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Understanding Package Design Testing for CPG Brands.

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Packaging is the face of your product. It’s a key driver of sales in retail environments and is a chief way to differentiate yourself from competitors. But in our experience, many companies don’t give the packaging design process the respect it deserves. This article covers the key CPG package design testing methods to determine shelf performance predictably.

Why don’t brands of consumer packaged goods engage in testing innovations? Sometimes this results from marketing, but more often than not, CPG brands are not current on the latest ways to test a package for performance. Our objective is to help CPG packaging decision-makers understand and embrace the testing innovations our clients use to outperform the competition.

CPG Package Design Testing

Brands of consumer packaged goods that want to compete at the point of purchase must understand the tenets of packaging design testing and why it’s so important. A bit of effort in the testing phase gives you a wealth of information you can use to better tailor your packaging to your customers, provided you handle it correctly.

Like other forms of CPG branding, marketing, and advertising, a consumer goods company testing for performance requires the right setting. This article will provide specific testing methods that separate buyer intent from actual purchase intent.

Testing Reduces Risk, Improves ROI

The key goal of package design testing for consumer products is to hammer out problems with your design before you produce it at scale.

If consumers don’t like some aspect of your layout or they’re confused by your packaging, you’ll need to rework your design to appeal more to their sensibilities. It’s unfortunate, but no matter how much effort you put into your packaging design, the final vote goes to the end user.

In this way, testing is a key method for risk reduction, particularly for new products that lack established markets. And it also influences ROI in terms of your production costs. Modern commercial printing is less expensive, but from a cost/benefit perspective, launching a set of labels without performing due diligence makes little sense.

Testing reduces the risk for CPG brands that go beyond the store shelf. Since product packaging exists across the entire marketing strategy, it makes sense that testing your packaging design will have a positive impact on any advertising campaign.

How to Structure CPG Package Design Testing

Package design testing encompasses several market research data collection types, from pre-design research to post-production surveys. CPG companies need to start this process as early as possible in the packaging design phase; you’ll need these insights as soon as possible to give your designers some material to work with for their mock-ups and prototypes.

Consumer Packaged Goods Testing

The way you collect data depends on the research method used. In consumer packaging research, there are a few common options:

  • Observational research: Working with select customers and observing their behaviors in the retail shopping environment.
  • Guided Assessments: Focus groups where a moderator directs a group that matches our target customer.
  • Online studies are great for collecting large responses during the initial package design strategy.
  • In-depth interviews Provide more detailed information about customer motivations, perceptions, and preferences.
  • Post Purchase Surveys: Follow-up surveys to determine intent to repurchase and brand loyalty.
  • Retail Simulation: Simulating the retail environment to recreate the buying experience and witness the real time purchasing decision.

The idea is to leverage research methodologies to get a complete view of your market’s perceptions. What do they think of your brand? Does your new packaging stand out on the shelf? How long do they typically spend comparing products, and is your new design worth consideration?

Initial Research For Your CPG Brand

To begin, plan out your research goals and determine a reasonable scope for each effort. Proper planning is crucial to getting an organizational buy-in, from your C-suite to your marketers to your designers. Everyone needs to agree and have the same goals in mind.

Start by analyzing the existing market research for a historical understanding of consumer behavior from your target market.

Following your understanding of the market, test certain concepts individually or in small groups. Structure your testing to focus on individual elements one at a time, such as your product packaging layout, color choice, copy, and so on.

Asking The Right Questions

You’ll get far more concrete information asking customers specific questions like “Does the package’s messaging make you feel confident about this brand?” rather than generalized questions like “What’s your opinion of the product packaging?”

In this initial research phase, your design team will take this information and develop prototypes based on your initial findings. We eventually pair these down through further research and competitor assessment (as discussed below), but it’s good to have many options to work with. If for no other reason than that most consumers don’t know what they like until they see it.

Build out a few options for your designers and consumers to play with and go from there.

Testing Against Competitors

As you use these methods to learn more about your product packaging, you’ll need to ensure you’re testing against a comparative set similar to your brand. In other words, your biggest competitors. If you want packaging to have high purchase intent, you must ensure you’re differentiating yourself in the marketplace.

Look at your competitors. What are they doing? What strategies are they employing that you aren’t? In your experience, how do these strategies play into your market’s perceptions? Understanding what they’re doing well and where they’re going wrong is important.

Integrating Competitor Data Into Your Design Strategy

Compare these issues and keep in mind issues that may create conflicts in your data, such as the relative size of the competitors. For example, assessing what industry giants are doing is helpful if you’re a small manufacturer. However, since their manufacturing capabilities will far exceed yours, you may apply different strategies they do.

Along the same lines, if you’re entering a crowded field with well-established players, your market may have certain expectations based on what your competitors have already put out.

This provides an opportunity for differentiation but also poses a challenge, as expectations play a huge role in purchasing intent. You don’t want to swing too far in the other direction and build a crazy package design your customers don’t understand.

Design Your Packaging With Care

One of the overarching goals of the CPG package testing process is to get both aim and subjective information about your product. Getting as much information as possible is important, but be careful about applying too many changes too quickly.

Like your other brand marketing efforts, slow and structured changes are the way to go. Perform a structured testing process for each phase of your CPG packaging design to hammer out any issues that might come up. Rushing the process will defeat the purpose. Go slowly and make your improvements one step at a time.

Proprietary CPG Package Design Testing

At SmashBrand, our testing methodology goes beyond finding the target audience through market research. Our CPG packaging design agency goes through an extensive process, giving you accurate data about what success looks like for your final design.

Our mission is to increase your revenues while reducing retailers risk when putting your product on the shelf.

Book a time to discuss your project with our team.