Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Making Your Product "Pop" Off the Shelves

As a CMO, the packaging of your product can make the difference between success and failure. Many marketers focus on advertising a product through various communication channels, but overlook the importance of marketing in the store itself. The variables and conditions in a store may greatly shape a consumer’s final purchase decisions. Thus, how a product is packaged can have a great effect on what a shopper buys. As an undergraduate student in Northwestern's Medill IMC program, I have found two important articles discussing some research on how packaging impacts consumer opinions and purchase decisions.

One important marketing feature in the packaging of consumer goods is the colors used in the packaging. Studies in Consumer Reports Magazine and LifeHacker have shown that consumers have certain associations for different colors. For example, green tells us that a product is “good” for our health or the environment, whereas purple or gold signify to us that a product is rare or exclusive. However, it is important to note that the emotional tone of colors can change. For example, you must be wary of using red to convey feelings of love, as it can also be linked to feelings of danger or urgency (likewise, blue has been associated with feelings of both optimism and sadness). The saturation can also play a role: richer colors indicate richer flavors to your consumers, whereas lighter or muted colors give the perception that a product is ‘lighter’, i.e. lower in fat. Also, it is important to consider the packaging of your key competitors’ colors when designing yours: if you use colors contrasting those of your competitor (think Pepsi and Coke), the consumer can more easily differentiate your product.

Additionally, the packaging itself plays a big role in shaping the consumer’s decision. An article by Sarah Nassauer in the Wall Street Journal described how Hershey Co. recently began selling miniature versions of its chocolates in resealable bags, as opposed to separately wrapping each piece. Sales of unwrapped miniature chocolate in the new bags rose about 14%, compared to only 4% growth in the sales of wrapped chocolates. Consumers associated this new packaging with convenient on-the-go eating, as they no longer had to deal with unwrapping each candy and disposing of the wrapper afterwards. Likewise, consumers also believed the candy in resealable bags would stay fresh longer than similar candies in containers that did not re-seal. Thus, it is important to study consumer trends in the marketplace when choosing how to market your product in-store through packaging design.

From my analysis of these two articles and my studies at Northwestern, here are three action items I recommend you initiate:
  1. In-Store is Critical - Don’t undervalue the importance of in-store marketing.
  2. Colors Communicate - Choose packaging colors based on what you want to communicate to your consumers about the product, as well as the colors of the competition.
  3. Key Trends - Consider current trends, such as consumers eating-on-the-go and valuing goods that come in convenient, portable packaging, when designing products.
As the research shows, sub-optimal product packaging may be costing you dollars and market share in your most valuable markets. Following these action items could not only save your products, but strongly impact how consumers perceive your brand as a whole. 

Hayley Buch is an undergraduate student at Northwestern University, studying Integrated Marketing Communications, Psychology, and Sociology. She is interested in consumer psychology, and applying psychological concepts to the field of marketing. Hayley will be graduating in June 2013, and can be reached on her twitter handle @hayleybuch.

No comments:

Post a Comment