The 10 Superpowers Of Packaging Part 1

By Silvina Rodríguez Pícaro

Product packaging is as important as the product itself!

Editor’s note this is part one of a two part series, this first part covers the first five of ten.

Many companies wrongfully view their product packaging as an afterthought.

So much time, money, effort, and resources go into the precise creation and perfection of their products, yet their product packaging – the absolute first thing customers see – goes by almost ignored. In the retail world, the packaging is just as much a part of the product as the product itself.

Small business can compete successfully on the retail shelves by utilizing 5 Superpowers of Packaging in their favor:

1- The Power to Call Attention

The retail environment is a competitive battleground where products contest for store space and the shoppers’ attention.

At the shopper’s first glance, your product packaging has a maximum of two seconds to make a claim, connect with the buyer, and receive a closer inspection. Packaging that does not succeed at this two-second test gets passed over in favor of a competitor.

Of course, brands play a significant role in this decision-making process. However, a new product with an unknown name has an opportunity to call the attention of its audience and make it big in these competitive shelves.

Tip: Years ago, expensive focus groups of qualitative research created barriers for Small Business to test their packaging before the product launch. Nowadays, neuromarketing allows entrepreneurs to test how packaging captures the attention of its target, in real time with accurate diagnosis at a much affordable cost.

2- The Power to Differentiate

In the retail space, when a shopper focuses on a category of products, his or her eyes quickly scan the section shelf, and a storm of visual sensory data is analyzed in milliseconds.

The shopper’s mind is subconsciously searching for two main things:

  •  What they recognize as familiar, and
  • What stands out as unconventional, differentiating from its category or niche.

In the case of repeated purchases, shoppers are focusing on what they know and recognize, like a particular product they have already bought, enjoyed, and want to buy again.

However, there is always that subconscious desire to find something new. This is where the real opportunity lies: in being the new thing that stands out from the crowd and captures the target’s attention. Good strategic packaging designers know that they need to create a packaging design that sets the product apart from its competitors, not one that blends in.

Tip: Understand your niche market and differentiate within your category.

3- The Power to Set the Price

Packaging plays a critical role in setting the product price.

The look and feel, the materials, colors, and finishes play together, conveying the price of the product to the consumer. If you want your product to be placed in premium categories, a suitable packaging material to select would be glass.

Stainless steel and aluminum are also recognized as more valuable than plastic and cardboard.

The color of packaging also sets pricing; a black label may be noted as more valuable than a natural colored one. Printing quality on cardboard also makes a pricing difference.

For example, full-color lamination, hot stamping or embossing will add perceived value to the product. Lousy packaging will undoubtedly damage potential pricing.

Tip: Define your product-potential-pricing first, then evaluate if the packaging is accompanying your pricing strategy, it will make easier to decide on how much is it worth to invest, keep in mind that underinvesting may be as damaging for your product as overinvesting.

4- The Power to Sell

Excellent packaging works like a 24/7 sales representative.

The price of the square foot of retail space is quoted, and if your product does not achieve the expected sales performance, it will be asked to leave. Simply, you may get the opportunity to reach the shelves. However, you will remain ONLY if your product performs well.

Tip: Redefine the role of the packaging and compare it with a 24/7 sales rep, then invest time and energy accordingly.

5- The Power to Divide Markets

Each product container has an SKU (stock keeping unit), a barcode that makes it a unique product.

Subtle changes in packaging, occasional restyling, differences in highlighted features, emphasize its uniqueness. Knowing this, it is clear that companies set out to manufacture products to supply Target, Wal-Mart, or Best Buy exclusively and uniquely to each.

Tip: Work with retailers, offer them exclusivity with a twist on your product or POP materials and win their favor. Consider them your best allies when it comes to selling your products.

In part two I will identify the final five of ten superpowers of packaging.

Published in Latin Business Today.