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What I Learned at CES about Packaging

Posted by Tom LarsenJan 18, 2014 Marketing, Product Development, Uncategorized 0 Comment

It shouldn’t surprise anyone reading this that most of the exhibitors in the Eureka Tech Zone (startup section) at CES earlier this month were inventors and designers with little to no marketing experience. They were there to show off their brilliant innovations meant to save consumers time, money and delight them at the same time. When asked if their product was ready for retail sale, they often held out the item and replied that sure, it works great. What a large majority of these entrepreneurs might have overlooked was to have packaging designed for their products so that they would be truly “Retail Ready”.

If you’re selling your products in bulk or through the internet only, your packaging doesn’t have to be fancy, just functional, providing necessary information. If it belongs on a store shelf, read on.

Although it seems like a small thing, dozens of decisions must be made when developing the package (and label) for a gizmo. How to begin? Visit stores where you want to get your product on the shelf. Look at your category and how similar products are packaged. Examine the materials used, their quality, thickness and finish. Then review the graphic design and copy. The consumer should quickly be able to “get” what’s in the package and why it could be of benefit to her. Note the packages that do this most effectively. Will your design stand out among the competition? Unlike a web page or brochure, your packaging has a very limited amount of space in which to “sell” your product. Effective packaging should:

  1. Protect the product
  2. Show and explain what the product is and what it does
  3. Establish your company’s or brand’s credibility (if you are not the cheapest on the shelf)
  4. Convince the shopper to purchase
  5. Make it easy for the store staff to restock in its proper place on the shelf
  6. Not take up unnecessarily large amounts of shelf space

Product design can do this in many different ways. Apple uses its packaging as a showcase for its beautifully designed gadgets, minimizing the use of copy. Conversely, Microsoft packages its products with as much information as possible. The following video link pokes fun of the difference in strategy between the two companies: http://vimeo.com/65449742.

Whatever your strategy, don’t skimp on your investment in design. A poorly executed package design can mean the difference between success and failure in a retail store environment. So what should you set aside for your packaging project? Expect to pay between $3,500-$5,000 for good design, not including the cost of the packaging production run inventory. Projects typically take 2-4 weeks to complete. For cost-effective, brilliant packaging design, we like two suppliers: Siliconstudio and Lucid.

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