How important is emotional connection?

By Ian Segail | Blog | 5 Nov 2019 |

Surprise must be designed into your pack to create a WOW! Surprise packaging sells!

When one’s expectations are blown away and we get much, much more than we ever expected…that becomes a WOW moment. Surprise packaging sells. In an ideal world, if the pack design can trigger each of our five senses and engage us grabbing our attention, then that design can convert the automatic-pilot task of grocery shopping into a fun and surprising experience. Great packaging designers look to bring a pack to life with the use of both visually striking creative graphic and structural design. They work to differentiate and make the product stand out. They strive to have the customer go, “WOW! Check this out!

Surprise them on shelf and when they get home

There are two parts to creating SURPRISE brand marketers need to take into account when it comes to their product packaging design.

  1. The first part of the SURPRISE at the shelf. It’s the WOW that excites the category and catches the consumer’s eye calling for them to pick the pack up off the shelf and engage with it.
  2. The second SURPRISE comes when the consumer gets to open the pack making them go WOW!

This blog will look at surprising the consumer at the shelf.

Standing out in a sea of pretty

Today’s supermarket shopper is constantly bombarded with visual data shouting for their attention from the very moment they enter the store. Whether it be the enormous variety of SKU’s (Stock Keeping Unit) on the shelf or the sheer volume of strategically placed point of sale material, the retail environment has become one in which it’s incredibly tough to stand out. Its tough to surprise and make an impression on shelf. One pack has become just another pretty face in an ocean of pretty faces.

It’s been said that the true role of marketing is to provide clear differentiation and memorable experiences for the customer. Never more is this statement true than on today’s retail shelf.

Unique attracts

Customers are drawn to products on the shelf that have been beautifully packaged. A design which excites that is unique and interesting automatically attracts potential customers.

Did you know that 66% of consumers tried something new simply because the packaging caught their eye? 66% !!!(According to a Westrock -A renowned international product packaging manufacturer – 2016 survey). (That only leaves 34% of consumers who are stuck and don’t want to try something new. 66% is a target that would whet the appetite of even the most jaded marketer.


  • What should you be doing to get your packaging to help you stand out on-shelf in the overcrowded and hyper-competitive big-box retail world?
  • How do you break through the “me too zone” and make a powerful on-shelf impression?
  • How do you stand out so you can get picked out?
  • What does your pack need to become to create a WOW!

Standing out from the crowd according to Wikihow

According to Wikihow.com, we instinctively know that people who stand-out from the crowd are typically those individuals who are comfortable within themselves. These people have the confidence to be unique allowing their individuality to shine. Wikihow.com also suggests that people who stand-out from the crowd are not afraid to speak their mind and avoid following others, especially when this results in sameness and conformity. Wikihow tells us that such an individual may be “someone whose appearance is striking and is remembered by others for being someone special and is worthy of looking up to.

Looking to grow your market share? –This means that for the brand marketer who is looking to grow their market share, they need their product/s appearance to stand out and excite the category. The packaging design needs to be striking and remembered by others for being special and worthy of grabbing attention and stopping the busy consumer to take a look.

  • What is your pack doing to break the consumer’s habitual shopping patterns an have them stop and look?

Stirring positive emotions – According to our research, shoppers spend on average 27 seconds making a decision in the aisle, which makes shelf appeal incredibly important in capturing relatively disengaged consumers.” says Carla Fantoni, vice president of communications for Tetra Pak U.S. and Canada. “Brands need to take the time to focus on package quality and design to create packaging that offers a bold, consumer-facing billboard on the shelf.

  • When you think about your products on-shelf, have they been designed to stand-out?
  • Are they consumer-facing billboard’s ?

In her best seller, “Think Like a Marketer” author Lauron Sonnier, writes, “It’s easy to stand out when you do something no one else is doing. To beat your competition you can’t just be a little better than they are. You have to do something different than they do.” Sonnier goes on to say that standing-out means “stirring positive emotions, be they joy or inspiration or peace of mind, sending them a message that there’s more where that came from.

  • What positive emotions are your product packs stirring in your target consumers?

First impressions – Worldwide recruitment organisation, Hays, tells job seekers they must stand-out from the crowd.

To stand out, candidates must:

  • Make a good first impression
  • Self promote themselves

Brand marketer opportunity – The message for brand marketers wanting to get cut-through on-shelf is clear, albeit obvious, “make sure you stand out on shelf.

Design packaging that stands-out. Create packaging that makes a good first impression and that sells itself! Develop a pack design that stirs positive emotions.

Wow Packaging

3 ways to get STANDOUT appeal and disrupt the shelf

So how does the marketer disrupt the shelf and attract the consumer’s attention and have them go WOW!? There are three key elements of  creating standout product packaging that marketers need to review to ensure differentiation of your category on shelf.

1. Look

2. Form

3. Function

The role of the disruptive marketer is to consider each of these 3 elements in turn and determine which one of them your product can disrupt, should disrupt and can afford to disrupt.

  • Considering your packs on shelf, which of the 3 elements of form, function or look can you apply to disrupt and excite your category?

Packaging design that stands out from the crowd – At Jam&Co we review the 3 key elements of a product on shelf through the lens of what we have determined are the 5 Jam’s of disruptive packaging design.

  1. BOLD: In our visually saturated marketplace your brand needs to stand. The packaging design must grab and hold the consumer’s attention. It needs to be bold. The above said, there is a big difference between boldness and recklessness. The difference is understanding that boldness works only when based on authentic insights.
  2. HONEST: The only truly defend-able brand position is an authentic one. Potential customers can spot a phony product that’s over promising from a mile away. Authenticity speaks volumes. Brands that tell a genuine, honest story resonate with people. People believe in honest brands. The packaging design needs to call out to HONESTY!
  3. GREEN: A dynamic trend that is influential in packaging design acknowledges the growing consumer awareness of environmental issues. “Green” packaging is very popular among today’s customers.Sustainable pack design means taking the long view. It’s about making choices today that balance the three p’s—people, profit, and planet—to create a greener future.
  4. CLEAR: What is your essence? What makes you different from other brands? If you look at some of the most iconic brands on the globe, they send a clear message about what makes them different. Once you decide what makes you unique, your entire brand and package design must be focused around this.
  5. LOVED: Emotional connection is a powerful way to link the heart of your target market with the soul of your brand. This connection is the degree to which your customers care about your brand beyond its rational attributes. It is more psychological than logical and more unconscious than conscious.
  • Thinking about your product packaging , how do they stack up against the 5 Jam’s of disruptive packaging design™ above?
  • Which of the 5 can you apply in a cost effective way to help you get cut-thru on shelf?

Communication hierarchy of the packaging mix – The goal of all visual design is to communicate.  The visual hierarchy supports comprehension and reinforces your brand message. The visual hierarchy will guide the consumer through the story you want them to grasp.

According to the researchers there is an operative hierarchy of the packaging mix that drive purchase intent.

  1. Colour
  2. Shape/form
  3. Symbols and… finally
  4. Words (Unless the words are actually part of the design imagery).

As Branding Strategy Insider author Derrick Daye wrote: “Strategic and informed package design is a must, which can only be accomplished through a carefully engineered sequence of color, shapes, symbols and words.” This means that the packaging hierarchy needs to be designed with the view of 1) drawing the targeted consumer in 2) creating a distinct hierarchy and 3) tempting interaction.

Considering your product packaging, how does your products hierarchy stack up? (At the very least against your competitors on shelf)

Grabbing competitive advantage at the shelf – There is a key element that will have you stand out above all else and that most marketers are too risk avers (and most often don’t have the budget) to use to crush the competition on shelf…This element when done well has the potential to crush it and completely disrupt the shelf.  That element is FORM.

Product packaging form has two primary purposes:

  1. to contain and protect the food or beverage (functionality)and
  2. to catch a consumer’s eye on the shelf. (form differentiation)

Form disruption power – Imagine you are walking down the aisle looking for tissues and you saw A row of Kleenex Tissues that presented like the image below, what would you do? Would you stop and look? Of course you would. That’s using the power of form to grab consumer attention.

Hiroko Sanders

Premium Packs = Premium Prices – More and more manufacturers are beginning to see the disruptive value of form. Therefore as an extension to using form as a shelf disruptor, is to use premium packaging as part of a product’s value positioning and a proven way to deliver incremental sales for their brand.

Tetra Pac’s VP of Communications, Carla Fantoni is quoted as saying,“According to Deloitte’s 2015 American Pantry Study, today’s consumers are willing to pay more for products with the right attributes, including innovations and improvements, customization and convenience.

Premiumising your pack adds value.  Therefore depending on the social or financial value a product pack delivers, in many instances manufacturers are even be able to increase the price for the same product. With a premium pack, brands can have consumers willingly pay extra simply because they “premiumised” their packs.

NOTE: As more and more manufacturers adopt this strategy to improve their top lines, still others will jump on the premium packaging bandwagon and “premium” will soon become a consumer expectation. However for the moment premium is still an opportunity to carve out additional revenue.

Form functionality– Designing form isn’t simply about crazy or zany forms designed to jump out at the consumer from the shelf. Rather they should be purposely considered that adds value and convenience to the consumer in the form of convenience which inherently add value to the user experience.  According to Carla Fantoni, VP Communications for Tetra Pak U.S. and Canada, “Attributes like functionality, shape and graphic design have the ability to make a package appear premium in the eyes of the consumer. Consumers desire package designs that are more adapted to their needs than ever before

Resealable pouches, car cup holder-sized packages and mini packs are examples of packaging form which are seen as value adds. These forms contribute to the consumers perception of “premium”. Think about the Toblerone iconic pack shape cues brand personality and suggests premium. The form connects on a sensorial level and appeals to the consumers multiple senses.

Butterfly Teabags PNG

When packaging becomes more than simply packaging

If you have ever bought an iPhone then chances are very likely that you still have the box it came in? I know I have boxes stemming from the last 3 iPhone’s models I bought. So what is it about those iPhone boxes that makes them so hard to part with? How many packs of products do you still have simply because they were so gorgeous you just couldn’t part with them?

The iPhone box is a beautifully crafted piece of packaging design. Apple has created a beautifully clean and sophisticated palette of visual language that presents their carefully designed product. The iPhone pack is like a piece of art on a gallery wall. People sell them on eBay. The designers have spared no expense in their choice of materials and form design, meticulously engineering the all the items of the pack, from the box, the lid to the inserts, all of which deliciously reveal the product inside. So much design attention to the pack has been created that we find ourselves unable to part with the empty box.

Beautifully designed packaging has the power to attract attention, engage with and provoke consumer curiosity. These beautifully designed packs both encourage customers scrutinization and more importantly, to trial the product. Awesome form design has the tendency to imbue the product inside with a sense of premiumised mystique. The packaging design represents the esteem and value in which the product is held by the brand and is therefore perceived by the consumer.

Product packaging drives perception

Perception is our personal opinion, our point of view about a particular event, person or thing. Consumers make subconscious decisions about products and subsequently pass judgement on products depending on how the product is packaged. Perceived value of the external product packaging, can enhance the perception of the utility of the product inside. The product pack impacts the perceived value of what the consumer receives (quality) versus what they would be willing to pay (price).

Premium packaging stats. – More than 60% of online shoppers say that premium packaging makes a brand seem more affluent and expensive. About 50% of shoppers say that premium packaging makes them more excited about opening a package. 40% of shoppers are more likely to recommend a premium packaged product to their friends.

3 – 7 seconds to buy or not to buy?

As with most trends in this modern era, life is moving faster and faster. As people’s lives become busier, decisions must be made quicker. According to research, shoppers spend on average 27 seconds making a decision in the supermarket aisle. “The average shopping trip takes around 20 minutes – 17 minutes to walk around and three minutes to search and select,” (Smurfit Kappa (2015). That said, if on average supermarket shoppers are making about 15 purchases per visit, this equates to only 12 seconds to search out and select each item. Either way, no matter which statistic you choose to focus on, despite the varied number of shopping options and shopping channels available for the consumer to research and to buy, the consumers decision timeline is getting increasingly shorter. This compressed window of time has forced brand marketers to become more creative in their marketing tactics to ensure that it is their products which are the ones ending up in the shopping trolley.

Putting the WOW into your packaging design

In the latest book by Marketing Guru, Philip Kotler, called Marketing 4.0, Kotler and his co-authors Hermawan Kartajaya and Iwan Setiawan, point out the critical importance of creating a “WOW” customer experience. This is especially important in a high tech, high touch world. “Today’s customers have less time and attention to devote to your brand—and they are surrounded by alternatives every step of the way.You need to stand up, get their attention, and deliver the message they want to hear.

Kotler Marketing 4.0

Today’s best marketers use the element of Kotler’s WOW to SURPRISE and apply it to their product packaging to grab the consumer’s attention and make sales at the shelf. They use the critical elements of form, function, symbols, words and colour to grab the consumer’s attention and get them to put their product into their shopping basket. Savvy brand marketers are now looking at the entire purchase experience and how they can surprise the consumers when they get home.

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