Packaging Design and Shelf Impact: Standing Out in Crowded Retail Environments

Anyone standing in a grocery store’s cereal aisle knows that the number of choices can be overwhelming. If you’re there to buy a box of Cap’n Crunch, you probably scan the shelves until you find your brand, you grab it, and move on.

If you have a company that’s bringing a new breakfast cereal to market, or maybe you have a pre-existing product and want to rebrand with a new look, how do you get to the consumer who’s been buying Cap’n Crunch for twenty years?

Consumers can be creatures of habit, and getting their attention is challenging, especially when your brand is one of a large number of competitors on a store shelf. Yet, despite a consumer’s brand loyalty, getting their attention is not impossible and most consumers are not averse to looking at alternate brands. According to DesignBro, “While 60 percent of product decisions are made by the customers at the point of sale, a large number of companies still remain oblivious to the importance of packaging design.” 

Creating effective, eye-catching packaging with strong shelf impact involves a blend of creativity and strategy.

While every marketing firm has its own list of tactics for grabbing a customer’s attention on store shelves, at McFadden-Gavender, we have created a proven list that has effectively worked for us for decades. Here’s our taxonomy of tips for creating packaging that works:

  • Visual Appeal: The packaging design should be visually appealing, utilizing colors, fonts, imagery, and overall aesthetics that resonate with the target audience. Eye-catching design elements can help draw attention to the product on crowded store shelves. Strive for a balance between being distinct and maintaining coherence with your brand.
  • Branding and Messaging: The packaging should effectively communicate the brand identity and convey the product’s key messaging. Clear branding elements such as logos, taglines, and product names help consumers recognize the brand and understand the product quickly. Keep the design clutter-free. Too much information can overwhelm consumers. Use clear, concise messaging and visuals that convey the product’s essence quickly.
  • Visual Hierarchy: Guide the viewer’s eye with a clear hierarchy of information. Highlight essential details such as product name, key features, and benefits. According to LinkedIn, a list of necessary elements which should be on the customer-facing side of packaging are:

    1. Brand name/logo
    2. What the product is
    3. Key benefit
    4. Additional benefit
    5. Taste proposition
  • Typography: It may seem obvious but choose legible fonts that match your brand’s tone. Typography should enhance readability and contribute to the overall visual appeal.
  • Color Palette: Select colors that resonate with your target audience and evoke desired emotions. Consider color psychology and cultural associations.
  • Imagery: Use high-quality images that showcase the product’s attributes. Photos or illustrations should accurately represent the product and its benefits.
  • Retail Environment: Package design should consider shelf placement and overall store environment. Understanding where the product will be displayed and how it will be positioned can influence the packaging design choices. The package design should catch the eye from a distance and maintain its appeal up close.
  • Consistency Across Variants: If you have multiple product variants, maintain a consistent design language that ties them together while highlighting their differences.
  • Sustainability: In recent years, consumers have become more conscious of sustainability. Incorporating eco-friendly materials and designing packaging that is recyclable or reusable can have a positive impact on brand perception and consumer choices.
  • Testing: Don’t plan on your design choices being final. Conduct market research and consumer testing to gather feedback on your packaging design. Periodic improvements based on real-world feedback can be invaluable.

McFadden-Gavender has created package designs for major companies for over twenty years. Here are two recent examples of products where we employed the above tactics and strategies:

While very different, each package reflects the brand’s personality and values, and appeals to the target audience. Plus, we’ve followed the visual hierarchy which guides the consumer’s attention from the product name to key features and benefits.  

Ultimately, an effective packaging design with strong shelf impact can attract attention, communicate the brand’s message, differentiate the product from competitors, and influence consumer purchasing decisions. To achieve those goals, it’s important to consider the target audience, brand image, and market trends when creating packaging designs.

Producing eye-catching packaging requires experience and a creative team that will make your brand stand out amongst all the others. With a decades-long history of creating successful consumer packaged goods, McFadden-Gavender has the expertise in both domestic and international packaging that will get your brand noticed. Contact us and let’s talk. We’re ready to take your brand further.