24Jul

The High Cost of Design Without Strategy

By Ian Segail | Blog | 24 Jul 2020 |

“Not another one!” Jen said “It’s so disappointing! They've got a great product and a halfway decent brand and some ‘bean counter’, only looking at the immediate short term costs, has pulled the pin on all this great product could be!” She continued.

“I’m not even upset because they chose not to go with us here at Jam. What really upsets me is that they've chosen to go the el-cheap route and create a brand and a pack without any strategic thinking behind the design. They will never know just how great this product could be. For the sake of a few thousand dollars investment at the front end, they could potentially lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in unconverted sales.”

The difference between budget and strategic design

When you decide to go with a basic, “Let's just get something out there”, “pretty pictures” design, and save yourself the money, understand that you have just put the hand brakes on your product sales. In other words, you are about to limit the on shelf sales opportunities you could have had.

This is akin to hiring an average salesperson to sell your product versus hiring a “Top Gun” salesperson. Yes, you’ll probably have to pay the Gun salesperson more than you’d planned, yet you’ll do it because you know that the additional sales they will generate for you will more than offset the additional cost.

The on-shelf silent salesman

You have worked so hard to develop your product from initial concept to production to finally getting the retailer to stock your product, and place it on the shelf. That’s only half the battle. Now your product has to sell it’s butt off amongst a sea of competitors all shouting for the consumer's dollar.

Your pack is your silent salesman. Your pack has to do the heavy lifting and sell without an enthusiastic salesperson spruiking all of your products' features and benefits to the consumer. Plus you're faced with…

  • Competitors
  • Store lighting
  • Shelf space restrictions
  • Shelf colour
  • Competitors ranges colour blocking
  • Associated products,
  • Pricing
  • Cheap sale items

to name just a few of the forces all contesting for your consumers' dollar. Is it any wonder why “budget design” or “pretty packs” just won't cut it?

For your product to make a sale on the shelf, there are two battles the packaging design must win.

  1. The targeted consumer has to notice your product and reach for it (as opposed to something else).
  2. The targeted consumer must place your product in their shopping basket. To win both of these battles, the product’s packaging design is key to winning.

Great packaging design involves a unique blend of structure, imagery, color, and fonts which arouse interest and entices the consumer’s senses making them pick up your product and put it in their shopping cart.

Strategic design creates the differentiation that sells

Sure, whilst an ok/budget design with a basic foundation might do reasonably well in the marketplace because you have a great product. Whereas when you apply strategy to the design process, you will achieve a pack that creates differentiation between itself and your competitors. You’ll accomplish product pack design that blocks on shelf and has a clear understanding of who it is and what it stands for.

Strategic design answers the questions - Does the design...

  • Deliver shelf stand-out
  • Differentiate on shelf – Clear differentiation from competitors and line segments and varieties of complex product lines
  • Align with the brand persona - The design must graphically support the brands colour palate and persona/avatar
  • Clearly convey positioning
  • Communicate communication hierarchy and product attributes including usage, qualities, size, benefit, flavour and characteristics
  • Call out features, benefits or changes
  • Create an emotional connection

Unfortunately, all too often, time and time again – a half baked concept hits the shelves – sometimes getting less than 90 days to deliver. It doesn’t matter whether you are with Coles, Woolworths or Bunnings, your pack has to perform or you’ll be gone.


Think of the retailer as Real Estate

Every inch of a retail store has been engineered to suck out maximum dollars for its square meterage. If the retailer can make $30 for the space where currently they're only making $12, you can see why they would be so ruthless. If your product does not perform it’s gone!

Let's go budget and save the money

So let's say you spend a minimal amount on your pack design – it lands on shelf – you sell a few units, your distributor (Coles, Woolworths or Bunnings) says – better update your pack, and they give you some suggestions of what to do – so...you continue down the “budget highway”. This now means you have to:

  • update the packs based on their suggestions
  • new design
  • new artwork
  • new plates
  • new print

BTW. They also tell you they don’t want your old pack on shelf so now you need to chuck out all the first set of packaging. (Are you counting the cost yet? And by the way we haven’t even calculated the lost opportunity cost from all the sales you didn’t make because your pack design wasn’t strategically optimised for selling from the shelf).

So now your new updated pack hits the shelf. It doesn’t work. You are deleted.

“I get so frustrated! I can so easily write about this because I have been doing this for nearly 25 years and have seen this story happen so many times. It’s a rinse and repeat. As the saying goes, There are no free lunches. If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.”

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” – Benjamin Franklin

Do it once, do it well.

Do it once, do it well. Invest upfront – get your product right, know your audience and most importantly invest in strategy – because it’s not a guessing game. Strategic branding and packaging design is based on a blend of science and an art form.

When you put yourself in the hands of a strategic design agency, you are investing in original design and bespoke thinking that is tailored to your brief, your dream and your product.

As strategic brand and packaging designers – we are creating something for you. Not a copy or a “pretty pack”.


The subconscious cues that get missed in budget pack design

Have you ever noticed that diet cookies are typically presented in small, and slimmer packaging? What about air freshener? Notice how the packaging is usually filled with images of lavender, jasmine, milk and honey. All of these images have been thoughtfully included to evoke feelings of tranquillity and memories of comfort. The list goes on…

Brain science tells us that at least 85% of all decisions we make are governed by our subconscious? This means that no matter how nice or how pretty your packaging may be to look at, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a connection with your target audience or sell the product.

There are a whole host of subliminal messages that are created during the strategic design process which allows your packaging and brand to create disruption on shelf. These subliminal messages talk to the consumer in a way that they don’t even know is happening. We know that the consumer makes most of their decisions subconsciously. This means that strategic packaging designers have to dig deep into the consumer psyche to figure out exactly which buying triggers to need to be expanded upon. This of course, requires research. Experience and design skills.

This is what you are investing the extra dollars into. You are paying for the magic or secret recipe which is being created.

Being frugal does not mean being cheap!

If you want your packaging to truly stand a chance on the shelves and sell more, it must evoke positive emotions and memories as well. All the right triggers must be leveraged if you want your packaging to connect and sell in a sustainable way so your brand can grow and your business can continue to expand. Work as an effective branding tool.

“Being frugal does not mean being cheap! It means being economical and avoiding waste”. - Catherine Pulsifer

To learn more about the Strategic Packaging Design Process read this blog.
https://www.jamandco.com.au/post/7-step-packaging-design-process


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