Are your shoppers aware you've redesigned your packaging?

Lindsey Gladden

As many of our friends in the United States may know by now, there is currently a severe formula shortage due to a plant shutdown, among other things. 

This shortage led to me spending my weekend hunting down specialty formula for a baby whose parents are close friends of mine, in an attempt to relieve some of this added pressure. In the process, I found a very valuable lesson in branding updates.

Read on to hear about the learnings from my shopper experience, including three things brands should keep in mind when redesigning their packaging.

The experience

At one of my local grocery stores, formula has been completely removed from the shelves and put into a locked box at the front of the store. On the aisle where you would normally find formula, there are empty shelves with only small plastic boxes that hold cards with pictures of formula to take to the cashier. 

After spending far too long studying each card (my youngest is five, so it’s been a minute since I needed to buy formula), I determined that the variety I needed was available but the photo on the card showed the old version of the packaging, not what is currently on shelf. 

Filled with hope that I had located the impossible to find item, I quickly got in line and handed my card to the cashier.

She went to the locked box to hunt for my item, only to return and tell me that it wasn’t available.

Not giving up so quickly, I showed her a picture of the current packaging my friend had sent me. The cashier became excited and told me she did in fact have that one in stock and went to go bring back the three cans they had! 

The learnings

While I was obviously delighted to have procured the item I had spent my morning searching for, I spent several hours joking with my friend that the packaging redesign had led to our shared luck. 

Since my friend has redesigned packaging for many major brands in her career and I specialize in shopper insights, we both knew what happened. 

This particular brand had gone through a refresh, making the claims clearer, the colors more vibrant and the logo easier to distinguish. 

While they designed some beautiful packaging, somewhere along the line not all the assets had been changed. And since packaging is the face of the product, both the store employees and shoppers had skipped over it — not realizing the item they were looking for was right in front of their face. 

So what can brands do to avoid this fatal error?

1. Stay on top of your assets!

It’s always a good idea to keep track of everywhere your packaging assets are used. Many companies keep these documents in internal shared folders, but you should also follow up with relevant teams to make sure they’re aware of any assets that have changed and need to be updated (and sent to the retail partners as well, but we’ll get more into that later). 

In a world of ecommerce, this is especially important to make sure that all of the updates happen at the same time.

The last thing you want is a customer endlessly scrolling in search of the product that looks like the one sitting on their counter, to no avail. And if that’s something your team can’t take on, there are third parties who can work with manufacturers to make these updates with retailers in a timely manner.

2. Check in on your retail partners

It’s also worthwhile to check back frequently on your own to make sure your retailer partners are using the updated imaging.

This can be done through checking ecommerce websites, as well as asking your merchandisers, stockers, brokers and account representatives to keep an eye out in their stores for anywhere the old assets might be used. 

Sometimes the changes are slow to trickle out to the store level and those extra eyes can help catch situations that might be confusing for shoppers

3. Don’t shy away from shouting about it

You’ve created a beautiful new design for your product! So why not consider sharing some messaging around it? 

In store, this may take the form of a shelf talker or even a graphic on the floor in front of where your product is merchandised. Or in an ecommerce setting, this could involve updating your hero image to reflect both the new and old packaging so your shoppers can find it at a glance.

Final thoughts

There’s a lot to keep in mind when going through a packaging redesign — but don’t forget about what happens after the design is done. 

The shelf is not the only place your packaging matters. You’re likely using these assets in a variety of places, so keeping it updated and consistent is going to continue to drive brand (and variety) awareness and recognition at the shelf — helping you get your item into more carts, and in turn, to more users. 

Looking to make a greater impact with your packaging? Read our blog post on incorporating design thinking into your package design and explore our new packaging testing solutions from our innovation suite.