In the act of shopping for technology products, consumer behavior is most often driven by either “good enough” or more emotional needs such as membership, status, and pleasure; instinctive, System 1 decision-making. Most consumers have relatively little understanding of what goes on ‘under the hood’ so they rely on mental shortcuts such as brand recognition and positive emotional connections (e.g. trust) in order to-additional claims and features, “violators” that signal something new, explanations of an innovation in functions, a clarification of a change that doesn’t mean anything to most consumers, or sustainability messages.
Much of this information is conveyed cognitively in text, requiring the shopper to stop and deliberate, defaulting to System 2 selection rather than making a gut, intuitive decision.
Although all this information may be important, our data also proves that around 50% of shoppers make their decision ‘in the moment’ and are only processing a maximum of 3-4 elements on a pack, often even those at an unconscious level! So, you want to make sure you emphasize the Benefits that count for influencing shopper behavior. In our decades of packaging research, we have found that what consumers “see” tends to be the brand mark, product name, a main visual, and one additional message! With limited real estate, you have to be disciplined with what to include to make a pack successful at driving shopper choice.
In our 4S criteria for effective packaging (Be Seen, Shoppable, Seductive, and Selected), here are the best practices you need to follow when prioritizing the hierarchy of elements:
- Position the elements where they deliver the greatest impact. Humans don’t process images and text on packs reading left to right like a book. While there are no typical routes for how and where elements are viewed hierarchically on a pack, when we track where consumers’ eyes land evaluating a pack visually, we find that they often “see” an impactful visual first, and then, with deteriorating cognitive recognition, process the rest of the messages conveyed there.
- Prioritize a lead claim. Your most compelling claim might differ for every product, occasion, and consumer segment. Knowing what matters to your target consumer will be the key to unlocking how best to communicate Benefits on the pack, enabling the path to an easy purchase. With multiple claims, keep messages together to form an “information destination,” which can aid shoppers taking away your key Benefits and ultimately your product.
- Say it in two languages. For those facing requirements for dual language on pack, this is not an insurmountable challenge. One tip we can share — consumers find it easier to digest if the languages are grouped together versus interspersed across the pack.
- Take care with violators. Where you position “violators” will mean the difference between being seen or ignored. Violators on the top left or top right of the pack (away from other elements) may be outside the area of primary viewing, and according to our database, can be missed by as many as two-thirds of shoppers! A contrasting color can be used to call out the “violator”, but care needs to be taken that the color doesn’t create a Barrier (i.e., cheapness, noncomplementary combination with your primary brand color palette) within your category.
- Communicate visually. Who said a picture is worth a thousand words? Don’t say you “faster”, “slimmer” or “lighter” with numbers or text when you can communicate that Benefit more effectively in an image. But don’t discount the phenomena of consumers translating even the way you aggregate text, (in typographic font style, shape, and color), as a kind of shorthand “image” for easily recognizing a brand they love.
There is such a thing as oversimplifying in the desire to make a pack look premium or luxurious by eliminating too many words and visual elements. This can present a Barrier in tech products where a sales assistant isn’t there to explain what the product does. The key is prioritizing the most critical elements that will communicate Benefits and influence shopper choice. Strike the balance in a simple pack design with compelling images that communicate Benefits effectively and you can win at the shelf!
Simplicity may be hard to achieve in pack design, but with a behavioral framework we can measure if you are getting it right for effectiveness, conversion, and the potential to drive sales. Contact us today to find out how we can help!
Simon Wyld is the Senior Vice President out of Behaviorally’s Los Angeles hub working with the Customer Success team. Simon has a strong passion for designing and implementing behavioral science-based market research solutions with a strong focus on the tech sector. Originally from England, he now lives in LA with his wife, twin kids, and pup. On weekends, you can catch Simon golfing!