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Packaging Design: How to Define Your Target Market

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It’s tempting to market your products to as many consumers as possible, but we’re well past the days of believing in the “shotgun” approach to product marketing. The most successful packaging campaigns come from brands that identify clear niches for their product communications. This means understanding their preferences, habits, lifestyles, and behaviors, and using this information to hit consumers right where they live.

The process of defining a target market is long, but the steps are simple enough to put into practice.

Start With Your Base

Start by examining your current customer base and your packaging goals. Are you wanting to double-down and focus your branding on existing customers? Do you want to rebrand and build out your product scope to hit more segments? Or are you seeking a complete redesign with an entirely new market? Gauge your desired outcome and how much effort it will take to get there.

Research Your Competition

Particularly when you’re expanding the reach of your established brand, it helps to research your competitors and see what they’re doing. The goal here isn’t necessarily to take their ideas, but rather, to learn what they’re doing so you know how to differentiate yourself.

This differentiation is the key to branding. We all know that there isn’t much difference between the two brands of fabric softener on the retail shelf; it’s how the brand portrays itself that makes the difference in the consumer’s mind. Learn what beats your rivals are hitting and decide whether you want to compete with them or take a different approach.

Determine and Address Need

This is the crux of your redesign. Why are you redesigning your packaging in the first place? What need are you trying to fill, and which consumers will benefit the most from your products? These answers will determine how your new packaging layout should look.

For example, let’s say you’re launching a new product line of deodorants or soaps to specifically bring in new demographics of men or women. You’ll need to decide whether to stick with established color norms for genders or to flip the script with more offbeat color marketing. These types of decisions, of course, come down to the preferences of your market. In this case, older consumers may respond better to more masculine and feminine dichotomies, whereas younger Millennial/Gen Z consumers may find a gender-neutral approach more in line with their sensibilities.

This type of research must be done well ahead of when you begin producing your packaging materials. And on that note…

Leverage Testing and Research

Test, and test again. Regular market research is the key to understanding how to position your brand’s packaging. There are plenty of ways to manage this, including partnerships with market research firms, focus groups, free online marketing assessment tools, and more. Heck, with enough resources, you could even launch possible designs to structured test markets to really get an idea of how consumers perceive your designs.

Take Your Time

Remember, the road to a stable and defined target market is long. You may end up performing research you’ll never use or working towards designs that get left on the cutting-room floor. Be patient with the process and trust in the data. As you work towards your goal, your efforts will develop, and you’ll begin to see success.