Successful food packaging requires more than just good looks; here, one design expert shares his advice on combining structure, function, and aesthetics to create containers that entice consumers to buy.
Mike Nicholson, senior vice president of design strategy for the Chicago-based Design Resource Center (DRC), spoke with FoodProductionDaily on what marks a food product needs to come up with a package that resonates with consumers.
What does your company do for food and beverage clients?
DRC specializes in brand strategy and design, both graphic and structural. We work with many Fortune 500 CPGs on their national food and beverage brands; in some cases we are the agency of record and stewards of a brand.
Our partnership with these companies helps with guidance and consistency when marketers join their team and while identifying opportunities for that brand in the marketplace. DRC invests in understanding consumer motivation with our “Brandntel” methodologies; this gives us the ability to be in conversation with a consumer in the current marketplace, helping us and our clients understand issues that motivate them and discover future opportunities for the brand.
To create a package that will grab a shopper’s attention at retail, what key elements should a food company focus on?
All elements are important; shelf presence is always a goal when introducing a product into the marketplace. The language of the category needs to be understood.
How the consumer relates to and understands this language always has to be taken into consideration. Determining how a product can stand out in the crowd takes some skill and creativity.
A relevant and creative name of the product can drive interest and appeal. The visual or graphic language, which the product is dressed in, can make it distinctive.
The shape, structure, material and function of a product or package can also send messages to the consumer about snacking, convenience, quality, or even “gift-ability.”
How might stand-out packaging structure (flexible pouches, unique shapes on rigid containers, etc) encourage product trial?
Shape, size, material, and function—all send a message to a consumer. Structure can be a competitive advantage by making it easy for the consumer to access the contents, by being convenient to store, comfortable to carry, reusable, or have “badge value” and pride in owning the brand.
What are some common missteps that food and packaging firms make in creating or redesigning retail food packaging?
The product development and innovation process can produce many pitfalls along the way. Besides the alignment of consumer needs and brand strategy, some of the most common are maintaining quality and brand consistency across multiple packaging forms, multiple packaging substrates and multiple printers.
Tell us about a recent success story on a DRC food-package project?
Lovely Candy is a story that we are very proud of because of its origin. We had worked with the owner and entrepreneur in the past on a very successful launch of a line of video games and because of that success he continues to work with DRC on all his new initiatives.
His wife, who has food sensitivities and a fondness for licorice, suggested he consider developing a line of quality candy that is gluten free, since she could not find any in the marketplace. He approached DRC with this idea, and we helped him identify the consumer and the competition, then provided a brand strategy. The product has been a huge success and is being carried by national retailers.