Knowledge Bank Blog, Channel Execution

Winning Online : Designing for the Small Screen

Adapting to a world where your product is the size of a fingernail.

Traditionally, the first time a shopper sees your product is when they see a full size pack on shelf, that they can pick up and study.  They can visually and physically evaluate the product and do the same with the brand next to it on shelf, making a considered choice about which to buy.  However, as online shopping grows rapidly, this dynamic is changing rapidly.

Increasingly, the first time your new product will be seen is as a small image on a tablet or smartphone screen.  Indeed many of your existing products will be seen as a digital image not just as a product on shelf. Something that was 3D, 30cm x 15cm is now 2D, 1cm x 1cm, and probably a bit of a blur as someone swipes the tablet or smartphone screen.

So, what are the implications of this for brand design and communication, how do you adapt to this new world…?

Shoppers navigate screens in the same way as they shop in store.  They use very simple visual cues, based around colour and shape, to recognise brands.  Online you don’t have the benefit of a brand block, so individual packs have to work harder to stand out.  This means simplifying pack design with a real focus on the brand’s visual identity.  Can you get spotted in a split second?  Brands with weak visual identity will get lost in the online world.

The quality and clarity of the product image is key, particularly for products such as fresh, where visual appeal is so important.  If I want to buy clothes online, I see a crystal clear image, I can enlarge it, I can see the item from 5 different angles.  Why can’t I do that with an FMCG product?  Online grocery retailers are way behind other industries on this.

Pack size clarity is hugely important.  Unless different pack sizes have different structures or shapes, how do you know, visually, what size the pack is?  Yes, you have the pack size written alongside the product image.  But, how many of you know whether you buy the 150ml or 250ml deodorant?  You probably know whether you buy the bigger one or the smaller one.  On some grocery sites, fabric conditioners have added a big circle with number of washes next to the product image.  This makes it much easier for the shopper to judge value and make a choice.

Finally, one of the most obvious differences online is that it is actually harder to access product information.  Many brands are reliant on a shopper clicking through to the product page and then scrolling through reams of information, to find the relevant part.  However, most shoppers don’t have the time or inclination to do this.  Making the product description as short and simple as possible, highlighting the key benefit you want the shopper to see, will never be so important.

So, are you giving your brands the best possible chance of standing out, and cutting through, in the digital world?  It could be the difference between being seen or not, understood or not, and bought or not.

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.