Beauty Packaging – Never Underestimate the Power of Packaging by TBC on April 27, 2016

When it comes to packaging, it’s easy to think that your concepts are going to win with consumers. But in today’s highly competitive beauty marketplace, it’s not enough to think you have a good packaging concept – you have to know.

Before one cap is bought, one unit carton printed or one teaspoon of bulk is filled – first you must have a packaging concept. And that concept has to not only appeal to your team, but to your targeted end user: the beauty consumer.

Notoriously fickle, today’s beauty consumer has before her a truly astonishing number of choices, and your packaging is likely her first introduction to your brand. Does it sing to her? Appeal to her? Make her believe your brand, above all others, is the best one for her?

Or does it miss the mark completely, and leave her disinterested or worse, oblivious to the great benefits your product offers? To truly be certain your packaging is speaking her language, and to help you avoid an expensive misfire, a consumer test of your packaging concepts must be a part of your overall brand development process.

Testing Your Ideas

A proven part of the successful launch of not just new products, but new brands as well, packaging concept tests are your chance to capture powerful consumer feedback before you’ve made final decisions (or spent any money) on questions like color of the box; font size; bottle/jar/tube shape; texture – even placement of text and copy. All of this information is up for conversation with your consumers and chances are she has a (fairly strong) opinion about these details, and more.

You need input on all of these packaging elements, and the data you garner from participants in a packaging concept test – whether qualitative or quantitative – will then allow the brand owner, the brand CEO, the brand manager and the brand creative team to bridge any gap between promised benefits and what your consumer expects.

In addition, this data will also expose any potential areas for optimization that you perhaps didn’t consider, such as size of your primary packaging: Is the bottle easy for a woman to hold and use, or is the size too big and cumbersome?

These nuances can be just the details you need to turn a good concept into an outstanding concept – and one that will get consumers to not just like your brand, but become an avowed brand advocate who purchase over and over again.   But before you get there, you need to decide which kind of concept test is best for you.

Planning the Test

To help you get the data you want—and need, to build a strong, fully optimized brand that is poised to stand out from the crowd—there are multiple packaging testing methods available. From focus groups to traditional online surveys, today’s testing apparatus are highly proficient and designed to help you cull every last bit of valuable data in new and engaging ways.

Focus groups tests, consisting of smaller groups consumers or users, allow participants to interact directly through feeling, touching, handling, opening/closing and physically manipulating as many of your packaging elements that you choose to test including unit cartons, bottles/tubes/jars, caps and pumps, as well as overall packaging concepts, including packaging renderings, colors and textures.

Participants are encouraged to offer feedback on each element, as well as compare/contrast different options in order to develop a comprehensive snapshot of everything they like about your concept(s)…as well as what isn’t as exciting.

Online quantitative surveys, although lacking the tactile element of a focus group, are an ideal option for brands who are still deciding on the core basics of their packaging, such as: shape, size, color, fonts, etc., and are seeking feedback from a large number of consumers – typically in the thousands.

And today, these kinds of surveys are quite robust. Recent innovations in testing technology mean you have other options to gather consumer feedback beyond static ‘yes/no’ questions.  For example, programs such as ‘text highlighting’ allow respondents to actually highlight areas of your packaging concepts they like (or don’t like) on their screens, naturally and without any filters, almost as if they were using a highlighter pen on a piece of paper, Similar programs also exist which allow users to rank images for appeal and interest, which can help your brand cull out packaging graphics or designs which aren’t resonating with your intended consumer base.

By allowing participants to control more elements of the test, such as through text highlighting, a brand manager is primed to gain an even deeper understanding of the concept’s strengths and weaknesses because the consumers are reacting organically – which will ultimately lead to an even stronger brand presence on the shelf.

Asking the Right Questions

Arguably, creating the right products for your brand is a critical part of your success – or failure – with consumers, which is why from the very outset; you need to include them in the conversation.

When considering what questions to ask in your packaging survey or to ask during a focus group, resist the temptation to avoid asking the difficult questions, or the questions you maybe don’t want the answer to. A concept test is your time to set aside any ego invested in packaging design to date, and just let consumers chime in – good, bad or indifferent.

Even if you are completely sold on a particular detail of your concept, such as the color of the box or shape of the bottle, if your consumer is not, then it’s time to kill your darlings, and let go because if consumers don’t love it during a concept test, they are likely not going to love it on the shelf—nd that is a long, hard, uphill battle to fight once your brand is fully actualized and for sale.

Done well, a detailed packaging concept test is potentially your one and only chance to ask questions about your packaging before you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on execution so, don’t be scattered or unfocused in your approach.

Include questions that touch on packaging aspects that are both broad (such as the shape of the unit carton) to detailed (is the font too small? Too large?) in order to end up with a richly detailed pool of data from which you can then use to tweak or change your concepts, as needed.

In addition, ask about the look of the font, the placement of text, the way the cap closes, how the pump dispenses…in short: ask about every single detail you can because the truth is, from a packaging standpoint, the most mundane details can be the ones that consumers gripe about the most if they aren’t optimized. When taken together, this kind of spherical data helps you and your team understand all the particulars about your brand’s packaging that are going to win with consumers, as well as those that aren’t.

Using the Answers

So what now? After investing the time, energy and money into testing your packaging concept, and then getting consumers to chime in with their opinions, you have to be ready to do something with the information gleaned aka: the fun part.

And even though it may not feel like fun, facing fundamental, or in some cases complete overhauls of your packaging ideas, to not heed the input of your consumers can be a dangerous choice.  Be ready to jettison concrete details and aspects of both primary and secondary packaging, as well as creative details (color, shape) and possibly even messaging. In short, be ready to part with (or change) any detail that your consumer isn’t absolutely in love with, and replace with one that she is.

The same applies to those aspects of your packaging that the data shows she did love – can you use her insights to make these winning aspects even better?

Did consumers offer a vital nugget of information or insight that you can apply to your packaging that will take it from great to outstanding? Or did they go ga-ga over a technology or ingredient that can now be highlighted, even if they were never meant to be lead benefits?

Before you test your packaging concepts – your ideas are just that: ideas. And great though they may be to your team, what matters more to your brand’s long-term success is that they are great to your consumer.

The feedback you capture from a packaging concept test is a gift from consumers to your brand. Use it!

Including her input and advice at the outset by conducting a consumer packaging concept test is a proven way to help you ensure your brand resonates with real consumers on every single level, and not just on paper. – See more at: http://www.beautypackaging.com/contents/view_experts-opinion/2016-03-21/never-underestimate-the-power-of-packaging/#sthash.oMcuEkC6.dpuf

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