Design, Testing

An Inside Look at FMCG Packaging Design.

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FMCG Packaging Design

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The FMCG industry is highly competitive. In the fast-moving consumer goods sector, you compete against heavily advertised big-name brands, viral influencer-led newcomers, and category innovators offering new features and formulations. With such fierce competition, fast-moving consumer goods brands must have a packaging design that nurtures brand differentiation while encouraging consumer engagement to solidify a purchase decision. Creating a proven FMCG packaging design to showcase your product is the only way to take heavy competition head-on.

This article discusses the resources necessary to create optimized packaging designs that stand out on the retail shelf. You will learn how to develop a packaging design with enough brand recall to create a habitual response from consumers.

Here is what you will learn in this article.

  • The data-driven importance of packaging design in the FMCG industry.
  • How the packaging design can spark consumer engagement.
  • What research needs to conduct before a packaging design to understand the consumer.
  • The fundamental elements of an FMCG packaging design.
  • The role of testing in the packaging design process.
  • When to engage with a packaging design agency.
  • How to guarantee a performance increase with your packaging design.

Packaging design in the most challenging FMCG categories is a complex process requiring a deep understanding. This guide will give you a foundation upon which to build. From understanding consumer behavior to each design element, you will gain insights to better your FMCG branding, sales, and marketing. If you are an FMCG decision-maker, this guide will equip you with the knowledge necessary to win on retail shelves.

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The importance of packaging design in the FMCG industry

The statistical importance of packaging design for FMCG products cannot be overstated. One report by Wharton University states that 70% of purchasing decisions are made at the point of sale. While you can use in-store FMCG advertising, such as shelf talkers, for purchase consideration, the packaging design plays the most pivotal role in capturing consumers’ attention. Ultimately, it’s the viewable product itself that has the greatest influence on their purchasing decision.

Packaging design is crucial in capturing consumers’ attention and influencing their purchase decision. Even if you remove the design and messaging, packaging plays an influence. Ipsos found that packaging alone influences 72% of consumer’s purchase decisions.

And if you think the competition isn’t paying attention to this, consider this. Depending on the geographic region and demographic audience, somewhere between 50-64% are willing to try a new product based on what they see in the store.

One of the surveys was by Nielsen, which also found that packaging design is the most critical element in purchasing for 41% of consumers. These statistics highlight the importance of a packaging design for “each” time the consumer considers your product.

Understanding how your packaging competes against an ever-evolving landscape is critical to your brand strategy.

How The Packaging Design Drives Consumer Engagement

A successful FMCG product packaging design communicates a brand’s values and messaging while penetrating the consumer’s psyche, living in their subconscious memory past the point of purchase. Consumers do not remember brands with category likeness but with category differentiation. When a product is memorable, the likelihood of earning repeat business increases.

Attracting a consumer is important, but we can capture their attention in a not so revenue-generating way. Being the most visible product on the shelf receives a reaction, but sparking interest and curiosity in the consumer’s mind positively influences their purchase decision.

Understanding the Consumer

A vague understanding of your consumer isn’t enough to compete. Whether through trade show conversations, customer service, or retailer feedback, the general understanding is a fraction of what’s necessary to compete with national retailers.

Conducting Consumer Research

Tomato Love Market Research

FMCG brands are often shocked at the data we put before them after performing consumer research. Many aha moments, including having the right pricing strategy, are created by identifying target market segments, analyzing consumer behaviors, and working through customer preferences. Like CPG market research, data-driven insights about the latest FMCG trends are key in strategy.

There are even cultural and demographic considerations that you need to understand during the packaging design process. FMCG market research ensures that all important considerations are evaluated and tested for performance.

Using Consumer Insights

You must base your packaging design strategy on research which is often available for the right price. More often than not, brand managers vocalize how big box retailers demand consumer insights when presenting their products.

Through existing consumer insights, you can identify opportunities for brand differentiation. You can find gaps competitors have yet to fill or identify consumer frustrations you can solve.

Consumer insights also have to do with what consumers say about your brand. What you say isn’t always what consumers hear. Consumer insights about your brand ensure the design process aligns the consumer’s expectations with your brand’s expectations, moving both forward.

Fundamental Elements Of A Successful FCMG Packaging Design

Every product packaging design has three core components; The packaging, the design, and the messaging. However, more elements of a packaging design live within these categories. Here’s a look at each of these fundamental elements from the perspective of our data-driven brand development agency.

Package Messaging

Messaging Button

At SmashBrand, messaging is the first aspect of a package design we develop. Leading with the words is contrary to most agencies and internal teams who start with the “look” of the product. While every design element is essential, the words matter most in a packaging design.

Messaging serves two primary purposes:

  1. Communicate the product’s value proposition.
  2. Speak this value prop uniquely and distinctly.

The value proposition may be the product’s innovative qualities, or as with products targetting millennials and gen x consumers, packaging that communicates the brand’s values, such as sustainability.

Visual appeal

Appeal Button

The visual appeal is more than the artistic elements and life-like photography. The visual appeal includes typography and font selection (and size). Collectively, your visual appeal impacts the psychology of the consumer. The appeal must attract a consumer to your product and hold their attention for long enough to reach the point of purchase intent.

Functionality & User Experience

User Experience Button

FMCG products live and die based on the amount of customer retention they receive. Regarding what impacts FMCG customer retention, the packaging experience comes second only to the product experience. If you have an exceptional design presentation, yet the product packaging design provides a mediocre user experience, expect consumers to look for another solution.

Brand Consistency

Brand Consistency Button

Your product’s packaging is the foundation for the rest of your FMCG marketing campaign. Brand assets and marketing must be in sync to soften your product’s pitch when sitting on the shelf.

Conversely, introducing a line extension that does not represent a cohesive brand experience can also be damaging. Reducing the visual brand identity of your new product minimizes the amount of brand recall customers have. It’s a head-scratcher why brands do not test their brand assets on the package to determine their impact.

Brand consistency is critical to any packaging design, from the logo design to the tone of voice in the messaging.

FMCG Packaging Design Testing and Validation

Countless brands treat their FMCG products like pulling a slot machine in Vegas. They create a product and then go to market, hoping things will work out in their favor. Rolling the dice works as well in FMCG retail stores as in Vegas, in that the house (or house of brands) tips in the scale in their favor before you even enter the casino. Testing is how you prepare yourself and tip the scale back in your favor.

FMCG ecommerce brands that sell directly to consumers might have the luxury of supporting content to convince the prospective customer to purchase the product, but in retail, the front of pack is everything if you hope to convince consumers to try your product. 

Pre-Launch Design Testing Methods

Throughout the strategy and design process, there are three main categories for testing. They are:

1. Focus groups: Ask consumers how they feel about your product in an isolated environment. Focus groups are better than nothing but not enough to compete nationally.

2. Concept testing: Asking consumers to choose which concepts they prefer and explaining why. Concept testing gets us closer, but concepts only compare you against you.

3. Retail Shelf testing: Asking consumers to compare your finished concept with the competition. Retail packaging design testing is how we validate your product’s ability to execute in real-life retail.

Within these three aspects of design research and testing, brands must consider many more specific design elements.

Package Testing Services

*Package design testing services we offer at SmashBrand.

Collaborating with Packaging Design Experts

Whether one person is in charge of product packaging design or a team is assigned to a single SKU, experts in packaging design improve design efficiency and drive results. Of course, this is only if the experts are experts.

When you find an agency that meets your expectations, communicating your brand’s vision and objectives is essential. However, being receptive to any data or insights the agency may bring is equally crucial. Having years of experience across many brands in and out of your product category gives experts a different perspective and provides access to data you may find nowhere else.

FMCG Packaging Design That is Guaranteed To Perform.

You now understand how packaging design is critical to an FMCG brand’s success. We encourage brand owners and managers to invest in creating a research-driven packaging design guaranteed to perform on-shelf.

That’s where SmashBrand comes in. We are the only agency to guarantee a performance increase with our pack design. That’s because our proprietary process combines research, strategy, design, & testing with iterations throughout. The result is a finished product that creates consumer engagement, leading to greater purchase intent.

Book a time to discuss your project with our team.

The Only Agency To Guarantee A Retail Performance Lift.

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