Put packaging on equal footing with product development

The easy trap many new products fall into is placing most of the focus on product development. Success is more likely when the product and package work together.

Why do some products succeed and others fail? The reason well may not be a poor product but rather a lack of synergy between the product and its packaging.

That often is the case with products from independent, upstart companies. Typically, the creative mind behind the product is a whiz at product development, but has little or no experience in marketing. Not surprisingly, the packaging for their new product is treated as an afterthought and therefore fails to deliver an appropriate value proposition to their target audience.

I’ve sat in on consumer focus groups and also heard anecdotally about other products where the consumer sentiment was, “Great product. But the packaging doesn’t reflect how good the product is.”

Those thoughts come to mind in reading an entry from Jim Lowrance on suite101.com. The author clearly is something of an accomplished inventor of products, but the section of his article that analyzes package affordability addresses design considerations merely as matters of cost.

It’s important to approach package design as an investment in a product. The package is not merely the thing that protects the product. It can be essential to expressing a lifestyle choice (think Apple products). Or the right package structure can make a product more efficient in its use (look at the new plastic tubs for Similac baby formula or the clever new angled neck for Soft Scrub Total Bath & Bowl).

It’s more than merely using the right materials cost-effectively. It’s using them in a way that enhances product appeal by spelling out clear benefits quickly. This type of communication can elevate one product over another as shoppers scan the shelves.

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