Packaging Innovation
April 4, 2014

How to stand out on the shelf when practicality is more important than innovation?

Some retail markets are driven by innovative packaging designs, while others are more restrictive. What strategy can packaging designers use to make their products stand out on the shelves, when innovation is out of the question? It’s a matter that’s been bugging many designers and one that doesn’t have a clear-cut answer, unfortunately. Nevertheless, we will make an attempt.

Cosmetics packaging vs DIY packaging

To demonstrate the difficulty concerning innovative packaging in certain markets have a look at two extreme examples. On one end of the innovation spectrum you have the cosmetics market, featuring luxury products that are often judged on little other than their packaging design. Naturally, cosmetics brands are happy to invest millions and millions of dollars in innovative packaging design as the exterior is the one thing that makes them stand out.

Where to go when there is no room for innovation?

In stark contrast with the cosmetics industry is the DIY sector, where the utilitarian nature of the products and the consumers’ price sensitivity by and large restrict the level of packaging innovation. To put it bluntly, there simply is no room to innovate.

Know your target audience and be clear on the box

So how can packaging still make a difference in large DIY stores? The key to successful packaging in any market is thorough research and a clear understanding of your demographic. Knowing your target audience, their tastes, the way they live and, ultimately, why they’re buying your product is essential. While not innovative, your packaging certainly has to make crystal clear what your product is and what it does exactly. In other words: recognizability first, design second. When presented with a shelf of similar looking items (in a DIY store, for instance), consumers just want the product that will do the job best.

When you can make clear what your product does on shelf, your brand will be one step ahead of  the competition.