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First impressions count


supermarket, lollies, chocolate, shelf, shoppingShoppers process just one per cent of all visual information in a retail store, yet brands spend millions on point of sale material (POSM) to stand out instore.

What brands often overlook is the fact that products get the majority of visual attention from shoppers when they’re instore.

This means packaging is your best bet in a retail environment, rather than things like aisle fins or instore advertising.

Consumers shop with core consumption occasions in mind. It is essential to help shoppers visualise themselves using or consuming your product through the packaging.

Packaging must also serve a dual role by meeting the needs of ‘decided’ or ‘open’ shoppers.

For decided shoppers, packaging primarily helps navigation and helps make products visible at a glance. Visual cues trigger brand memories and activate existing connections in the shopper’s mind.

For shoppers ‘open’ to choice, however, packaging acts as selling platform that communicates compelling product benefits.

Open shoppers are more likely to read messages. This means packaging must focus on benefits to motivate them to purchase it.

The following six tips will help your product fulfil the needs of both types of shoppers.

1. Colour and shape is key

Humans recognise and respond to very simple visual cues that are based around colour and shape.

A simple and ownable ‘colour shape’ can stand out for any brand and can also be used for through the line communications.


2. Use your best assets

Keep packaging true to what shoppers know.

Brand cues are critical to ensuring packaging remains recognisable. If it must change, then consider the impact and go for evolution not revolution.


3. Consistent communication

Packaging must reflect your above the line (ATL) communications to tap into shopper memory structures.

If you do use POSM, be where the visual activity is and communicate as close to the product as possible with shelf barkers or fins.

Make sure you do all of this without losing your brand cues.

4. Brand block your variants

Keep consistency of packaging across all your different product types, such as different flavours or sizes.

This will lead to more presence on the shelf and an increased likelihood of receiving visual attention.

Woolworths supermarket shopping large

5. Keep it simple

Shoppers spend very little time looking at each product, so limit the number of visual elements on the packaging and feature this strongly.

Text should be simple, to the point, and limited to a few key words (maximum five to seven).

Keep your brand story, detailed benefits, and selling points on the back of the pack.


6. Stand at the sign post

If you are lucky enough to be a category leader, remember that shoppers use your packaging as a sign post to direct them to the category.

Shoppers are more likely to notice a Coca-Cola bottle to identify the soft drink aisle than a sign stating as much.

Peter Firth is a director at shopper insights agency, TNS Global. He advises on growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching, and stakeholder management.

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