Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Packaging Design for Overworked, Time-Crunched and Over-The-Edge Consumers

When was the last time a product's packaging called to you from the shelf, “Buy me, buy me”? Or are you like most that get the same standbys on every trip to the store?

With the proliferation of products many times we are simply too overwhelmed with the number of product offerings to make a change. The decision making process is simply too complex to assess new products on the shelf or to determine if the new product can replace what we currently use. Our rut is so deep that I have to keep the old packaging for my husband when he goes to the store or invariably he comes back with a different, new, or improved version of what he was sent to get. Who can get mad when he's helping out?

As a seasoned veteran that speaks and writes about packaging on a daily basis, I sometimes get snookered by the latest product on they shelf. Don't you just love it when the brand you have been buying for years suddenly no only looks different but has a complete new color scheme along with a confusing array of new and improved versions? Don't they know I'm overworked, time-crunched and over the edge about making an informed shopping decision?

Add to this the fact that various practitioners are telling me how to eat healthy, look younger, consume smaller potions with less fat and less carbs plus have all the essential vitamin and minerals. They implore me to try the new and improved version while supporting my favorite charity and saving the planet too. So what am I to do when poised to make that purchasing decision to ensure I'm getting the product I am looking for?

Simplify the information. Remember the customer? Make it easy to find out all the features and benefits the product. Don't confuse me with superfluous information. Yes, it’s used by such and such, but who cares? I don't. Use the personal mantra WIIFM (what's in it for me) when creating ad copy. If a consumer buys your product what will they get in return? Forget the hype and the over the top, trite marketing gimmicks. Plain and simple -- will it make my life better?

Give me good value at a fair price, even a premium price; it’s worth it to make it simple for me to reach a decision instead of me staring at the label trying to decide the best value. Tell me all the important information too. Is it ready to go or do I need to read a set of complex instruction before using the product? Is it enough to feed an army (to use my mother’s expression) or enough for the two of us without leftovers? After it is open, what can I do with it besides give it to the cat?

I've seen wonderful new product introductions fail simply because the packaging doesn't get the job done. This is the problem of overreaching designers trying to solve too many problems with one product. Yes, I'm a packaging expert but I don't want to engage my brain in complex decision making when shopping for necessities. Just get me in and out the door with a minimum of stress and satisfy my needs with the products purchased. We aren't all "experts" when it comes to packaging so think about that the next time you develop your packaging concept. Make it work from the customer's perspective not the designers.


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