Numerous packaging redesigns: Too confusing for consumers?

Have you ever considered that the amount of packaging changes is leaving consumers befuddled and frustrated? I heard that from a man stocking shelves at a Ralph’s Supermarket in San Luis Obispo, CA, who wasn’t who I thought he was.

When we struck up a conversation, I’d presumed him to be a Ralph’s employee. Instead, I discovered that Jerry Nash was a sales associate with Gourmet Award Foods, Commerce, CA. Basically, Nash is a distributor.

He shared with me a concern he was hearing: that there were too many package changes.

As editors, packaging changes are our bread and butter, so the more the better. But now I saw the changes through wiser eyes.

Speaking on behalf of befuddled consumers, many of whom he characterized as "older Americans," Nash said that they are confused and confounded by the continual packaging changes, especially graphics changes.

Out of sight, out of mind

For one thing, repackaging can cause a product to be relocated from its usual position. Consumers peruse store shelves looking for a familiar facing, which they certainly won’t find it if not there. And if the packaging has been changed to the point that it is no longer easily recognized, you end up with the "purloined letter ploy" from Poe’s tale: something in plain sight that cannot be seen. Even moving a product a shelf or two can render it missing-in-action for consumers.

Maybe it’s partly a stocking problem, but maybe it’s mainly a packaging mindset challenge. Nash thinks it’s the latter.

At some point, he argues, sticking with the familiar is far less confusing. And likely less costly, especially if you’re losing customers.

More in Home