It’s a competitive jungle out there!  An average supermarket carries between 15,000 and 60,000 individual products.  Consumers wander through the fluorescent lit aisles weekly and come away with an average of 30-40 items.  The competition for share of basket is fierce and it isn’t any better online.  Stand-out packaging is a must, but packaging is always evolving with the product, competition and category – meaning countless redesigns!



However, when you are on your umpteenth package redesign, it’s easy to forget what matters most.  So, we at Insights in Marketing put our heads together and came up with a critical tips list for packaging redesign.  These tips will help breathe some life into your next package redesign and will act as a sanity check to ensure you don’t miss the mark (and have to start the whole process over again!)

IIM’s Packaging Redesign Tips:

1.  Decide:  Evolution or Revolution?

How big of a change are you aiming for?

A revolutionary change means one that will be drastically different from what it was before.  Sometimes revolutionary changes are great as they give you the biggest impact on your business, but other times with a revolutionary change you run the risk of detaching the emotional connection your core customer base has with your product (and possibly an inability to recognize it on shelf).  Remember Tropicana’s redesign?  Don’t let that happen to you.

An evolutionary change, on the other hand, implies packaging optimization.  You are disposing of the elements of your current packaging design that aren’t working and emphasizing the parts that are working.  This type of change involves improving the delivery of your message, rather than starting from scratch.

2.   Appeal To and Research the Person, Not the Purchaser

As marketers and researchers, we often think in terms of customers, buyers, consumers, and purchasers.  However, behind all those terms, they are really just people.  It is imperative that all research to support your packing strategy is aimed at getting to know the person behind the purchaser.  After all, it is really people that your brand will connect with.  Through carefully designed research, get to know their subconscious and conscious drivers and core motivators.  Identify the lens from which they view the world and your product.  Going deeper and really knowing them (sometimes better than they know themselves!) will lead to success, differentiation, and brand loyalty.

3.  Reinforce the Emotional Connection To Your brand

If you ask people “Why did you pick up this product as opposed to the other five on the shelf?” more often than not, they won’t be able to articulate the reason. That’s because 90% of their reasoning might be unconscious, and therefore based on emotion.

Functional relationships are great, but fleeting as products and services evolve and “one-up” one another for your business.  It’s the emotional connections that keep a target market loyal and coming back to your brand.  These are the relationships your brand should strive to develop and nurture.  It is these relationships that foster longevity and a sustainable competitive advantage.

A good example of a brand reinforcing their emotional connection with packaging is Coke.   Their Share a Coke with (insert your name here) campaign fosters personal relationships and sharing.   They understand that their young target market values relationships/connections and loves to share experiences with others, so the packaging design nurtures this need (and helps spread the word about their product!)

4.  Practice Good Design & Good Business:  Be Simple, Authentic and Honest

Distill your message.  Marketers often try to list all benefits of a product on the package.  However, packaging is not a brochure.  Focus on a key benefit and communicate it prominently.  Too much clutter obscures your message.

Also, be authentic and honest in your package communications- deliver what you say you are going to deliver.  No enhanced images or false promises.  In fact, by depicting a product ten times better than it actually is, you’re both misleading and disappointing your consumer, leading to poor repeat and brand loyalty.  Be good to your target and they will be good to you.

5.  Put Your Product to The Test with Smartly Designed Research

Test your new packaging with qualitative and/or quantitative research.  Take the guessing game out of packaging redesign by actually putting it on shelf and having people react to and interact with it. Understanding what is working well to communicate your desired message – and what is not – will make your final package work harder for you at shelf.  It may cost you money in the short run to test, but ultimately it can save mega bucks in the long run and increase your chances for sales success.


Ultimately, your brand has to stand out, communicate key messages and foster emotional connections with your brand through packaging.  That is a tall order for any one.   However, IIM has found if you take these tips to heart, your chances of success are much greater!