When I was working in branding at SAB Miller in Peru, a key part of brand portfolio was creating a unique package for each brand that would communicate its values and grab the attention of the consumer no matter the context. Countless hours were spent designing bottles, labels, cans, and six-packs that would communicate what it was that the brand stood for, and scream the benefits of the product that lay within. In a sense, it was the packaging that pulled each brand apart into a unified portfolio strategy.


What is the role of packaging?

Packaging allowed the brands to differentiate from each other, whether they stood alone or together. The clear bottle and bright colored label of Barena signified a vibrant product to a consumer who wanted to have a good time out on the time, a product that fit in with nightlife whether it was chilling with friends, at a bar or at a club. The traditional brown bottle of Cristal and classic label told the story of a beer that took pride in its heritage as the national beer of Peru. The modern cut bottle and gold label of Cusquena with its etchings of Incan stones brought forward a product steeped in mysticism, adventure, and unparalleled in quality that was so uniquely Peruvian. Each brand had its mission, and the packaging executed that on the ultimate level, the consumer interaction level.


How consumers are interacting with the packaging?

You have to believe that the consumer is interacting with your packaging in more places than just the supermarket. Today’s consumer is making subconscious decisions as to what they buy, and may only realize later what it is they actually bought. Think about it, how many times have you bought the ‘wrong’ brand of something and never realized it till you were unpacking your groceries at home? As a result that packet of what you thought was Barilla spaghetti sits in your pantry unused until you suddenly notice it two years later. “Holy S#!&, is that expired…yes it is, that’s disgusting.” We forget that our interactions with packaging are to elicit brand loyalty as we drink from the bottle, handle the box, pour, open, and consume.


So why do we design package testing that assumes it is all about the shelf space? I will admit that the supermarket shelf is where we purchase most of our packaged goods, but if the decisions that the consumer makes within those confines is subconscious, then why are we testing for a decision we have no way of understanding if we are actually a part of or not! Read that sentence again, think about it, you know I’m right. We must aim for the moments in which a consumer parts from their subconscious and makes either a calculated or spontaneous decision. For a beer that may be the moment a consumer peers over the bar and at the fridges, looking for subtle cues as to what may quench their thirst. For a candy bar it may be the moment a tired shopper is letting the cashier take over and peers over at the chocolates displayed in front of them in search of that trusty brown wrapper that signals the peanut, caramel, and chocolatey goodness hidden within.


How ZappiStore products respond to this situation?

We have but a moment to stop them, but a lifetime to engage with them. This is why I am so fond of the Impackt Lite tool by MMR that is available on ZappiStore. The ability to track the stopping power of a new design along with how it relates to brand recognition and recall as well measuring the expectations that it promises to communicate against what consumers actually take away. There is power in the simplicity of agile research when pack testing. Our ability at ZappiStore to get consumer feedback on packaging early, often, and quickly, in a way that takes into account the mindset of the consumer is key to a product’s success. Over engineering surveys and shelf settings is dead, if we want to capture the consumer we need to think agile, and you need to think Zappi.

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