What’s Your Product’s Shelf Impact?
Who rules the retail shelves these days? I can’t think of a brand in particular, can you? But in every aisle there is a product that stands out so clearly and effectively that other products might as well be invisible. Being first is so important because they won’t get around to seeing number 2.
There are plenty of ways to grab attention at the shelf. For instance, you can throw up a shelf talker to flag them down as they pass. You might even position a cardboard floorstand display right in their walking path. Or how about a shelf display that adds visuals so the shopper sees it? Those will work, however what if you had some uniquely designed packaging to appeal to the shopper’s visual preferences? Is shelf impact really worth it?
If we could grade the attention-grabbing effect of packaging we might call it Shelf Impact. Shelf impact is the visual statement your packaging registers with shoppers. Harris Interactive has a good description of it on their website and how they go about assessing it:
Shelf Impact is designed to measure three important packaging criteria:
- Impact refers to a package’s ability to break through competitive shelf clutter.
- Findability is the ease with which consumers can locate a package.
- Imagery assesses the thoughts and feelings communicated by the package.
Impactful Packaging for the Soap Category
As you can see in this graphic at right, the primary packaging being used in these leading brand bar and shower soaps is very similar and nothing seems to stand out. It’s just not impactful.
Only the passive colours distinguish them in this instance. You might not be able to change your brand logo and colours, but you can change your packaging to stand out. The supermarket soap category is one which could use more innovation in packaging design. Packaging design improvements are more sustainable than price reductions and many boutique soap manufacturers are gaining marketshare through new sexy product designs.
What is everyone doing in retail right now? Price reductions (and launching new house brands).
Creative Soap Packaging Makes an Impact
Small entrepreneurial soap manufacturers such as the Rocky Mountain Soap Company are very much into unique packaging design in order to capture niches in their category. For this higher priced, luxury, health conscious soap market, attractive package design is critically important to sales. And their packaging is relatively simple, normally a paper band around the soap. A larger soap manufacturer could use the same stylish banding with celephane wrappers to create a product that stands out.
Major soap brands such as Dove are innovating in product ingredients which in turn results in some packaging graphic design changes, but as you can see in Figure 1 above, it’s really not enough to grab shopper’s eyes and build preference. Plain and simple gets the low price benefit across, but when will they get off the low price train to nowhere? When a house brand knocks them out?
These are simple low cost solutions. Paper products can be printed digitally which offers excellent colour resolution. On a package of 4 to 10 bars of soap, the designer packaging cost ceases to be as much of a factor. Can a niche designer soap compete with major family market soaps?
It would be naïve to think consumers would prefer well-packaged soap to plain packaged soap that looks inexpensive and has the basic cleaning and moisturizing benefits they’re after. The packaging initially makes it look expensive but if the pricing is similar, their resistance will diminish. I’m contending that packaging that grabs attention will make consumers aware of your product’s value proposition.
If consumers are making more purchase decisions in stores as research shows, then standing out on the shelf or in the aisle is key to competitive survival. House brand soaps haven’t penetrated the supermarket soap category yet, however house brands are invading every other category. Major brand soap manufacturers need to evolve their packaging design to avoid marketshare erosion.
Marketing Chocolate Bars with Impactful Packaging
Another category with the same product packaging challenges is chocolate bars. Shoppers Drug Mart has instore Point of Purchase displays from Lindt showcasing their nicely done primary packaging. There has been design innovation in the chocolate bar segment in recent years. The new designs are more colourful and impactful with some embossing as well. Companies such as Lindt are doing extra POP display campaigns to get attention instore. Lindt must feel the chocolate bar category is worth it and that primary and secondary packaging is the route to growing marketshare.
I believe they’re right. The packaging they and a few other manufacturers are now using gives their chocolate bars a brand lift. They’ve definitely caught my attention and affected my purchase choices. The packaging communicates superior quality and the price is similar to other quality supermarket-grade chocolate bars. The risk for the shopper is decreased and trial is encouraged.
Lindt’s brand as a high priced luxury brand, makes the challenge even greater for them. Their individual product packaging is beautiful and it even feels good to touch. It’s easy to tear away and get to the chocolate bar. It’s an impulse item and they’ve got the graphics to seize on that impulse too. Soap manufacturers who want to compete better should take heed. Studying packaging techniques of boutique product manufacturers is wise. They’re all about shelf impact.