Yesterday in Waitrose, I watched a 10-month old toddler in a pushchair lean over to the supermarket basket his father had placed by his pushchair, while his parents chatted, waiting in the queue to pay. He chose this product and some bananas from the other products in the basket. He recognised "his" product by the colours, shape and texture of the packaging. I could see him enjoying the colour and feel of the Ella's Kitchen pouch.
His young, new, mother looked at me and said: "I know I should be making him home-cooked food, and I do but sometimes it's so easy to buy these..."
There is an awful lot of pointless packaging around. By which I mean what I call the "stylised leaves" kind of pack design. The kind that looks blandly "nice", like stuff you've seen a lot of times before. It doesn't offend. But nor does it catch your eye. It's well behaved. The client and the designer probably went through long agonised discussions over it, to create something broadly similar to lots of other packaging. It doesn't say anything much.
There are some pointless products out there in pointless packaging.
The only test of whether your packaging design works in store is sales. It's not what the design agency tells you. It's not what you think as the founder; you're probably too close to your product to judge how it comes across to outsiders to your brand.
Stage One: Does it catch the consumer's eye?
Look at the amount of choice she has here.
I've been in the aisles a lot recently interviewing consumers about packaging - what catches their eyes, what suggests natural and what doesn't, what's new, what's old. Women notice the nuances of packaging: the shape of the bottle, the shine of the cardboard on the cardboard sleeve, the colours, the font, all the pack messaging .... nothing misses their beady gaze.
So, how can you do it well? Here's a new example to learn from.
I repeatedly research pack design and pack communications for Firefly Tonics, innocent drinks, and Rude Health.
For Rude Health, we needed to compel attention for their - newly listed in 350 Tesco stores - granola. And explain what granola is - it's a new category - and unfamiliar. And compete with all those habitual brightly coloured cereal purchases in the cereal aisle. Off the back of the consumer research we did, Rude Health employed a bright colour, made the word Granola very big, made the product shot appealing (it couldn't be a window for technical reasons but it looks like one), listed out the ingredients clearly.