Knowledge Bank Blog, Shopper Communication

Winning at Shelf : Designing Eagles

Are you designing from the shelf back…?

Every time a shopper walks down an aisle they are bombarded with choice.  In most categories there is a wall of product – lots of similar looking packs, most with too much visual information and too many messages on them.  Most shoppers are left with range and message blindness.  This means they typically default to the brand they are most familiar with, or that is easiest to find.

One of the reasons for this is that we rarely design packs for true simplicity and clarity.   We want to tell the shopper how good our product is, so we often tell them in 3 or 4 different ways.  We want to make sure that everything is visible, so we overload the front of pack with visual information.  Ironically, the more we try to make things visible, the less visible they become.

All this results in a brand looking like everything else on shelf.   And if you look like everything else on shelf, you significantly reduce your chances of being seen and engaged with.  You are just a bird that looks like any other bird, you are not an Eagle.

When you think about packaging from this perspective (we call it “shelf back”), you significantly increase your ability to stand out and cut through.  We find that some of the best companies at this are the ones with fewer resources.  The ones who don’t have £m’s to spend on TV advertising.  Who know the shelf is their battleground and survival depends on being seen in store.

Let’s take Bighams, which is a great example of Designing Eagles (visuals at the top of the blog)…

Step 1.  They have prioritised shelf stand out.  Each pack helps build the overall brand block, but also clearly identifies individual variant.  Whilst they, importantly, look like a ready meal, they look very different to everyone else around them.  Maximising their chances of being seen is their first objective.  Without this, everything else is irrelevant.

Step 2.  As soon as the shopper picks up the product, they have a simple and engaging reinforcement of the core brand proposition – ‘Perfect for Two’.  They don’t fall into the trap of over communicating.  Keep it simple, keep it clear.

Step 3.  They have a flap on the top of the packaging that allows the shopper to see a product visual, supporting information and the Bighams story – reassuring shoppers that this is a good choice and worth paying a bit more for.  Crucially, this information is only visible once the shopper is engaging with the product, it is not getting in the way of Steps 1 & 2.

In our years in the industry, we have been involved in many debates about whether you should prioritise the shopper perspective or the consumer perspective when you design packs.  As if it is an either / or choice.   Bighams (and other brands like Innocent, Ella’s Kitchen) show that you can deliver both.

They also show is that if you have a simple, structured way of understanding what you want the shopper to see, and in what order you want them to see it, you can significantly increase your pack stand out and clarity of proposition at shelf.

So, next time you are in store or thinking about pack design, ask yourself ‘are you designing from the shelf back’  And if not, perhaps you should be…?

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.