Archive for April, 2013

Does retro packaging always work?

April 24, 2013 Leave a comment


I came across this recent article in the BBC about retro packaging stating the following:

“A new trend in Portugal is seeing shopkeepers stock their shelves with products and packaging which deliberately hark back to the designs of previous decades. Toys, perfumes and foods with a vintage look are proving particularly popular with tourists and are helping revive the country’s flagging economy.”

I’ve seen quite a bit of retro packaging here in the U.S. and after reading this brief article I began to wonder if the retro look really helps in sales or if it just briefly disrupts the consumer into purchasing products. I think the bigger question is wondering if this pulls in long-term consumer loyalty.

As memories can be triggered back to more pleasant times, does this effort really raise sales? Today, as I see more and more of the retro look, I notice that it is being used with new companies and their product offerings. With that said, what will be their look when they revert in the future to their retro look? Is a retro look just a style fad or a bona fide and viable tool?

Chuck Miller

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What do you tell the consumer about your packaging?

April 10, 2013 Leave a comment


A recurring question I discuss with clients now is about what they should tell their consumers when it comes to their packaging. Do they claim that their package is now recyclable and environment friendly? Is the sustainability factor something they want to plaster on their package to brag about? If the package is compostable should they state it?

Sometimes confusion sets in as the brief states that the issue of sustainability needs to be addressed but do we tell the consumer it is happening and results in a package that is better for the environment? Will the consumer find the product and manufacturer more favorable? Does brand loyalty rise when this happens? What if the consumers don’t get told of the efforts made to create such a package?

Every brand is different as is every package. We address the goals and concerns with our clients as the degree of communication this information varies. Some express the issue in a more outwardly manner than others and our job as package designers is to assist our clients in expressing their message the best way possible.

So look closely at the package and see just how much information about the package is being expressed next time you’re in the store.

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When the package gets undersold by the clerk.

April 1, 2013 Leave a comment


The other day I was with my wife as she was out shopping for a new cell phone. After she made her choice, two things caught my attention. The first was when the clerk assisting her was setting up the phone. My wife¬† opened the package to look for instructions and while doing so, she commented on the design. She exclaimed, “This is quite a nice package for a phone.” I just smiled and observed as she proceeded. The second point of interest was when she told the clerk that she would also need a Bluetooth headset. We followed the clerk to the aisle containing accessories and looked for the proper headset. I looked at all the packaging and then the brands and finally the prices. The clerk looked for the brand that carried his preferences and pointed to the corresponding package. My wife expressed her preferences, looked at his recommendations and then the price.

The product, package and price all worked together and the sale was made. I wondered though how much the package comes into play when a clerk gets involved. As a designer, I spend a large amount of time creating a package that reflects a brand in order to help sell products yet can be undermined at any time by a clerk and his or her preferences. We hope that the brand we work for has built quality and a positive reputation that rings true with clerks all over but I’m not sure if there is a way to measure this activity or to prepare for it accordingly.

I have my doubts with using focus groups on this situation and feel that some detective work or ethnographic research needs to come into play here. I guess I’ll just have to get out to the retail environment and do some digging.

– Chuck Miller,

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