One-third of consumer decision-making is based on packaging. For many CPG products, success comes down to standout labeling and design. With dozens of competitors stacked on the shelf next to your brand’s product, it’s difficult to stand out. If done properly, package testing is the solution.

One way many CPG brands opt to get peace of mind is by conducting product packaging research through their insights department. This is the process of testing your product’s packaging so as to optimize its chances of being put in the cart of the buyer.  This post gives more information on when to do package testing, different types of package testing available, and which one is right for you.

When to do Package Testing:

You should do package testing when:

  • You’re getting ready to launch a new product
  • You’re going through a product rebrand
  • Your product is not selling well at supermarkets or other stores that carry competing goods
  • You’re trying to gain company buy-in for a packaging redesign

Ideally, you should do packaging testing iteratively. Testing frequently helps avoid huge missteps while also allowing you and your creative teams to support your decisions with data when delivering to big box retailers and your company at large.

When doing package testing, there are many methodologies for determining which will be most effective on shelves.  This post addresses three of the most talked about options today as well as their benefits and drawbacks.

Virtual Reality

What it is: Virtual reality is the latest shiny, new thing in the world of package testing. VR fully immerses the test subject in a shopping aisle to completely simulate the shopping experience. The idea behind this methodology is that by mimicking the exact scenario in which a consumer selects products, brands can get a better idea of how a consumer might experience their product in the store.

Options for this kind of testing:


  • This process is fun, new, and exciting for the consumer
  • VR mimics the shopping experience in as close a possible way


  • Only so many people have VR headsets, this might not be your target audience
  • Time consuming and labor intensive on both sides
  • More expensive than other research option
  • Not much information on the efficacy of this methodology as it’s fairly new

Clutter Reel

What it is: This is an alternative to the traditional package testing methodology of scrolling a virtual aisle. The respondent is put in their normal exposure environment and allowed to choose rapidly based on impact and recall.

Options for this kind of testing:


  • Mimics the way people view products at the supermarket, glancing quickly and making fast decisions
  • Allows you to figure a solution fast or make a quick fix
  • Test iteratively


  • Battling against entrenched opinion on how package testing should be done
  • Risk of flat data: though this may not be a bad thing
  • Norms have to be precise to be meaningful

Scrolling a Virtual Aisle

What it is: This is one of the most common methodologies for package testing in which the respondent is tasked with scrolling a virtual aisle.

Options for this kind of testing:


  • This is the exact situation your customers would be in
  • Less expensive than VR option


  • This requires a lot of hovering and scrolling for a respondent and may not be as accurate to shopping experience as people think
  • High-abandon rates
  • Respondent fatigue
  • Time consuming and labor intensive on both sides

Package testing can be invaluable if executed on properly. Interested in learning more about clutter reel package testing? Schedule a demo on MMR Impackt Lite here.

Posted by

Sasha Laferte

Sasha Laferte is Zappi's Director of Content, Product, and Engagement. She’s written for a wide range of digital marketing publications including Content Marketing Institute, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Salesforce, Convince and Convert, and HubSpot. Her experience spans writing for marketing software companies to creating viral content for Wenner Media (the parent company of Rolling Stone and Us Weekly). Sasha enjoys marketing, tech, travel, fitness, sushi, and her goldendoodle Barry. Sasha has a BA in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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