Packaging Logo January 31, 2014 Forward
Package Development
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12 Tips for selling new packaging ideas to retailers...
main image Ron Romanik, Contributing Editor
The biggest retail chains in the U.S. and Europe hold most of the cards when it comes to negotiating the look and feel of new products and packages for their shelves. When proposing new products or packages, whether informally or in person, it's critical to be prepared. Retailers are looking for new ideas, but they have to be truly new. Here are a few tips to impress the retail chain gatekeepers.

1. Offer something new and different. Whenever possible, try to create a truly new packaging/product concept or brand presentation. You need a "Wow!" first. Find a niche that's underserved, or take the lead on an emerging consumer trend. And don't be afraid of being very product-specific. If the idea is a good one, it will be expandable to a broader strategy. Find a balance between differentiating from the current landscape and remaining relevant to current customers' lives. It's a balance that some in the industry call "meaningful disruption."

2. Develop a unique story. Think of the marketing angle as a fully realized story, and be able to present it that way. Then explain how the packaging presentation tells that story. Anticipate your competitors' stories, or ones you suspect that the retailer has heard before. Refine the story until it's brief and concise—and have a strong, committed point of view. Understand the realities of shelf sets and planograms, and make the case for eye-level placement for niche products.

3. Create packaging that adds new value. Creativity is the only limitation in developing packaging that is more functional, is easier to open, is more fun to use, has an extended life, or turns into a "product" of its own. An easy way to add value with boxes and cartons is to experiment with still under-utilized paperboard design features such as fifth panels, functional flaps, special cuts, surprise interior panels, and engaging sustainability stories.

4. Don't try to compete on price alone. Understand that most retailers now have several tiers of private label products. They are constantly thinking about how to compete on price, which may not be so difficult especially with their lower margin expectations. Nevertheless, be prepared to explain your pricing structure and tiering possibilities. Don't be surprised if the retailer asks to inspect your operations, and come prepared with a distribution plan to supply products "just-in-time." Whenever it makes sense, have an environmental story to tell. Retailers are keenly interested in packaging environmental improvements and the metrics that show it.
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