Disruptive and Effective Packaging at Shelf

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email


As a professional in the insights industry, specifically testing designs that are effective at influencing consumer choice, I find myself regularly analysing products I come across on the shelf while shopping. On a recent trip to the Spanish Isles, this was no different. On one of the first days there, I was looking to pick up some bottled water via the local supermarket. I was greeted by an aisle with a diverse selection of brands, container sizes, and even flavours. Having this many options for something as simple as water made me reflect back on the fundamental principles of packaging of being seen, shoppable, seductive, and selected. Here are some guidelines on owning the most valuable moment in marketing: the sales transaction.

Be Disruptive and Distinctive

It truly was interesting to see the breadth of selection for bottled water, having so many choices between the brands, sizes, and flavours. How does a brand separate itself from the competition and get selected?

In order to be seen, the packaging needs to be disruptive and distinctive enough to contrast itself from the others within the shelf without being considered an “alien”. Consumers spend a short, finite amount of time looking at packs so if a brand is to be noticed, in needs to do so quickly. Regardless of whether a pack is being seen in-person or online, one way to “pop” on the shelf could be through colour as it is often the first element to be noticed. Especially in the case of water, most often bottles you find will be clear plastic with a branded label coloured blue, green, or white.

Take for example the images to the right. Which bottles do your eyes draw to first? More than likely, it’s the ones with a different coloured plastic or an uncommon colour for a label. It can be easy to get lost on the shelf and blend in with the rest so utilising colour can be a great way to create distinction for your brand.

Help Inquisitiveness and Choice

Another way to distinct your product on the shelf can be through familiar and easily recognizable assets. This not only helps shoppers in market, but also aids brands in becoming instantly noticeable especially in a case similar to mine where I was at a shelf in an unfamiliar market, but still looking for my brand of choice.

As seen in the example to the right, Coca-Cola utilises the alternative colour codes in its packaging for their several niche flavour variants, including the new limited edition Marshmello coke, but also maintaining that classic Coca-Cola look that it’s consumers easily recognise. They benefit from balancing difference that enables them to stand out and being quickly noticed on shelf as well as using visual assets that enable them to be recognised as part of brands consumers have come to know and love.

This is what makes a product easily shoppable. Reducing the barriers for consumers to allow for an easy and smooth shopping experience. That is why we here at Behaviorally developed a simple but not simplistic baseline for our behavioral research with our framework based around providing a compelling benefit with a low barrier to act.

Manifest and Leverage Visual Assets

For a brand to be effective at shelf, they need to identify their top visual assets. Prioritizing the elements that will work hardest to resonate with shoppers and showcase something unique are what create that attention or desire within a consumer.

Making use of these visual assets can really work well to help consumers quickly see and identify brand elements to recognize them especially when packs are not orientated how we typically expect, as seen in the image to the right. No matter which side of the pack the products are placed on, if the brand’s assets are working, you can identify which brand/product you are looking at in a glance. Every space of the pack should be utilised to make sure the product is easily identifiable.

In the end, the goal is to make the shopping experience easier for the consumer. Be disruptive and distinctive, leverage the visual assets that work for your brand, and make your pack easily identifiable.

If you want to learn more about how to succeed at the shelf, download our e-book, “The Power of Packaging” or contact us today!


Grant Montague is a Vice President, Client Development for Behaviorally in the UK. He likes nothing more than watching football and enjoying a decent British pint. Connect with him on LinkedIn!

Subscribe to Our Monthly Newsletter

Trending industry news, virtual events, podcast episodes and more

Digital Retail Can Be a Real Challenge

...But We Are Here to Help

To access the e-book, please fill out the fields below.