The importance of packaging for a CPG product is significant. Here’s why:

  • A study done by Proctor and Gamble 25 years ago indicated that consumers pushing a shopping cart down the aisle of a supermarket look at packaging for 1/6th of a second before they decide to stop and look.
  • According to the Food Marketing Institute, if a customer picks up a package, even if they are not familiar with the product, there is a 71% chance they will put it in the shopping cart.
  • A study conducted by Goldman Sachs in the 1990s indicated that for shoppers who shop with a shopping list, >60% of the content of the shopping cart were impulse purchases, thus the importance of packaging to appeal to that impulse.

I think since the great recession of 2008, these last two statistics are not as high, as every indication is that people at all levels of society have changed their behaviors to reflect the economy. But, packaging is still critical because it conveys and confirms our expectation of satisfaction, even if we can’t fully elucidate our expectations. The product has to have an interesting enough presentation to cut through the noise and clutter and appeal to the customer.

You can improve packaging over time, but it has to be incremental improvements, not revolutionary improvements. If the packaging is incompetent from the start, there will be no second chance. If you are in retail distribution, to continue the baseball analogy, “Strike one. You’re out.”

Moreover, how happy do you think retailers will be, if any of them are stocking the product, when you announce “all new packaging”? Retailers will want you to pick up the old packaged product at your expense. Also, category managers usually look carefully at the packaging of any new products presented to them and if the packaging is unclear, the use of the product is ambiguous and benefits are not screaming headlines, your chances of getting retail distribution shrink significantly.

Try to get the major stuff with your packaging right the first time, which is color and key differentiating features about what your product delivers over the competition. Make it crystal clear for the consumer…don’t make them think. Packaging flows from the overall brand strategy.