Image courtesy of Inmagine (PTG01164727)

Written by David Pettitt, Senior Art Director of Michon.

Not all of retail is equal, and those designing for one market may well have a much easier time than those creating for another. Here Dave Pettitt, senior art director at design and marketing agency Michon, explains how difficult areas of retail can be tackled.

As most readers here will know, some sectors of retail are prime targets for innovative packaging design. Others, meanwhile, present many more challenges.

The cosmetics market, for example, features luxury products that can often be judged on little other than their packaging design. Those brands are therefore happy to invest in striking, experimental and often elaborate designs, where the packaging can sometimes cost as much as the product inside it!

Conversely, a market such as the DIY sector can be very restrictive because of the utilitarian nature of the products within it and its consumer price sensitivity. This is something we at Michon have to consider when creating packaging designs for one of our longest standing clients, Ronseal.

Huge DIY stores can be challenging environments for any brand to stand out in. The sheer variety of products, together with all of their subcategories stacked high on the shelves, can make for a daunting and confusing consumer experience. Particularly for those who are not seasoned DIYers.

The key to successful packaging in any market is, of course, thorough research and a clear understanding of your demographic together with their reasons for purchase. Everything from where they live and what job they have, to their social aspirations and even the décor of their house, can be used to build up a picture of your target audience. In a marketplace that is crowded with just about every conceivable product, the USPs should be represented clearly from the outset, as these form the criteria for the concept, and appeal to the values of that audience. The design then needs to work to not only convey the product’s message, but actually influence the purchase decision.

With Ronseal, our approach has always been just that. Firstly to separate the various products by their packaging into clutter-free, clearly defined categories – easily and quickly recognisable to any customer who might see them all merchandised together. Then to simplify the on-pack and POS messages to make it absolutely clear what the product is for – a vital tactic in reinforcing Ronseal’s “does exactly what it says on the tin” strapline. Not only that but it also gives the consumer confidence in what they’re buying, which in turn instills trust in the brand.

This simplicity is what clarifies the product’s message in a competitive but restricted environment. When presented with shelves of similar-looking items, shoppers just want the product that will do the job best – particularly as they may pick up two rivals to compare side by side. An honest and fast message is what, in this scenario, wins out over a more complicated design.


About the author
This article was written by David Pettitt, the Senior Art Director at Michon. A creative agency in Nottingham, UK.


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