Insights-driven Packaging Design

In today’s competitive and fast-moving marketplace, it is critical to know your audience. Market research techniques can help firms gain important consumer insights that are often the difference between success and failure in creating effective packaging design. Uncovering these valuable consumer insights can help address packaging design challenges, enhance functionality, and ultimately improve brand preference and increase sales. Additionally, meaningful consumer insights can help navigate innovations in graphic design as they pertain to product packaging, avoid common design pitfalls, and reveal deliverables required to bring a consumer-pleasing packaging design solution to market. 

Determine Your Package Design Objective

Packaging and label design must enhance the quality perception of your product and also deliver a communication experience that is eye-catching, inviting, and memorable for both consumers and retailers. The Dreaming Tree brand, a collaboration between Dreaming Tree Wines and the musician, Dave Mathews, is a great example of how consumer insights provided an additional understanding of the ideal consumer brand shopping experience. The use of well-planned market research ensured Affinity Creative Group adeptly communicated the brand’s unique association with Dave Matthews and his personality—creative, inspiring, and easy-going—right on the label, with a successful design refresh for this unique wine brand.

When Dreaming Tree Wines approached Affinity for help, the producer had two main objectives for their label design update:  1. Strengthen the brand’s relationship with core consumers and 2. Attract new customers to the brand to grow market share. With these goals in mind, we explored a range of design options for Dreaming Tree Wines that built off of the fundamental elements of their existing label with one eye on delivering an evolutionary design solution that retained key equities while positively influencing purchasing decisions.

Identify Your Target Market

In addition to establishing project objectives, a successful packaging design program requires a deep understanding of the behaviors of your core users and your competitive users—from their demographic and psychographics to the main influences of their purchase behavior. Familiarizing yourself with target audience attributes will help uncover essential learnings that provide insights into their relationship with your brand, the motivators and barriers to purchase, and the key brand equities that should be carefully considered prior to undertaking your packaging design or redesign program.

Understand Preference & Behavior With Qualitative Research

Consumer insights can be gleaned through carefully planned qualitative research activities. Qualitative research is typically conducted with the use of focus groups and in-depth interviews with a small number of individuals in a relevant audience segment. These tactics help brands understand the “why” of their consumers’ behavior, their competitive landscape, and identify the contours of various consumer segments.

When assembling a focus group, it’s important to begin with a strategic methodology. Starting with a clear objective for these groups allows you to efficiently gather information while also understanding its application to a particular packaging design assignment. Best practices require your focus group and interview efforts include appropriate gender segments for your brand, as well as other demographic factors (millennials or baby boomers?), plus socio-economic status, and behavioral attributes, such as use frequency,  brand substitution, and price sensitivity for your brand and the competition.

When it comes to honing in on design-specific topics in a focus group, make sure you inquire about aesthetic preferences, but do so in a way that does not ‘lead the witness.’ The moderator of the group must use a clever script that includes questions about your brand’s current packaging, competitive packaging, design preferences, perceptions, and associations, all asked in a way that does not force a pre-disposed outcome.  Although there is a degree of subjectivity present in Qualitative Research groups, an experienced moderator, using a carefully crafted Q & A technique will maximize the output of insight derived from the sessions.

Uncover What Matters Most to Consumers

Research findings will indicate which brand and design attributes core and competitive users find valuable or lacking about your current design and help assess alternative creative options. These findings will also demonstrate how your target consumer wants to engage with your brand, and how well the product fits into their lives both personally and socially. It’s often possible to hone in on important visual characteristics that drive trial, answering questions like, “Does a particular design’s perceived quality impression help make the product offering a viable contender against the competition?

When it came to Dreaming Tree Wines, research findings indicated that amplifying the existing graphic elements of the existing The Dreaming Tree label was the best design path to pursue. Since perceptions of The Dreaming Tree were more similar than not between core users and competitive users—with both segments viewing it as an easy-going, likable, genuine, down to earth brand with a touch of irreverence or “edge”—Affinity elected to build upon the existing foundation of established elements, yet leverage the brand equities in a new design that clearly magnified these existing visual devices. Ideally, the new label would also function as a conversation starter at any group gathering, indicating a premium quality level while outperforming the current label in terms of visibility and shelf impact to command more attention in the retail environment.

Translate Consumer Insights Into Compelling Packaging

Well developed consumer insights will help you determine a brand’s personality traits and associated visual characteristics that most resonate with your target audience.  For instance, whether selling at a premium price point or at a price-sensitive level, accompanying visual cues need to align appropriately.  Whatever you intend to communicate–be it a sense of fun, polished sophistication, rugged naturalness, or boldly spirited, the visual vocabulary needs to support the feelings, traits, and attributes of the brand.

After absorbing the consumer insights provided by Dreaming Tree Wines, Affinity created a sensitively updated design solution that included a unique die-cut label, an overall brighter background effect, and the addition of touches of gold foil in the leaves of the tree that catches the light and creates a sense of energy and movement. For Dreaming Tree Wines’ core audience, the new label felt enhanced and more premium, yet remained familiar. For users of competing brands, it was successful in standing out on the shelf while communicating a premium quality without alienating the more price-conscious among the

Packaging Design That Delivers ROI

Market research is a crucial marketing tool that provides value at multiple stages of the design process, from new product development to assessing the likelihood of success of your new label redesign prior to rollout. Whether you are developing packaging for a new product or revitalizing a tired or dated look, brand design informed by consumer insights will not only increase shelf visibility, it will help differentiate your brand from the competition, amplify key messaging, and ensure your success in the marketplace.

Need Help With Insight-driven Packaging Design? 

Affinity Creative Group offers a vibrant group of branding and packaging experts that create singular brand experiences for our clients, seamlessly integrating brand identity and design architecture into a compelling proposition. From new product development to brand tiering systems, to brand revitalization.  If you need a packaging design solution, we can help.

About The Author: Heather Cappola is the director of client services at Affinity Creative, with nearly 30 years in brand design marketing leadership and over 13 years of experience in managing and implementing high-image brand and package development in the wine, spirits, and luxury/lifestyle categories.

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