Free Subscription

  • Access daily briefings and unlimited news articles


Only $34.95 per year
  • Quarterly magazine and digital
  • Indepth executive interviews
  • Unlimited news and insights
  • Expert opinion and analysis

PART 6: The secret to successful packaging design

seeSecret Ingredient 6: Be Seen

Why do companies invest millions of dollars in compelling copywriting? Simple! Because compelling copy sells.

The same applies to clear and convincing packaging design. Why invest heavily in OUTSTANDING (design that disrupts the shelf) packaging design? Because compelling packaging design sells.

Being truly seen

Have you ever felt like you were “invisible”? Have you ever experienced not being truly seen by others? Maybe it was at school, maybe even at home amongst your own family, or maybe in your early roles at work? Have you ever felt like people were always more “into” or interested in everyone else? Have you ever had the feeling that there wasn’t really anyone who truly cared about really knowing you deeply? Has it ever felt like the core of who you were was and what made you … you, just wasn’t welcome? Well this is what’s meant by not being seen.

You may very well have a product or products on the retail shelf that simply fade into obscurity. They are just not truly seen.

By truly seen, I don’t mean bright flouro pink that completely disrupts the shelf just to grab attention. All that does is drag potential consumers over to the shelf only to buy someone else’s product. Nobody likes a loud and brassy salesperson.

No, truly being seen on the retail shelf means that your product is seen on the shelf, your product is loved, appreciated and valued for what it truly is. All of this is what the product packaging needs to convey.

Truly see, love and appreciate the product yourself first

When it comes to selling, research has borne out the fact that if a salesperson doesn’t believe in the promise of the product, they will struggle to convince people to buy from them. This is why a brand new salesperson often outsells their more senior peers. They haven’t yet been corrupted by unfulfilled promises.

To effectively sell from a product pack on shelf the designer and the marketer must truly know the product deeply, this includes its strengths, flaws, added value, and core purpose. Why is it worthy of being valued? Your targeted consumer won’t be able to see the value of your product until you see and value it for yourself. If you don’t believe it, you can’t sell it. You can’t sell it into your designer and they won’t be able to translate their design into something your target market will value.

The key: Other people can’t see and value your product until you see and value it yourself. They also can’t love and appreciate it until you love and appreciate it yourself!

Knowing its real worth

It’s vitally important to know the real value of your product/s. Whilst there are so many ‘me too’ products that sit on a retail shelf, even if yours is not unique in and of itself, you as the marketer MUST find something … that ONE thing, the one gift that is inherent within the product.

What is it that makes it unique? As marketers we often tend to place our products worth in the hands of others. We rely on research to tell us what the customer will deem as valuable. The fact is your product/s worth is inherent within it. Your target market will only love, value and appreciate your product’s value … when you know it and can spell it out.

Regardless of the mistakes and failures made in the past, if you want consumers to see and appreciate your product/s for what they truly are, then you need to know and honor that worth. Discovering the true value of a product takes work. It takes effort to peel back the onion layers. This is why most marketers don’t do it. That said if you want your product to be truly seen on shelf, uncovering its true worth is essential.

The key: You teach others, your designers, your agency, your distributors, your suppliers and your consumers how to treat your product by how you treat it yourself.

What if …

  • What if you only had one product to sell? How much time and attention would you devote to ensuring its success?
  • What if you truly believed in the promise of your product/s on shelf? How much more time and attention would you invest to ensure they were seen on shelf for what they truly were?
  • What if there was more value to your product/s than simply price? What if you could clearly articulate it?
  • What if your distributors held your products in the same esteem as you did?
  • What if you were able to effectively show potential customers the full depth and breadth of everything your product/s has to offer?
  • What if your packaging could transfer the same confidence you have for your products to your target consumer?
  • What if your product packaging presented the product’s intrinsic value, would your targeted consumer actually pay more if they thought it would give them significant value?
  • What if you truly honored your product like it was when it was initially conceived?

How true is your perception of your product/s?

What does it mean to truly see another person? As human beings we tend to run on automatic programs. In fact neuroscience suggests that as much as 97% of what we think is automatic in nature. Often we bring all of our childhood conditioning and limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world into our interactions with others. The result of this is that we don’t really see other people for who they truly are because more often than not, we are actually seeing our own projections instead. We tend to see what we expect to see. How true then is this for you when you look to SEE your products? How much of your own perception is clouding how you SEE your products?

“Familiarity breeds contempt”

Ordinarily, the expression “familiarity breeds contempt” refers to what often happens in long-standing relationships and marriages. The idiom suggests that over time many relationships begin to break down because of a lack of caring or appreciation. Contempt is the emotional reaction to not feeling cared for and perhaps disrespected. On the other hand, when we feel valued by our partners, our relationships are inclined to thrive. When we devalue our partners, contempt becomes very prevalent.

Have you become too “familiar” with your products? Do you still get excited by the value they will bring to their customers. All too often as marketers we get caught up in the KPI’s, the revenue, the budgets and we move away from the regard our customers still feel for our product.

Seeing the true value

Exchange value – To know how to create the value in a product & value in business, has been a topic that philosophers have debated for millennia. For most business people, value roughly translates into price. This is the amount a consumer is willing to give us in the marketplace, in exchange for our products. This is known as “exchange value” and is the base on which most business is done.

Utility value – Economists have a different notion of value, which is its “use value,” or utility value. Utility value is all about how valuable something is to me. It’s not the exchange value that you and your consumers both agree on, rather, it’s how much use, I as an individual consumer, will get out of your product. This means that our consumers varying perspectives or circumstances might well result in wildly differing valuations for the very same thing.

Intrinsic value – Whilst both ‘exchange’ and ‘utility’ value are in essence a means to some other end, “intrinsic value” is a fundamental consequence of something’s very existence. Every now and then there comes along a marketer who operates in the field of intrinsic value creation. They SEE into the heart of the product. They focus obsessively on quality or on design.

Intrinsic marketers pay an inordinate amount of attention to how their products are actually being used by customers – “not just whether those customers are satisfied with them, but whether they are successful with them”. This was the philosophy of Steve Jobs as he built Apple. He was obsessed with the intrinsic nature of an Apple product. This intrinsic value also explains Google’s obsession with providing users a positive user experience from websites. The product as seen by “intrinsic value” providers is not just a means to make money. These offerings have intrinsic value in and of themselves.

Whilst your products may or may not have “intrinsic value”, unless your whole marketing focus is based on exchange value (price) then it’s essential that you discover and celebrate your products ‘utility value’. In other words, if you aren’t going to highlight your products intrinsic value, at least focus on its utility value.

As a marketer your job in ensuring product sales off the retail shelf is to make sure your product/s are SEEN. The way your products are represented on the retail shelf by way of the packaging they are enclosed in is a key determinant of how much value your target market places on them versus your competitors’ products.

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.
Read Part 3 of the series here.
Read Part 4 of the series here.
Read Part 5 of the series here.

You have 3 free articles.