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Is your packaging saying the right things to consumers?

Article ID:
November 2013
Len Pollack

Article Abstract

The author uses the bottled water industry as an example of how savvy packaging research and design can help set a product apart from the rest.

Editor's note: Len Pollack is senior vice president of client strategy at The Pert Group, a Farmington, Conn., research company. He can be reached at This article appeared in the November 11, 2013, edition of Quirk's e-newsletter.


Learning what consumers value, what your brand relays and any correlations between the two will help you differentiate yourself from your competitors. By including research into your marketing or product development strategy, you can evaluate the current marketplace, assess trends over time and match your products to the needs of consumers. Packaging is one significant way that a company can stand out. Let's take the bottled water industry as an example.


Healthy living is no longer a trend - it's a lifestyle choice for consumers and their families - and drinking more water is a big part of it. The opportunity for bottled water companies to grow is abundant but they are also battling the green trend of consumers using reusable, sustainable water containers. So how can a purveyor of bottled water stand out in a saturated market with a product perceived as a commodity? Well, you can start with the packaging.


The message packaging communicates plays a large role in sales. Everything from the size to the finish of your product packaging sends a message that intentionally or unintentionally affects buying decisions. Packaging determines thousands of dollars of spend every year - a consideration companies should factor in as they strive to cut or maintain costs. Clearly communicating the clean taste, health benefits and convenience is essential for grabbing consumer's attention. What is your product saying about you?


You may not realize it but when you pick up a package of cheese or a box of tea at the grocery store, a variety of factors influence that decision: Is it portable? Easy to open and use? Eco-friendly? Customers look at packaging for quick cues. We want our purchases to reflect our needs and values. Consumers want a product that allows for easy consumption and transport that simplifies their life, so understand how your brand compares to your competitors and why a consumer chooses one product over another in their consideration set. Learn what your consumers value and build a product to match their needs.


Evaluating your packaging and updating it to match your product's strengths can help you better reach your target audience. Take some time and determine if the introduction of new packaging designs or delivery systems can motivate purchases. As you work through the process, remember that emotions permeate buying decisions now more than ever. What compelling experience does your product and its packaging offer the consumer?

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