Retail Reality

It is crucial to understand how packaging design helps the consumer differentiate among products on shelf. Considering how a packaging design appears in the environment in which it will live is the final step in the design process. Creating a packaging design that sells—or “wins at retail”4—means capturing consumers' attention. A packaging design must connect with consumers in a meaningful way; it cannot drive sales if the consumer does not see it.

Visibility in the retail environment is the most important factor. Forgetting to take shelf impact into consideration when launching a product can result in weak sales results. In fact, getting lost on shelf may contribute to the reasons why so many new products fail. Stores present many obstacles to product visibility: a busy, cluttered physical environment, problematic lighting, awkward shelf heights and aisle widths, and so on. Added to those is the challenge of having the product shelved properly.

Product facing (positioning the packaging design on shelf) and organizing an entire brand on shelf places significant responsibility for the visibility of a packaging design in someone else's hands. Pricing stickers, often placed directly over the brand identity or another critical aspect of the design, are another often overlooked distraction from the impact of a product's packaging in store.

Understanding how shoppers behave and experience different retail environments can inform the strategic designer. Color blocking, ...

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