advertisement, a mailing piece, promotional event or even a web site can have an enormous influence on which messages are regularly seen or missed, and strong, attention-grabbing visuals can actually detract from readership and recall of branding.
“Marketers and their designers must consider which messages are implanted in the minds of shoppers. Does the design send the right message, assuming people take the time to consider it?” Caughran adds. “Do people spend more time with a package because it’s compelling, or because it’s confusing?”
“You may have to offer point-of-purchase displays and materials to accommodate clear and concise information,” says Bogash, “especially if your product line is large and varied.”
Several nutraceutical ingredients companies have developed successful brand strategies and heavily promoted their brand name and logo to consumers through their customer’s packaging and point-of-purchase displays and materials. CitriMax from InterHealth and Ostivone from Technical Sourcing International are two examples of successful ingredient brand marketing that generated both business-to-business and consumer awareness.
It follows that to be successful today, marketers of retail products need more than attractive packaging. They need a packaging strategy that specifically addresses the challenges of visibility, differentiation and support.
A successful point-of-purchase strategy, on the other hand, also depends on an understanding of the retail environment, the customer and the package. Point-of-purchase is so important, especially to small health food stores that traditionally lack the resources and marketing support to build the brand and tell the product’s story before the customer enters the store.
In-store and take-home materials, often part of a point-of-purchase unit, can serve the marketing function of providing detailed product and ingredient information, while the package reinforces the overall brand image.
The Right Balance
Most marketers will not have the luxury of catering their packaging to one single distribution chain. Striking the right balance is key to capturing the broadest audience. With knowledge of the similarities and
differences in each consumer group, and the needs of varied retail environments, brand managers and marketing people should be able to create packaging that resonates with the largest segment of shoppers. A strong, consistent brand message, conveyed through packaging, merchandising and marketing, is a positive first step to building brand recognition.
In a mainstream retail store, the consumer is more likely to be a “cross-over” shopper – one that is interested in natural products if they are convenient and priced competitively. Convenience translates to a few seconds of attention on a crowded shelf, so your packaging must be graphically compelling – your brand message must be obvious.
Less certain of the effectiveness of natural products, these consumers will respond to packaging that corresponds more closely to traditional products. In a branded environment, private label product must support the look and feel of the entire store. Often, this leads to simple, subtle packaging that is designed to be an extension of the larger brand.
Concentrate on Winning
Companies who have not done their homework may send confusing or conflicting messages thereby adding to the clutter and defeating their chance of truly engaging the customer. Merchandising professionals are witness to research that has repeatedly shown that people will not take the time to read more than a couple of messages on a label. Successful marketers and graphic designers understand the visual language people use to make their decisions and communicate accordingly.
Sheldon Baker is senior partner with the Baker Dillon Group in Northern California. His firm has developed successful marketing strategies for many nutraceutical industry companies. He can be contacted at (800) 570-1262 or at [email protected].