Think beyond the box

June 20, 2017By Behind the Shelf Blog, Brand Marketing

by Dave Wendland

Having spent 25 years in this industry – so far – and consulting with hundreds of consumer healthcare product manufacturers looking to make their mark in a particular category or within a specific retailer, I continue to see a common mistake. Too many overzealous manufacturers put all of their time, energy, and attention into designing an award-winning box for their item but they forget one of the most elementary factors: that box will be discarded shortly after purchase! Not to mention, with a mere three to seven seconds at shelf to stand out from competitors, will that fancy box alone tell your story?

So, my advice is to always think beyond the box. Often during one of our Collaborative Strategy Sessions, we devote time to discussing factors that can make a difference to the success of the product. And, although important for initial impact, this conversation cannot start and stop with the outer packaging alone.

Here are four suggestions that should be considered when launching or restaging a brand. And none of these have to do with the outer box itself…you will soon discover that it is what’s inside and around the box that matters most.

Messaging on the inner bottle/pack

Not only is the idea of positioning key information on the inner bottle/pack an excellent opportunity to reinforce the brand name and manufacturer – it is a necessity. Why? Because once the customer has discarded the box, they need to know what in the world they are left with in their hand. This inner bottle represents the one reminder of the product that the shopper purchased and may be the only link back to the shelf when they are looking to purchase it again. Incongruity here can be a death spiral for a brand.

Complementary product information

Unless you are truly a single SKU (stock keeping unit) brand, chances are you have other sizes, flavors, forms, or related items in your brand portfolio. Why not use the space inside the package to describe these complementary solutions. In fact, if you have a fascinating brand story (something that more and more shoppers are gravitating toward – especially millennials), include that on the back panel of the complementary product information insert or pamphlet.

At shelf pamphlet/consumer information

If you’re like me, your eyes may not be as good as they once were. Consider that your shoppers’ vision isn’t as good either. Expecting a consumer to read the fine print on any package to understand the key differences between your brand and competing products is unlikely. Instead, work with your retail partner and/or enhance your visual and textual web assets to explain the product in easy-to-understand terms. Use pictures, icons, and bulleted lists to aid in comprehension.

Total merchandising solutions

One final consideration as you review your packaging to remind you not to make the mistake of relying too much on the outer package. Depending on the category, creating an environment for the brand to reside in may be required. We have certainly seen this within the beauty category, however, it is emerging in other categories also, including sport beverages, vitamins and supplements, pet nutrition, and food, among others. Whether it’s shelf-ready packaging design that includes a displayer, or a more sophisticated, backlit beauty fixture, the total merchandising solution can attract, entice, and engage consumers at their point of purchase.

So, why think beyond the box? Because that outer box is only a container. Yes, a very important container. But the rest of the story and your brand success depends on your ability to think beyond the box.