Package Design for Brand Success Series – Part 4

So far in the Package Design for Brand Success series, you’ve learned what package design is, why it matters to your product and brand, the types of package designs, and the physical, legal, and other limitations and considerations you need to address in your package design. Now, it’s time to learn how to ensure the package design decisions you’re making are the right ones. That’s where research and testing come into the process.

package designGreat package design that helps boost sales depends on more than just pretty wrapping. The goal for any brand and product is to create wrapping that makes people see, feel, and understand the product inside. Only your target audience can tell you if your package design will motivate them to pick up your product from the store shelf and purchase it.

Therefore, you can’t rely on your own preferences to guide your package design. Your target customer audience should always be the driver of package design. As you learned in Part 1 of the Package Design for Brand Success series, people respond to colors in packaging first followed by shapes, symbols and words (in that order). You might think your quality message is the most important element in your package design, but according to the hierarchy in which the mind processes packaging stimuli at the shelf-level, that message is far less important to consumers.

Market Research and Package Design Testing

Market research is the most affordable way to see how consumers will respond to your package design. Create a prototype of your package design that you can show to consumers in order to get their feedback. You can use consumer panel surveys to find your target audience and gather their opinions about your packaging concept.

supermarket shelvesImages and videos are important in package design research. For example, you should show survey respondents a picture of your package design as well as a planogram image that includes your product in the spot where it would be placed when it’s rolled out to retail stores. A/B split tests are also very effective in package design research.

In other words, consumers need to see how that package will look on their store shelves in order to get responses from them that are closer to how they’ll react in the real world. You could even record a video of your package design on a shelf in a mock-store. Pan over the packages on the store shelf from 3′-6′ away to mimic a real shopping experience. Follow up with a series of questions to test awareness, recall, and recognition. If your package design doesn’t rise to the top, then you need to start tweaking.

If you have more than one package design prototype, include ranking questions in your research survey to learn more about consumer preferences. Be sure to ask how people feel about your package design in comparison to your competitors’ package designs, and don’t forget to include questions that will help you understand which elements of your package design are most important to consumers and which elements are missing.

You should also spend some time testing your package design to collect qualitative data. If your budget allows for it, test your package design in a test environment and in real world situations. The former is far less expensive. For example, create a mock-up of a store shelf or display where your package design will be placed. Analyze how it looks in relation to all the other packages on the shelf. Do the colors, shapes, symbols, and words effectively capture a busy shopper’s attention and accurately reflect the brand promise as well as the added value the product delivers? If not, go back to the drawing board.

Bottom-line, you should never launch a package design until you’ve gotten positive feedback through consumer market research. They’re the people who need to see, pick up, and buy your product, and they’re the ones who need to be effectively influenced by the package design. It doesn’t matter what you like. What matters is what will motivate consumers to buy.

If you missed previous parts of the Package Design for Brand Success series, you can follow the links below to read them now:

Image: Gabriela González, Rowan Peter

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as and She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of, an award-winning blog for business women.