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Posted on September 7, 2016 | Connie Tran
Selling product is a monumental task because of the competitive environment in which businesses play. Imagine looking at a product on a physical store shelf or a “store page” on a website. Those products are like a classroom of students, all vying for your attention; shouting, raising their hands to get a minute of your time. How do you select who to talk to first? Which “student” is capturing your attention best?
You have less than 90 seconds before someone’s subconscious makes a decision about a product. Just 90 seconds to grab their attention and trigger emotional responses to get them to pick up the product. So how does your product break through the clutter and noise to land in their shopping cart? There are many factors to consider but package design and placement of product are a good place to start.
Ninety-three percent of consumers say the appearance of a product is a key factor in their decision to purchase. Color triggers the initial emotional reaction of the consumer and helps generate first impressions of a product.
It’s a powerful yet simple product characteristic that affects buying behavior. Certain colors paired together cognitively evoke different emotions and reactions. For example, warm colors like red and orange can evoke love and excitement. Cool colors like blue and purple can give the feeling of trust and strength.
Below is a quick rundown of the primary/secondary colors and the emotions they elicit.
- Red is a strong, energetic and intense color (also known as the color of love). This color is known to increase heart rate, bring excitement and stimulate appetite (which is why it is popular with fast food chains).
- Yellow is an uplifting, youthful and happy color. Think happy face icons and emojis. It is the brightest of all the colors and can really grab your attention. However, be careful with how much yellow is used on packaging. Its brightness can easily fatigue consumers’ eyes.
- Blue signifies honesty, a sense of calm and is a color that elicits trust. Blue also symbolizes water, blue sky and a sense of serenity. It is probably the most used color in the corporate world because of its trustworthy reputation.
- Green is a color of balance and harmony, like nature. It is soothing and usually conveys health and growth. Human eyes are more sensitive to green so we are able to see more shades of this color. Green packaging is found in many natural and organic products.
- Orange is the color of excitement and friendliness. Because it emulates the color of the sun, it can add warmth and depth. This color is one of the most visible colors to capture one’s attention. Safety gear is a great example.
- Purple is traditionally the color of power, wisdom and authority. This color is calming and heightens one’s senses. It is considered sacred as it is a rare color found in nature.
Stroll down the candy isle in your neighborhood convenience store and you’ll notice color themes and patterns–in this case, brown is a predominant color for candy as consumers subconsciously associate chocolate with brown colors.
Each color by itself can be powerful but when you pair different colors together, it can bring a whole new emotional aspect to the product’s packaging. Consider pairing different colors and tints (intensity of a color) together to better evoke the emotions of your product. Baby products tend to possess light pastel colors in blue, green, yellow and pink hues to evoke an understanding that babies will feel happy and comfortable when the product is used. In addition, products targeted to older kids tend to be bright and vibrant, reflective of the age group’s behaviors and personalities. Solid primary and secondary colors capture the fun, exciting aspects of the product, which is appealing to this demographic. To learn more about how color influences mood and see examples of color pairings in ads, click here.
Color can also be used to represent different product characteristics (e.g. where the product comes from, ingredients of the product, etc.) Let’s take bottled water for example. Most bottled water packages use the color blue. This gives the consumer the impression that the water is from a pure and clean source like a clear, blue lake on the top of a mountain somewhere far way (e.g. Fiji water). Now, let’s consider the candy isle. Perhaps you are looking for some kind of chocolate treat. Sub-consciously, you are trying to spot the items in brown/black packaging, which obviously is the color characteristic of chocolate.
While color is important in overall package design, the shape of the product’s package is also a factor that can influence consumer’s buying decisions.
Water bottle label designs don’t stray far from what consumers expect when purchasing water – a clear, crisp refreshment symbolized by blue and white colors.
Imagine everything on the shelf is the same size and shape. It is difficult to tell them apart. A different shape or optical illusion with design will make consumers stop and take a second look. Let’s use our bottled water example again. Look at the shape of bottled water. Most have the traditional bottle silhouette, narrow at the top of the neck and wider at the bottom. But what happens when you package it in a juice box or carton? It catches your attention. Consumers are wired to look for anomalies and things out of the ordinary, so different packaging materials, styles and shapes will help capture consumer attention.
Shape can also help portray characteristics that color cannot. For example, a smaller sized package may convey convenience or that the product is in a smaller portion, signaling to the consumer that he/she is less likely to feel guilty when consuming it. Tall and skinny packages can be perceived as a healthier product for those looking to lose weight. Blocky square, rectangular packaging feels solid and stable.
Product “Shelf” Placement
Your product on a physical shelf
Next let’s look at the placement of your product. Where are customers going to be when they look for your product? Are they making an impulsive buy or does your product fill a bigger need? Does your product require education? A keen understanding of your target audience (what motivates them to buy, age, gender etc.) will help you understand how to position your product.
Products placed at eye level will usually get the most attention. For example, kid-focused gum products are usually placed in the lower third of the shelf to keep these products at eye-level for younger customers. If your product falls in the impulsive arena, think about placing your product near the checkout location. Since people waiting in line have already picked up what they came in for, they are more open to non-essential items or things they never think about buying.
If the product requires some explanation, consider creating some point-of-sale collateral (also known as POS). POS can be a wobbler, a sign, pop-up, etc. This creates opportunity to show how the product is used, bringing more attention to an already-crowded shelf space and inviting people to pick up the product. While the placement of your product is generally at the discretion of store manager, it is important to discuss the best place for maximum sales and activity. They want to sell products that are right for their customer and move them—hence why color and packaging design are critical components.
Placement doesn’t just refer to where the product is on the shelf, it also refers to the type of store in which your product is placed. If your product falls in the natural food or luxury category, it doesn’t make sense to sell it at a gas station or convenience store. At a convenience store, customers are looking for quick, portable and affordable novelty items. Consider where your customers will be when they are considering your product.
Your product on a virtual shelf (online)
If you sell your product online, having the product on the right websites and in the right category makes a huge difference when customers are searching for a particular item. Being a featured product or placed prominently at the top of the computer screen adds authority and captures attention.
Unlike, physical store shelves, where products vie for attention in a limited space, online, you have a lot more “space” to share details about how the product works, why it’s different and even show a video of the product’s appeal and utility (wink, wink). Additionally, customers tend to spend more time researching products. Reviews and testimonials gives customers insight and can help verify the claims.
While there are many factors that go into selling your product, first impressions are key. Make sure you consider these essential design and placement elements. Color not only increases awareness, it also increases brand recognition by 80 percent. Combine color with creative packaging, and your product will undoubtedly be more memorable and appealing to your target audience. Remember, there is only 90 seconds before someone moves on to the next product consideration. Make your product make its mark on impressionable consumers.
- Connie Tran