The first day of Spring has come and gone, and while most people look forward to springtime because of warmer weather and blooming flowers, there’s one thing many of us don’t love about it… I’m talking about the dreaded “spring cleaning.” But despite the drudgery and time-consuming nature of the chore, there’s an upside to hours upon hours spent purging, cleaning, and reorganizing: more shelf space!
In your home, that extra shelf space means new places to put knick-knacks and decor, but have you ever wondered what spring cleaning means for retail spaces? Because I work in packaging, I began to think about how stores have their own seasonal tidying and rearranging, and what that means for others in the packaging industry. Have you ever noticed just how many new products have new, revitalized packaging this time of year? The surge of new growth in the environment carries over into the retail world, which is translated through revitalized packaging designs. So, if you’re looking to refresh your packaging design this spring, here are a few key factors to consider.
First, consider whether your product targets shoppers or consumers. You might’ve heard these terms used interchangeably, but shoppers and consumers actually have very different decision-making mechanisms. Consumers, also known as “users,” have requirements that need to be fulfilled by the products they buy for themselves or their families (healthy, durable, filling, tasty). Shoppers, on the other hand, have requirements that need to be fulfilled as part of the shopping process (variety, value, convenience, experience). Shoppers are also referred to as “choosers.” Consumers can have very intense brand relationships, while shoppers have less brand love since they are usually in the “shopping” mode, not the “loving” mode. That makes shoppers a completely different target with a very different brand relationship, which means you need to do your due diligence prior to a spring refresh in packaging. If you want to learn more, explore our course here.
Shoppers search for the latest and greatest products that also have the latest and greatest packaging. Because of the surge in social media popularity, your package now needs to stand out on more than just the retail shelf space. Social media platforms have become the new “shelf,” and e-commerce is on the rise. Today, people spend more time browsing online than they do perusing the aisles in an actual store. David Luttenberger, the global packaging director at market research firm Mintel, feels the past few decades have resulted in e-commerce developments that have had one of the largest global impacts on packaging design the industry has ever seen. “There are so many opportunities for people to think about the next generation of shelf presence, the images on retailers’ websites, and the unboxing experience. In e-commerce, brands are learning that messaging and branding should be split between the shipping container and the interior of the box, with the latter incorporating elements that give consumers a sense of delight and surprise when opening the parcel.”
Take Brooklyn ice cream maker Van Leeuwen, for example. The brand is putting its social media presence at the forefront of its packaging design. The strategy behind the redesign was to make its ice cream pints “very instagrammable.” The clean and subtle design of their new packaging lends itself to catch the attention of consumers in-store, as well as online. “As social media becomes more pervasive, brands also must consider how packaging will look beyond the shelf; it’s crucial to understand how products will come across online and in social media feeds.” After all, with Instagram-worthy photo-ops that this season has to offer, a spring refresh is a great way to let your packaging shine on social media.
There are many different ways to make your product stand out on a physical shelf in a brick-and-mortar store. We found this article that lays out 16 ways to have your product jump off those shelves. Regarding food packaging, they suggest creating a connection between flavor and packaging, while letting the consumer know what they’re getting with your product. Additionally, they suggest changing your packaging with the seasons (ahem, just in time for spring!).
Even if a brand is well-established, people like to see variety in packaging designs. Oreo may be at the top of the chocolate sandwich cookie category, but they continue to find innovative ways to keep fans on their toes. They demonstrated their ability to ride the wave of pop culture, as pointed out in this article, when they released a Game of Thrones-themed packaging design just in time for the show’s final season debut. All of this goes to show that a spring refresh has the potential to elevate your packaging design whether it’s in the grocery store or being “liked” on Instagram!
Want to give your packaging designs a new look this spring, but not sure where to start? Don’t panic—we can point you in the right direction. Head to our packaging certificates and courses below and choose the path that’s right for you!