While few would downplay the importance of a well-executed TV or digital ad, or the potential effects of a savvy endorser or peer recommendation, there’s another way to influence consumer perception of a brand, and it starts with the basics. It starts with the package design.
Affinnova, a marketing technology and analytics company, recently released Package Design Trend Watch: The Beverage Aisle, an extensive report on how package designs are shaping companies and affecting the beverage industry. The company’s belief in the power of package design, which can help emerging brands challenge category leaders, is affirmed by the following figures drawn from a 2013 packaging methods study conducted by MeadWestvaco.
Packaging drives 36 percent of purchase decisions, more than TV ads, digital ads and peer recommendations.
64 percent of consumers try a new product because the package catches their eye.
41 percent of consumers purchase a product again because of packaging.
The report advises emerging brands to establish a program that regularly evaluates package design and the evolving variables on the shelf.
“The store shelf landscape is constantly changing,” Affinnova writes. “Consumer perception of your package design will change relative to every change your competitors make to their package design. It’s critical to remain proactive about any threats or opportunities for your brand.”
Energy Drink Design
A central image on a package design can drive consumer appeal, the report notes. The energy drink category serves as a fine example of how a central image can draw attention to a brand. Monster Energy has the big, jagged “M.” Red Bull’s charging bull logo sits at the center, between the silver and blue colors of the can. Venom Energy, a Dr Pepper Snapple Group product, features a piercing red eye.
Meanwhile, the distribution and advertising muscle of parent companies Coca-Cola and PepsiCo haven’t been enough to boost AMP, a Pepsi product, or NOS and Full Throttle, both Coke products. Based on packaging alone, 22 percent of consumers would purchase Red Bull and 19 percent would purchase Monster. That number drops to 5 percent for AMP and 3 percent for NOS. From 2010 to 2012, Coke increased its advertising spend for NOS by 185 percent, outspending all other energy drink brands besides Red Bull. Yet, despite the spend, NOS’ market share decreased by 0.2 points. As seen in the diagram below, the packaging of AMP, NOS and Full Throttle seem to damage its consumer perception in a variety of factors.
“Inferior package designs by NOS and AMP are primarily to blame,” Affinnova writes. “They fail to attract consumers’ attention or drive purchase at shelf.”
Meanwhile, Starbucks “Double Shot” and Refreshers” brands have gained market share by appealing to a different demographic with a softer, less macho design. These products are perceived as the most “healthy,” “safe” and “down-to-earth” in the category, and are more appealing to women by a 2:1 ratio.
Flavored Sparkling Water Design
The flavored sparkling water category grew 6.3 percent in 2011, 34 percent in 2012 and will continue its growth through 2017, according to market research group Mintel.
“The segment offers a closer parity for consumers looking to trade away from carbonated soft drinks,” Mintel notes.
And no flavored sparkling water has captured the category in recent years like Sparkling ICE. Even with its artificial colors and additives and its growing but limited distribution footprint and advertising spend, Sparkling ICE compares favorably to category leader Perrier when it comes to consumer perception of package design, according to Affinnova.
Affinnova found that consumers seem to identify with Sparkling ICE’s claim of being enriched with vitamins and antioxidants, which sits on the front of the bottle beneath a bold strip that reads “zero calories.” Regardless of anti-artificial criticisms connected to the brand, what do consumers have to say about the product?
“I can drink it without worrying about it being bad for me,”
“I like that it tells me the benefits of this drink.”
“I am really into vitamins and antioxidants.”
Water Enhancer Design
Kraft Foods Group introduced MiO in 2011, unofficially starting the liquid water enhancer category. However, Affinnova’s report seems especially harsh on MiO’s package design. While MiO ranked first in the category under two of three success factors — “conversion” and “stand out” — its design had the most negative brand characteristics in the report.
The report notes that Kraft’s Kool-Aid water enhancers and Coke’s Minute Maid water enhancers, led by better package designs, may be able to seize significant market share from MiO, the clear category leader. Minute Maid Drops, launched in February, ranked first in five brand characteristics – “natural,” “wholesome,” “fresh,” “flavorful,” and “positive.”