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Judged By Their Cover: How Packaging Design Impacts Sales

October 4, 2019

The LocatorX Team

October 4, 2019

After nearly 150 years in the condiment game, Heinz decided to turn things on their head. Specifically, the design for its ketchup bottles.  


In an adventurous package redesign, Kraft Heinz in Canada turned the label to the side and slightly downward. The goal was to help illustrate the ideal angle to pour out the precarious sauce; when turned correctly, the unmistakable label will face the correct direction.  


The left-field design came on the heels of a rough financial period for Kraft Heinz (Kraft acquired Heinz in 2015). Across 2017 and 2018, the world’s fifth largest food company saw its revenues fall by $229 million. This eye-grabbing package design may be part of an effort to shake up sales, like diner patrons shake a ketchup bottle. And it may be just the beginning, if the package redesign see results in the test market. 


Just like a new haircut or a new moniker, an updated package design can be the kick in the pants that some products need at certain moments in their lifecycle. Despite the old saying, consumers tend to judge products by their covers. The following stats help to illustrate the point: 


  • 72% of consumers say packaging design can influence their buying decisions. (Source)
  • 64% of consumers will try a new product because the packaging catches their eye. (Source)
  • 41% of consumers will continue to buy a product because they prefer the packaging. (Source)


For consumer brands, rolling out a new package design for a live product is no small undertaking. It requires substantial time and resources, and is a high stakes gamble with consumers. According to one study, an estimated 90% of packaging redesigns fail to improve a product’s sales. (Reported pitfalls include limited creative exploration early in the redesign process and lack of objective consumer feedback along the way.)


With that being said, there is no denying the importance of an appealing package design — for both sales and a customer’s general sentiments about your brand — even if it takes a couple tries to get right. And for many winning brands, success means constant reinvention, including multiple redesigns along a product’s lifecycle.


Packaging designs are not just a way to heighten customer engagement and communicate your company voice. They are also, increasingly, an opportunity for improvements toward sustainability efforts, which can set the tone for company-wide values and practices. This can also speak volumes to existing and potential customers.


Studies on the topic touch on packaging materials, in addition to the designs themselves. These studies help to connect the dots between sustainable packaging and brand reputation. 


The following stats were compiled in a 2018 joint study by the Paper and Packaging Board and IPSOS. 


  • 67% of consumers agree that when selecting which products to buy, they’re often influenced by the material they’re packaged in.
  • 68% of consumers said they were most likely to buy something in a paper or cardboard package if given the choice between paper or plastic.
  • 71% of consumers said they were more likely to buy brands that package their products in paper or cardboard more than other materials.
  • 63% of consumers said that they were more likely to buy products packaged in paper or cardboard because they can reuse the packaging.
  • 63% of consumers said that paper and cardboard packaging makes a product seem premium or high quality. 
  • 83% of consumers said that paper and cardboard packaging can be innovative.
  • 69% of consumers said that paper and cardboard packages makes products seem more artisanal or handcrafted. 

In the milliseconds after someone sees a product on a store shelf, they will form impressions about the product, the company, and its leadership. If they connect with the product design —  from shape to functionality to aesthetic — it can open the door for years of repeat business. 


The standards are quickly rising, as companies large and small are pushing the limits of what a package design can (and should) be. So to keep up and stand out — in the right ways —  product teams need to stay informed of the proven strategies and the evolving trends related to packaging design.


Check out the following articles from 99Designs for additional insights:


The Ultimate Guide to Product Packaging Design


9 Inspiring Packaging Design Trends for 2019


As supply chain technology evolves, the possibilities of package design expand — and beyond just the look and feel. A well-designed and made package can benefit your business in ways not previously possible. 


For example, advanced design with quality, sustainable materials can help prevent counterfeiting of products, improving your promise of safety to customers. And intelligent tracking of assets, with smart labels or chips worked into a product’s package, can help prevent theft or malicious activity as products reach their final destination. 


(Read how LocatorX is working to help brands with these initiatives.)


In all likelihood, packaging design will be a trending topic in consumer goods for the foreseeable future. Designs will be greener, and bolder, as the creativity continues flowing in the space, while more and more businesses realize that a small package redesign is a big deal.


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