Brand Strategy & Design
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Reclaiming Moments of Truth

May 7, 2018

Some may call it the Amazon effect, but without a doubt, the retail and consumer packaged goods industries are going through seismic shifts. Gone are the days when the larger the store, the better the sales, and where brands could block competitors by simply keeping them off the shelf. With online ordering, store pick-up, and same day delivery, the amount of store space is significantly less important, and if a retailer doesn’t carry the products that shoppers want, at the price they want, they will simply buy them elsewhere. Retailers and brands are scrambling to adapt to this new reality. And yet, in the middle of all this commotion, it is easy to overlook the importance of good package design as a source of competitive advantage when navigating this new reality.

Below are 5 reasons why good package design matters more than ever:

1. More than ever, consumers are looking for authenticity and compelling stories – Consumers are paying more attention than ever to not only what goes into the products they buy, but how it got there, and why. This is part of the reason why shoppers are spending more time away from the aisles on the center of the store and more on the periphery. Shoppers also prefer to support products that align with their values, so having a compelling story that comes to life through packaging is key. A brand that does this brilliantly is NatureRaised Farms, who also happens to be one of our clients at DRC. NatureRaised Farms leverages its package design to communicate its long-standing partnership with family farms that have a history of raising animals responsibly, which in results in delicious, high quality meats.

2. Even in today’s omnichannel marketing world, packaging is the only element brands control – As much as we love digital marketing, there are many factors outside of a brand’s control that can limit its effectiveness, such as bot fraud, the ever changing SEO algorithms, higher costs per click, and sheer competition for share of voice. Unfortunately, trade spending can also be unreliable and often carries a hefty price tag. Only your packaging can be relied upon to be seen by every shopper and to carry the right message for your brand, every time. How much are you investing in your package design?

3. Small challenger brands are gaining share with compelling design – Because consumers demand it, retailers are making more room for smaller challenger brands, which have been consistently eroding share from larger incumbents. Food startups, such as Mr. Kensington, often tell a compelling story that carries well through their packaging, and give discerning and adventurous shoppers a good reason to try their products. Established incumbent brands need to make their packaging just as fresh and compelling to stay relevant. How does your packaging stack up against this new breed of competitors?

4. Package design can address new demands on retail operations – As more retailers and shoppers embrace same-day shipping, in-store pick up, and subscription services, it behooves marketers and designers to look at innovations that make this processes more efficient and profitable to both the brand and the retailer. For example, new packaging can reduce shipping & handling costs, help reduce back-room errors, and enable cost-saving incentives to shoppers who sign up for automatic replenishment programs. How is your brand addressing these new demands on retail operations?

5. Design plays a key role for emerging technologies that are changing the game – Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Blockchain can save brands and retailers millions through supply chain efficiencies, while providing transparency in sourcing. At the same time, advancements in manufacturing, such as 3D Printing, are making it easier and more cost-effective to make products at smaller scale. Finally,Augmented Reality is giving brands a richer, more powerful way to connect with their shoppers. Does your current packaging help your brand take advantage of these emerging technologies?

With all the disruption in our industries, it’s easy to overlook the role of package design as a catalyst for growth. However, brands and retailers who engage their design partners early in the process have a better chance of not only surviving, but also thriving in this brave new world.