Standing out in seconds

September 25, 2015By Behind the Shelf Blog, Brand Marketing

by Dave Wendland

Three to six seconds. That’s the time a typical consumer takes at shelf to locate a product. This inexplicably short amount of time poses a serious conundrum for both the retailer and the manufacturer. Why? Because the consumer is controlling the outcome.

That said I believe there are four critical package elements that a manufacturer can incorporate to increase the likelihood of winning favor with the consumer.


Make it stand out from the crowd. Certainly that was Kimberly-Clark’s direction with U by Kotex®. Not only did they introduce the first black-toned box to the Feminine attract shopper attention and propel purchasesProtection category, they added bright whimsical colors that literally jumped off of the package. The result: U by Kotex is now the fastest growing brand in the category and it continues to win praise from shoppers.

So, think outside the traditional palette and bring something new to the category that will attract shopper attention and propel purchases.


The best example I have is EOS™ lip balm. Although I was one of the early skeptics that such a distinctive shape could earn placement within the category at retail, let alone gain trial. Boy, was I wrong. EOS reinvented the entire category attracting new shoppers, and building brand awareness through its novel package design and delivery.


That’s right, symbols that can be used to identify the brand even before a consumer has to read the rest of the packaging. Coca-Cola® recently removed the words from their soft drink cans in the Middle East in recognition of Ramadan in an effort to communicate that labels are for cans not people and promote open-mindedness and tolerance. The Coca-Cola ribbon is the second most recognized logo in the world. Only Nike® has a more iconic identifier; and they paid a designer only $35 for the original. I’d say that’s a pretty good investment.


Remember back in your grade school days when teachers would tell you that legibility is important? That hasn’t changed. Make the font simple to read. Script text, reverse colors, and funky shadows may look very nice in a design studio. There is literally no place for them on the shelf.

So there you have it – four steps to standing out on the shelf. Now think about your own packaging – what will draw shoppers to pick up your product in six seconds or less?

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