With pack design, we know that visceral, emotive communication is often more effective in driving purchase than features and benefits, but context plays an equally important role in framing and impacting the purchase decision. This is why understanding the dynamics of the shelf and the category conventions is critical to influencing shoppers.

Our pack design process guides design intuition with behavioural data. It’s an unusual marriage that unleashes creativity aided by category analysis, critical to providing us the insight we need to ensure that the brand will break through, connect viscerally and disrupt habitual shopping behaviour.


More than 80% of all Consumer Packaged Goods are not supported by advertising. This means that most brands live or die by how well their pack design performs on-shelf.

How can a challenger brand compete?

Brands that get noticed by shoppers within the first 10 seconds of them shopping the section are 80% more likely to be purchased. Once noticed, the pack design needs to inform and convince shoppers that it is the best choice among the rest of the competitors. We all know that purchase decisions are a heuristic blend of rational and emotional processes influenced of course by external factors like advertising, brand experience and peer influence. But at the moment of consideration, the opportunity for a challenger brand to catch the shoppers’ attention and disrupt their intended path to purchase is very real!

How do you create disruption?

Context is king. Every category has a different set of conventions, focal points and colour schemes.

The tendency for many challenger brands is to try and “look like the category” for fear that consumers may not find them credible. Often, the better approach is to try to have your pack design stand out – focusing on brand blocking (Oreos), format differentiation (Pringles) and bold graphics (Bear Paws) to set you apart.


There are four main cognitive stages in the buying process. The AIDA model was developed over a hundred years ago. It represents the purchasing funnel where buyers go to and from each stage to arrive at the purchase decision.





Did I notice?

Visibility at shelf through brand blocking, shelf placement and graphics is imperative. Visibility is the single most important contributor to purchase. Not seen is not bought.



Is that for me?

Identify key communication drivers. Express them in language that doesn’t require de-coding. Avoid "marketing-speak" – descriptors such as artisanal and natural are becoming overused and risk joining other casualties of triteness such as "gourmet", "designer colours" and "a panel of experts". Consumers aren’t buying it anymore, they are more interested in knowing what the product is and why they should believe it.



Is it better?

Desire is the most powerful influence at the moment of purchase. As Malcolm Gladwell explains in his book Blink, we decide on whether we like something or not in the blink of an eye. As designers, why do we spend so much time studying and selecting colours? Or capturing the moment when the drizzle of honey has pooled just the right amount? It’s because what we see is what we believe. You have heard the saying, how we say something has more impact than what we say? Creativity resides in how we chose to convey the "moment", telling the story through the right selection and balance of pictures, colours and text.



Should I try?

Action is the desired goal. This is what separates success from failure. If your brand is noticed, if it conveys the right information in the order which consumers want to receive it, if the package is emotionally appealing, if the value proposition is right...then you are in an ideal position to win the sale!


Emotional trumps rational:

Know your category: When selling food, appetite appeal is king. Espresso is all about the foam. Chocolate is indulgence. Every category has its “buttons”.

PACK DESIGN aesthetic appeal is rarely articulated but it often triggers emotional responses and is often the tiebreaker that determines choice. Know the emotional benefits of your brand – express them visually through your pack design.

There’s a catch:

Most of us like to believe that we are the final arbiters of good taste. That notion becomes especially dangerous when marketers who are not the target market, believe that they can speak for consumers. Intuition is a powerful thing but it can also be very costly, especially when weighed against the possibility of a failed launch.

The most effective approach to a successful pack design change is to test the proposed pack design against the current pack design in-situ. Brand changes also require either advertising support or POS support to bring consumers along in the transition. The bigger the change, the bigger the risk.

The solution:

Visual Shopper is a powerful insight tool for testing how a new pack design impacts shopper behaviour.

We have helped many brand owners successfully execute significant brand pack design refreshes and brand transitions by measuring expected in-market impact (.85 correlation to in-field) and empowering the marketing team to make data-driven decisions and optimize business results.

With shopper behaviour data you can get a clear picture of what drives purchases in your category so that brand pack design can be optimized.