Your packaging design is more than just a pretty face for your product. It’s a powerful marketing tool designed to attract consumers. According to surveys, 72% of Americans say packaging design influences their purchasing decisions. The more your customers like the packaging, the more of your stuff they’ll buy.
Unlike your online ads or website design, you can’t change your product packaging with a few clicks of a button. Once it’s released, you’re stuck with it. So, before you do release any type of packaging, research it well to make absolutely sure it’s going to work for your customers. How do you do that? Ask them!
What Is Packaging Design Testing?
Have you ever asked someone if a shirt looks good on you? That’s an entirely different question from “would you buy this shirt?”. Packaging design testing is measuring the performance of various designs for its intended purpose, which is to communicate value that leads to purchase. It lets you gauge consumer impressions so you can choose the most effective design and beat competitors across a range of metrics.
Most modern packaging design testing is done online by simulating the buying experience. Systems can test multiple packaging design concepts and ask consumers which version is their favorite and why. Generally, you want to pack your study with the consumers from the demographic you’re trying to target. However, it can be helpful to add a few outside demographics to see how the design resonates with other groups.
Is It Really a Big Deal to Test Design Before Launch?
Yes, packaging design testing is a big deal. (Didn’t you read the title?) Your packaging is what separates your product from the competition. Without strategic design, you’ll likely fade into the background and get left on the store shelves.
Packaging design testing offers several major benefits to make sure your product is ready to hit the stores:
- Real data to back up your design choices: Creating a new packaging design isn’t a solo task. Designs usually have to go through several committees and approval processes. Testing your packaging designs gives you real, quantifiable data to help you persuade the higher-ups and get everyone on board.
- Identify areas of improvement: Of course, your designs are tip-top. They’re the pinnacle of elegance and taste. But usually, there are ways to improve. Listen to the feedback from your audience to make your designs even better at attracting the right demographics.
- Learn how different groups react to your design: You might have a specific target demographic in mind, but why put all your eggs into one basket? Segmenting your packaging design to different groups of people to see how effective they are across the consumer spectrum. Filter your testing results by gender, age, location, etc. to see how your packaging resonates with different demographics. Who knows, you might even identify a new market opportunity.
Once you’ve collected all your valuable information, you can revamp your designs accordingly and hit the shelves with confidence!
Metrics to Track
You can’t just send packaging designs to random people and ask what they think. You must track specific metrics.
While the actual questions can be as generic or specific as you like, there are a few universal metrics you want to identify. Phrase your questions to learn consumer feelings regarding these key aspects:
- Purchase Intent: The most important metric. Purchase intent and purchase drivers are measured in a simulated buying experience with target consumers against your competitors.
- Appeal: Is the packaging pleasing to the eye? Ask about colors, design systems, graphics, and information layouts.
- Standout: There’s a lot of competition out there. Does your product stand out on the shelves or website, or does it fade into the background?
- Preference: A pretty packaging design doesn’t necessarily mean someone will want to purchase your product. Does the packaging entice consumers to buy? Functionality is a major part of desirability as well. Does the packaging make it easy to use your product?
- Quality: People judge books by their covers all the time. Does your packaging display the level of quality your product deserves? Low-quality products don’t sell.
- Relevance: Is the packaging design on par with your target demographic’s needs, wants, and tastes? It’s also important to ensure that your designs are relevant to your brand in a positive, consistent way. McDonald’s should never release a green and blue Happy Meal box, no matter how good it looks.
- Uniqueness: Does your packaging look different than competing products? If your product isn’t unique, it won’t attract new customers. These are the true brand drivers that lead to purchase.
Your specific goals will determine which metrics are most important. For example, if you want to push sales, purchase intent will usually be the most important metric for you to track. If you want to increase awareness and differentiate your brand from the competition, preference and uniqueness will help understand how it stacks up against close competitors.
At the end of your packaging design test, you can ask consumers which design was their overall favorite. Some test participants might rank all your designs similarly, which isn’t helpful. By forcing a definitive decision, you’ll see which one was most appealing and which communicate important key messaging themes the best.
Asking about the favorite design will also reveal which metrics are most important to consumers. For example, if participants consistently choose the most “unique” design as their favorite, you can bet uniqueness is important to your audience. You can use that information to drive future marketing decisions.
Ensure Your Packaging Designs Are Ready for Market
You can look at all the trends in the world, but you won’t truly know how consumers feel about your packaging designs until you ask. Testing is an important part of the packaging design process. It gives you quantifiable data to support your choices, it helps identify areas of improvement, and it provides insight into how your design impacts various demographics. It turns decision making into an objective data-backed decision, instead of the subjective decision that it commonly is.
Once you release your product, it’s nearly impossible to make changes to your packaging design. Make sure everything is the best it can be for maximum effectiveness when your product hits the shelves. If your products are beautifully packaged according to your brand goals, consumers won’t be able to resist. It is a marketing force multiplier for all future marketing efforts to promote your products.