noun 1203983 324d92

Packaging testing

What's in the box?

Back in 2001 Nestlé spent £3 million in marketing to ease the transition from KitKat’s foil and paper wrapper to flow-wrap because they knew the packaging was a key part of having a KitKat. It’s been nearly two decades, but I can still remember sliding my thumb across the top until the logo pressed through, then the delight of scoring lines in the foil, and snapping each finger off in turn.

More recently, M&S was criticised for packaging apples in plastic tubes. Likewise, the environmental impact of unrecyclable plastic-lined coffee cups has led MPs to call for a 25p levy on them and chains such as Costa and Starbucks are already offering discounts for those who use a reusable cup. Packaging is personal and political, and a whole host of factors and interactions contribute to our opinions of packaging and the products inside, but equally, day-to-day, we may hardly – consciously - think about it all.

When it comes to researching packaging, appreciating this breadth of opinion is essential. There are all sorts of interesting questions to ask about a piece of packaging:

  • Is the logo eye-catching?
  • What about the use of colour?
  • What kind of associations and connotations does it have?
  • Does it align with the brand?

All well and good, the answers to those questions may be important and impact business decisions, but they’re moot if people don’t know what’s in the box in the first place.

Seemingly simple questions can be just as vital.

  • Is it immediately clear what’s inside?
  • Does it stand out on the shelf?
  • Does it communicate everything it needs to?
  • Does it work?

Packaging testing is a great way to bring a market researcher down to earth. Packaging is simultaneously simple and complex, and our approach as market researchers should reflect this.

We recently opted for a mixed methodological approach to help one of our clients evaluate packaging for an FMCG item. We observed buyer and browser reactions at the shelf before following up with a qualitative interview. This allowed us to capture reactions to the packaging in a real-world context and understand the reasoning behind the response. Feedback from some shoppers was filmed to bring the content to life for the client.

There are lessons to be learned outside of packaging research as well. As brilliant and satisfying as complex findings can be, some of the most powerful insights gleaned from market research are the simplest. Sometimes it’s worth asking the basic questions first and going from there.

By Dave Merrett

This entry was posted in Market research, tagged Shopping, Consumer Behaviour and posted on March 8, 2018

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