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Getting the Most out of Your Packaging
Packaging is often an afterthought when it comes to putting together a retail product for sale. But for a product to reach its potential it needs to have great packaging. This article explains how to get the most out of your packaging for your retail product.
Most of you probably didn't start your business and immediately think about packaging. You focused all your energy on your product, trying different formulas to make it better. Then once you were happy with your end product, you had to concern yourself with how to make it in larger quantities. Then suddenly you realized you needed some kind of packaging for your products. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Packaging is one of the biggest challenges for anyone selling retail products. Let's start with a couple of packaging success stories. Sometimes you can learn a lot by looking outside your own industry, so my first success story comes from the wine industry. The wine industry is large with tens of thousands of companies competing for our attention with hundreds of thousands of products. It is very difficult for a newcomer to make a successful business, let alone become the number one wine brand. A few years ago most people would have thought it impossible. Well I am here to tell you that the #1 wine brand in this country did not exist here just six short years ago. I am talking about Yellow Tail wines from Australia, and they have turned the wine industry on its head. Yellow Tail Shiraz is the number one selling red wine in America, Yellow Tail Chardonnay is the number two chardonnay, and many of its other varieties are in the top five in their category. How is this phenomenal success possible from a brand that did not exist in this country just six years ago? Well first, you need a good product at a reasonable price, that almost goes without saying. Most Yellow Tail wines retail for less than $8 and they are quality wines that appeal to a broad range of consumers. But to initially cut through the clutter at the liquor store they needed great packaging. All of their wines carry the same base label – an aboriginal style drawing of a brightly colored kangaroo on a black background. There are also different brightly colored labels on the bottle depending on the variety of wine. But the labeling is consistent across all their product lines and all of Yellow Tail packaging carries this same striking picture of the kangaroo – even their delivery trucks. Next time you are in the liquor store just casually walk down the aisles and you will see that their packaging really has a strong visual impact. There is a similar success story, although perhaps not quite as dramatic, in the soap making industry. Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan were a couple of twenty-something entrepreneurs with little experience when they decided to launch a household cleaning products company back in 2000. They wanted to create cleaning products that were non-toxic and used natural ingredients, but they knew it would be far more expensive to do that. So they decided they were going to create an expensive premium brand in the cleaning products category. They called their company Method Products and they decided from the very outset that package design was going to be an integral part of their business plan. They looked at all the household cleaning product currently available and decided that the packaging of these products, while functional, was boring and uniform. In the supermarket there was row upon row of these products with identically shaped bottles differentiated only by their labels. What they wanted to do was create packaging that you didn't need to hide in the cupboard; that you could happily display in your kitchen or bathroom like a home accessory. The packaging for every one of their more than 100 products has been designed to be beautiful as well as functional. Method Products has been successful because they focused on the packaging as much or even more than the actual product. Their designs have won many awards, and they have been featured in national magazines such as TIME, Family Circle, Redbook and Reader's Digest (and that is just a partial list from this year!). They have grown from zero to over $40 million in sales in just six years. If you are serious about getting your products into retail stores I urge you walk into a Target or Costco and look at the range of Method Products. So what can we learn from these two highly successful retail companies? I see five common elements that have helped make these companies successful that anyone can incorporate into their packaging: 1. Focus on your packaging – spend as much time and money on it as you can afford 2. Keep your look and feel of your packaging consistent across all your product lines 3. Just a color change is often enough to distinguish between flavors within the same product line 4. Simple will usually work better than a complex and busy design 5. Look at what your competition is doing and be different Whether you like it or not people are going to judge your product by its packaging. If you are currently printing your own labels on your inkjet printer, there is nothing wrong with that, but you will find it difficult to compete in a retail store. If you want to go to the next level, unless you have a talent for package design, you will need to invest in the services of a professional. A good starting point is often moving from do-it-yourself labels to a professionally printed label, this alone can transform the look of your products. I am sure you put your heart and soul into the creation of your products. Your customers love it and you are probably very proud of what you have created. But I encourage you to put some of that energy into your packaging design. Get the most out of your packaging by making it a priority in your business. If your packaging stays as an afterthought, a necessary evil, then the success of your product will never reach its full potential. Your products certainly deserve the very best packaging you can afford. Copyright (c) 2007 Peter Renton