Consumer-centric package design seems so obvious as to not need stating. Yet it wasn’t that long ago that consumers simply had to accept products packaged as manufacturers dictated, even if packaging was too bulky, or inconvenient to use.
Newer technologies are allowing CPG brands to develop consumer-centric package designs that demonstrate outstanding functionality while giving brands greater scope to stand out on store shelves and appeal to consumers in new ways.
Now that consumers are used to packaging that solves their problems (“Why can’t I re-seal this?”) and makes life easier (“Individual serving packages would be great to give to the kids when we’re in the car.”) there’s no putting the genie of customer centricity back into the bottle. Here are five best practices for consumer-centric package design.
1. Keep Packaging Simple and Functional
Consumers are annoyed when packaging appears to have been designed by Fort Knox. They don’t want to spend a disproportionate amount of time getting to the product, especially when resistant packaging isn’t required for safety reasons (like with medicines). Excess packaging, and packaging that hastens product degradation once it’s opened, as with non-re-sealable inner packaging is a turn-off now that simple, effective designs are so much more readily available.
2. Make It Planet-Friendly
Most Americans have access to recycling programs, and though recycling rates have plateaued in recent years, Americans are still generating less trash, and millions of them are committed to recycling what they can. And even people who aren’t disciplined enough to maximize their recycling support the idea of recycling. Planet-friendly, consumer-centric package design resonates with all these people. And when packaging is minimized, even when it is not recyclable in a lot of places, it demonstrates a commitment to environmental issues, and that’s important to millions of American consumers.
3. Labels Should Be Informative and Speak Consumers’ Language
The “clean label” movement has made an impact on consumer attitudes. People are wary of ingredients that have long, unpronounceable names. And while preservatives and other components are sometimes necessary for food safety, people want to know what their purpose is. Consumers are also more curious about where their foods come from, and they’re more attuned to label claims like “organic.” Today’s consumer-centric package design must make label transparency a priority.
4. Maintain an Ongoing Conversation with Consumers
One of the best ways to ensure that consumers are happy with package designs is to ask them their opinions on it. Fortunately, there are countless tools that let brands do this. Social media, online polls, and a strong commitment to listening to consumers are powerful channels for ensuring that package designs address their needs. But the conversation must be ongoing because consumer needs and priorities change, as do technologies that allow for innovations in packaging design.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Do Something Different
Sometimes consumer-centric package design means packaging products in new ways, such as water packaged in paper cartons. Not only is it practical, it’s environmentally friendlier than bottled water. But products don’t necessarily have to shift to an entirely different packaging concept to make an impact. Sometimes a change in colors, packaging shape, or label fonts can make a product stand out in a sea of competitors. A package shaped so it can stand up on its own and can be re-sealed, such as many of the new re-sealable pouches, offers consumers new options, and may solve problems consumers didn’t realize they had.
Best practices in package designs for CPG products obviously must account for the needs of the manufacturer and requirements for safety. But they must also focus on consumers in order to stand out to them. Consumers are inundated with brand messages throughout most of their waking hours, and consumer-centric package design is a practical and effective way of cutting through the “noise” and reaching consumers at the point of sale. PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives; please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news!