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The secret to successful packaging design – PART 3

CreativeAccording to the dictionary irresistibility is impossible to refuse, oppose, or avoid because it is too pleasant, attractive, or strong.

Isn’t this the kind of packaging design you want to have on shelf? Can you imagine the impact on your sales with an irresistible pack?

Irresistible brands and products have a “chemistry” to them. These products excite and ignite an urge within their target market that taps into their subconscious mind. This emotional drive goes beyond the rational. The impulse to own is automatic. It’s unconscious. The need is driven by the target consumer’s senses which create an immediate compulsion. The brand or product has an irresistible point of difference that matters to the target market, making the brand/product irresistible.

Two key elements that make an on shelf pack irresistable are:


The targeted consumer is the key to irresistibility. Effective packaging designers understand that consumers who identify with a certain group or class of people are attracted to products and brands that help them express alignment or membership with that group.

Brand marketers who are willing to take advantage of this approach end up creating such a strong identity with the brand/product that details don’t seem to matter to the consumer. As the saying goes “it’s what the bag represents that’s important, not what it does!”

With this branding principle in mind, effective packaging design doesn’t simply “contain” the product inside; effective packaging design portrays the product within the pack in terms of its target customers.

The packaging design explains just how this particular product will benefit them and more importantly why the consumer needs to select it above every other option available on the shelf. The packaging aligns with the target group, making them feel special. It has them connected like members of an elite group. The focus is then based on the particular features and their subsequent benefits which relate specifically to members of that group.

Don’t compromise on fit

Irresistible brands and product packaging power is derived from their perfect fit with needs which are specific to a targeted consumer group and their particular circumstances.

Like a powerful magnet, irresistible brands and their on shelf packs have the ability to attract large numbers of particular consumers towards them. These brands and product packs are actively positioned toward targeted individual they are appealing to. They have purposely built their brand propositions and business models single-mindedly around them.

The courage to individuate

These brands and product packs differentiate like they really mean it. Wise marketers know that the benefits of irresistibility far outweigh the risk of turning some consumers away.

Just as one wouldn’t think of going to McDonald’s expecting a wine list or candelabra on the tables, so too strong marketers clearly understand the nature of the need-states they’re targeting. Then they brief their packaging designers on satisfying these individual needs with exceptional discipline across time and touch-points. This will be done despite the many temptations and voices calling out to compromise.

Alignment at every touchpoint

Each experience a consumer has with a brand/product across every touchpoint will either align or fail to align with the consumers’ expectations. These experiences will affect the position that brand holds within the consumer’s brain. Individualisation helps determine how irresistible the brand truly is.Individualisation thinking must be applied with determination and discipline if a brand or product is to achieve the required dominance of the consumers instinctive and considered decision-making.


The design must be relevant to the targeted consumer – emotionally connecting the target market with their desired outcome.


To be irresistible brands and their products don’t just need a point of difference (POD); they need a point of difference that really matters to their target consumers. This means having the courage to focus on the specific unique selling proposition even when it means rejection by some.

Emotional connection

In essence, its emotion that provides irresistible brands and their products unique meaning and purpose in the eyes of their target consumers. Authors Roz Calder and Michael Cook who are part of TNS International (Global research company), explain that “This meaning becomes an instinctive attraction that goes beyond a considered, rational reason for purchase. All irresistible brands have a strong emotive fit with consumers in a particular need-state, and it is this that connects them so effectively”.

Calder and Cook go on to say that it is “Emotion that gives irresistible brands unique meaning and purpose as perceived by their target market consumers, and an instinctive attraction that goes beyond considered, rational reasons for purchase.”

Irresistible products on the retail shelf have a powerful emotive resonance with their target market and their specific needs and wants. It is this emotional pull that connects them so effectively. Being irresistible is an aspiration every brand and their products should strive for.

Clear differentiation

How clear is the differentiation of your product on the retail shelf comparative with the other options available? According to studies by PRS, – (Perception Research Services) who use eye tracking technology for measuring packaging design effectiveness, they found that consumers will spend less than 10 seconds at a particular grocery category.

Consumers fail to notice and consider over 1/3rd of the brands in any particular category. Therefore for a design to gain and hold attention on shelf, the pack must cut through the clutter long enough to implant your message.

Maximise visual impact

The appearance of a pack needs to entice your target consumers to come in for a closer look. Great packaging designers use the principles of design that shape and colour to distinguish your product from the competition. This makes it easy for consumers to understand your product from their first glance.

In situ

The best designs don’t always present well on the retail shelf even though they may look fantastic in concept. Until and unless you have seen a mock up of your pack … in situ … in real life on a real retail shelf, you’ll never understand why it works or fails.

A successful pack needs a 6 PACK WOW factor

Consumers are not meant to think about a pack, they are meant to experience it. If brands want to compete seriously with their competitors & hold-back the private label brands they will need to use creativity and innovation as a competitive edge.

A 6 PACK WOW package:

  1. Elevates perception within the category
  2. Creates interest involving the targeted consumer at multiple levels
  3. Is groundbreaking in its approach
  4. Both the brand and the product are ONE with each other
  5. The pack stands out in a sea of me too’s
  6. Connects emotionally with consumer

Ian Segail is the General Manager – Operations at Sydney-based branding, packaging and design agency Jam&Co.
Read Part 1 of the series here.
Read Part 2 of the series here.

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