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7 Principles of Persuasive Packaging

PackagingIconIn a recent BrandSpark International study, we found that only one third of consumers knew exactly which brands they were going to buy on their next visit to the grocery store. A product’s packaging is the last opportunity a marketer has to convince the shopper that their product is superior and worth buying compared to the many options stocked right beside it. Packaging can make a difference in whether a shopper considers your product, buys it and even whether they are willing to pay a premium for it.

While our research reveals many packaging design best practices for each major category, for the purposes of this article we have identified 7 universal truths that are applicable to any CPG category.

1.      Less is more

How many times have you heard this before? It’s fascinating to still see thousands of product packages jam-packed with the entire brand story, features, benefits and more. This does not attract shoppers. In fact, because shoppers are looking to complete their shopping trips as quickly as possible, packaging that is able to communicate the product benefits and the brand’s point of differentiation without having to be picked up will win the sale.  This brings us to ‘universal truth’ #2

2.      Benefits over features

Every time we test packaging concepts, the ones that highlight the product’s consumer benefit outperform those highlighting only product features. As marketers, we sometimes have the tendency to tell consumers and shoppers alike as much as possible about our product. But let’s face it, most shoppers don’t care. Tell them how the product will help and benefit them. If you are launching a product under a strong brand with relatively high levels of trust in the category, rest assured that shoppers will believe that you have designed a product that will deliver –just make sure that the product does, in fact, deliver. Leverage the back of the package to outline any key features relevant to your differentiated product story, but keep the front clean and clutter-free.

3.      Benefit-driven design 

The packaging design (shape, color, packaging features) must be able to clearly communicate and emphasize the product and brand benefit.

SchneidersSausagesThe packaging for Schneider’s line of Country Naturals was recently evaluated by shoppers. The study revealed its strength stemming from its simplicity and “natural” colors – both providing a clear connection to the products benefits. One shopper even went on to explain why the package was so influential to her: “Simple label on package. Not multi-colored or in your face.”

Ask yourself this: If you were to remove all copy text from your packaging, what would it communicate. Would the design provide strong cues to the product’s benefits and points of differentiation?

4.      Keep it bright and vibrant

Think of your packaging as a billboard in Times Square. How is it going to stand out in the sea of billboards vying for your attention and dollars? One of the most common attributes associated with strong persuasive packaging is bright and vibrant coloring.Typically, packaging with bright colours tends to perform better than dull-colored packaging. This is your product’s chance to put its best foot forward. Don’t fall flat with dull, boring colors.


In 2012, Nestle came out with their Bigger Nugget Drumstick. It had some of the highest scores for that years’ Shopper Study. Aside from it being ice cream (indulgent foods tend to score higher on packaging tests), the packaging was successful at persuading shoppers because of its vibrant colors. Not only do the colors make it stand out in the frozen food aisle, but its vibrancy espouses associations of a fun and great tasting dessert. One shopper even said “I can practically taste it” when asked why the packaging was influential to her.


5.      Brand breakthrough

If you were to flash your package in front of shoppers for less than a second, how many would be able to correctly recall your brand? Design packages so that your brand clearly stands out. This is especially true if you are launching new products under a brand with strong equity in the market place. Your brand asset needs to be leveraged to its full extent. Imagine your target shopper in the aisle of a store being bombarded by thousands of packages, shelf-talkers, blades, and everything else being thrown at them. Your brand needs to be able to break through the clutter and attract the attention of your target. To make sure your brand breaks through, make sure the font size of your brand name and size of your logo are large and the brand cues are clear.

6.      Attracting your target

This may seem like a no-brainer, but what a marketer thinks is attractive may not be what the target thinks is attractive. Make sure to test packaging with your core target as well as with your expanded target before making significant investments in packaging production. The degree of attractiveness is a strong contributor to a package’s performance in the market place.

7.      Be transparent

AlmayKeep in mind that shoppers operate with a healthy dose of skepticism when they are in the buying mindset. They don’t easily forget the disappointment of opening a bag of chips only to find out that it’s half full. A glimpse of what is inside the package goes a long way to reassure the shopper that they are getting what they are paying for. Whether it’s a small window or fully transparent package,you are more likely to persuade shoppers to buy your product if you show them what’s inside.

Take Almay Intense i-color smoky-i kit from Revlon. This product’s packaging acts as a way to show women how the product should be applied. Shoppers can easily see the color combinations and how they should be used. This principle is exemplified by this shopper quote: “It makes it simple to figure out how to apply for those of us who are useless with makeup”


Packages that are able to apply each of these principles will perform better than those that apply only a few. One of the best performing packages we recently tested is that of Tide Pods. You can easily see that this packaging design applies each of the principles described above.


While these principles may seem straight forward, after years of testing thousands product packages, we know that these principles are not being applied often enough. There is significant opportunity for brand leaders and their packaging agencies to leverage these techniques to win the in-store battle for a larger share of shoppers’ wallets.

Mark Baltazar is a VP and partner at BrandSpark International.  For over 10 years, Mark has helped his clients instill the marketing ROI mindset into their organizations. He can be reached at:
Mar 03, 2014 | By Mark Baltazar | Tags:

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Thanks for joining Keeping Up with The Shopper, we are excited to share our industry insights with you.

Concerns? Contact us at 647-727-4575 or email us at

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Please complete the form

Thanks for joining Keeping Up with The Shopper, we are excited to share our industry insights with you.

Concerns? Contact us at 647-727-4575 or email us at

Privacy Policy