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Decision makers and designers have done a good job filling the natural product industry with earthly tones and a calming color palette. It makes sense since these speak to the colors we find in nature, which communicate well with consumers interested in natural products. But when you find yourself in nature, what is it that grabs your attention?
Let’s say you are on a hike through the woods, pondering how the trees sway and the birds chirp. These expected and relaxing stimuli are plenty to enjoy, but rarely stop you in your tracks.
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The Natural Approach to Product Packaging
Much like shopping the natural store aisle, in nature, it is what catches your attention that creates a desire to pause. It might be a random blueberry bush, a beautiful flower, or the ability to see the sunset that makes you stop and say wow!
The earthly tones may put you in the right state, but what caught your attention continues to live in your memory, becoming a story told to yourself and others. We can create this same result with your product packaging.
Packaging Design For Natural Products
Strategize your product packaging for the natural shopper in such a way that it makes the product a natural fit for the category yet captures the attention of the consumer. Creating this symbiotic relationship between natural and attractive is how a package design wins in its respective natural product category.
Keeping Your Brand Identity Alive
Existing brands looking to capture market share need to find a healthy balance between their current product offerings and new products targeting a more “natural” customer. Of course, if your existing products are far from healthy, then maybe a complete disconnect where you have a house of brands rather than a sub brand will prevent confusion. But let’s assume that isn’t the case, and your objective is to move your brand in a more natural direction.
Brand loyalty happens on both a conscious and subconscious level. Whether a consumer knows it, their decision making is based upon visual, emotional, and experiential associations they’ve had with a brand. Even if your brand is just now entering the natural industry, it is likely they will have an experience with your other products.
Foster Farms is a great example. At one point, chicken breast was healthy but times have changed. High protein/low fat is no longer the primary definition of what “healthy meat” looks like. Now it is about how a brand treats the animal and what we feed it that makes the difference.
Whether you agree with the business practices, Foster Farms has transitioned their line of products over into the current definition of “healthy chicken”.
Their product packaging design includes colors and words that matter with plenty of white space. Foster Farms let the label breathe while giving focus to the design element that means the most in the consumer’s mind.
Your product may miss out on brand recall if the packaging does not include the right brand assets that trigger a memory in the consumer’s mind.
What is the age demographic of your client?
Not all shoppers see healthier and more natural in the same lens. Different demographics speak a different language. They wear different clothing, frequent different places, and enjoy different activities.
What speaks to the baby boomer, carefully, considering what they put in their body, differs from the young skateboarder who has chosen an alternative free spirited path in life.
What Stores Will Carry Your Product?
The natural product section in target looks different from the one in whole foods and the customer buying habits could be different. A natural product shopper in Target may be just beginning their health journey, whereas the Whole Foods shopper has been at this game for years.
At what point in the journey is the shopper finding your product? Understanding how your product performs in simulated buying environments based on particular customer demographics can help you understand how a product performs in your most ideal setting.
Establishing the Right Purchase Drivers
Organic, non-gmo, sustainable, gluten-free, vegan, recyclable…how do you fit it all in? While you may want every benefit to live on the front of the label, the result could be catastrophic. Filling the front panel with every potential purchase driver is most likely going to cause a decrease in product consideration.
A natural product in a competitive category won’t win because they have more benefits that the customer sees at first glance. The natural product will win because it has the right benefits spoken in a way that differentiates itself enough to grab the attention of the consumer.
Testing for purchase drivers is a critical component for maximizing revenues. While you may have a purpose driven for profit business that believes in “doing the right thing”, it doesn’t always mean that your philosophical reason for doing business should be on the front of the label.
Let’s look at some of the most “assumed” purchase drivers in the natural product industry.
the consumer welcomes eco-friendly packaging that is identified as recyclable, but does that initiate a purchase?
A product with a cardboard box proudly stating “this product includes biodegradable packaging material” better be certain it’s a strong enough purchase driver to reach the register.
Few people in the natural section of a store want to put toxins in their bodies. Are you sure that the mention of “natural” is enough to choose your product over the 20 others in the aisle?
An effective food packaging design needs to go beyond being known as one of the good for your organic products. Consumers may still care about taste, convenience, and caloric breakdown of a product.
Ethically sourced Ingredients
The sourcing of your raw materials may be an important brand differentiator, but is it the most important at the beginning of the buyer’s journey? Fair trade and sustainably sourced ingredients are good practices for any business but may belong on the side or rear panel rather than front and center.
The Natural Process of Message Positioning
While the visual elements draw us in, it is the messaging that creates the connection. Understanding how to best communicate a message to the buyer is an important factor that we should strategize, test, and repeat with several iterations.
Find the Perfect Product Packaging
You first need to know what you have to work with before you can determine where to communicate your message. The design strategy begins by getting an understanding of how to best display the product on shelves. The natural product packaging industry hypes a few common themes, but are they right for your product?
Lead With Product Messaging
Once we make the packaging decision, the next step is to decide what messaging is the most impactful. Although we might assume that ethically sourced is a trigger for the consumer, it may not make the podium for messaging that matters.
Support Messaging With Visual Elements
While not every message communicates through a visual experience, many can. The design of your label or cardboard box should not only look good, but evoke emotions. Does an image of lush soil show to the consumer that this is a nutrient rich product? Maybe granny smith apple green communicates fresh and hydrating without the use of words?
In a crowded market where product packaging covers the same subjects, connecting the dots between an image and its message may be the differentiator your product needs.
Testing for On-Shelf Performance
Manufacturers are swimming in cash during the initial phases of natural trends such as pea protein, CBD oil, and hemp-made products, but with cash comes competition. Even with a graphic design, the product sells itself.
But even a creative packaging design is not enough to get the job done in an established product category with heavy competition. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and subjective decision-making by executives and consumer surveys can lead to disappointing real-world results.
Product Packaging That Converts
SmashBrand has worked extensively with natural brands to create products that win in natural stores. From design to print, SmashBrand creates a custom packaging solution for each of our clients by testing all elements of product packaging.
Discuss a project with our team to see how we are a natural fit for natural brands.