Winning at the physical and digital shelf 

By Alex Hunt, CEO, Behaviorally

It is a great month when you can celebrate two milestones and birthdays at once. For us, at Behaviorally (formerly PRS), it is our 50th anniversary of understanding human behavior and our one year as Behaviorally, the No. 1 digital-first, global partner for helping clients drive shopper growth. This comes at a time when the retail landscape is evolving more quickly than consumer goods companies can keep up. Our clients are challenged more than ever to win at both the physical and digital shelves by influencing shopper choice to their advantage.

To celebrate our dual anniversaries, we naturally looked back at the experience that has led us to be such passionate proponents of the power that packaging can have on a brand’s growth objectives. Our enviable legacy has helped us build unparalleled expertise and the world’s largest database of behavioral KPIs for effective packaging, defining and diagnosing how packaging can be a powerful component of sales growth. We accomplished this by doing what no other agency can claim: assessing over 30,000 design ideas, exposing them to over 15 million consumers globally and developing the key metrics for predicting pack designs’ potential to drive in-market success.

For decades, clients have been coming to us for expert guidance and best practices for making packaging effective. We knew it was time to assemble what we have learned and validated through our extensive work, and what we passionately believe, putting it into a guide for principles of packaging design that works.

Driving shopper growth 

The result is our recently published e-book, “The Power of Packaging to Drive Shopper Growth.” In it, we share our guidance and thought leadership on 10 topics most frequently on the minds of our clients, and best practices to follow to increase packaging power at shelf. We have included our recommendations and answers to their questions about the factors that lead to standing out on shelf, and the key metric: being placed in the shopper’s (digital and physical) cart.

The Power of Packaging E-book

In the e-book, we articulate a framework based on all we know about behavioral science and the KPIs for pack design you must achieve to be successful. Your packs must be:

  • Seen. 
  • Shoppable. 
  • Seductive. 
  • Selective. 

We give you the reasons why these are the essential behavioral metrics to apply when evaluating pack designs for their potential to influence consumer choice in your brands’ favor. We provide best practices we have seen applied to these areas, recommendations for tactics to employ and what to avoid in your quest to create powerful packaging that drives shopper growth. 

We have included evidence from our database, examples and case studies to illustrate each of our points, plus testimonies from leading and famous brands that these aspects of effective pack design are essential in their own growth strategies. In each of the chapters, we identify the elements of pack design that can introduce benefits or barriers that will impact consumer choice toward your products at the shelf. 

What we share is practical and pragmatic, but also inspirational: 

  • Our behavioral work has proven that in their time-pressured visit to the grocery shelf, consumers only process a maximum of three to four elements on pack before making their purchase decision. In the “Keep it Simple” chapter, we recommend specifics ways to ensure your pack designs emphasize elements most likely to influence choice. 
  • Where other agencies might give you their opinions, we looked deep into our database for unambiguous proof of our passionate beliefs. One is the stark reality that effective pack design is deadly hard to achieve. Most new designs we have tested provide little to no improvement to the packs they are replacing. But we don’t leave you hanging; the e-book also enumerates the factors you can define and diagnose, identifying deficiencies to fix so you can improve your odds of success. 
  • Throughout the chapters, to help illustrate principles visually, we share examples of great pack executions that leverage design elements like color, structure and emotional imagery to the brands’ advantage. Our case studies also reveal actual in-market results where behavioral metrics led to effective pack designs that exceeded expectations for shopper growth. 
  • Not all successes or failures come down to packs themselves. In the chapter that describes pitfalls to avoid, we highlighted a case study, revealing other factors in shopper marketing that clouded, what might have been perceived a pack failure. Once understood, we helped the client save the pack design from abandonment. 
  • We also dedicated a chapter to the conundrum of how to effectively communicate ever important sustainability promises on packaging, that is already crowded with other benefits and claims.

Leveraging past experience to invent the future 

It is our hope that this e-book conveys our passionate commitment since our inception in 1972: partnering with our clients to enable them to create powerful, effective marketing, especially packaging, that drives shopper growth. Literally 50 years ago, we pioneered the use of eye-tracking technology in market research, leading the world in visual asset assessment at the physical shelf and changing the way the industry conceived of observing consumer behavior. 

Today, Behaviorally is equally obsessed with transforming our clients’ ability to predict shopper behavior, by leading the world again in visual asset assessment at the digital shelf. We are fueling our digital research solutions with tools such as AI image recognition that facilitates early and iterative pack design development, as well as performance of pack images on the e-commerce shelf. We have also amplified our ability to mimic shopper experience through online VR simulations of retail environments and virtual planograms that can be constructed in hours. We’ll continue to exploit our digital transformation to offer ever better solutions; no longer should any client have to trade-off between better, faster and cheaper, nor should there ever be an absence of solutions built from a digital-first starting-point, reflecting the speed and scale dynamics of digital commerce.

Evolving best-in-class research tools

In the coming months, you will hear more about these and other digital innovations as well as our expansion globally to better support our clients around the world, all of whom have been supportive of our business in 2021. We will be announcing product enhancements for optimization of images on the digital shelf, as well as expansion in six new markets over the course of 2022.

The common thread in our relentless pursuit of innovation has been our singular focus to help brands develop effective tactics to seize the moment at which value is created and drive shopper growth. Our commitment to evolving best-in-class research tools has enabled us to evaluate pack and shelf designs against extensive, category-specific behavioral data and reliably predict their potential for success. 

If your marketing, insights, analytics and design teams can benefit from the expertise we have amassed over the past 50 years, and the commitment we must revolutionize shopper marketing in the future, let us support you in a partnership to drive shopper growth. Visit our website - www.behaviorally.com - and read our latest e-book. Mostly importantly contact our local teams to discuss how we might help you in 2022 and onward. 

About the author

Based in New York, Alex Hunt is the CEO of Behaviorally and is a recognized pioneer in the practical application of behavioral science to shopper marketing to help clients develop consumer experience that drive business growth. 

Hunt is acknowledged as an industry thought leader and a regular contributor to industry events as an advocate for the power of consumer insights to fuel commercial growth.