With the increased importance placed on self-service marketing, the role of packaging is becoming quite significant. For example, in a typical supermarket a shopper passes about 600 items per minute, or one item every tenth of a second. Thus, the only way to get some consumers to notice the product is through displays, shelf-hangers, tear-off coupon blocks, other point-of-purchase devices, and, last but not least, effective packages. Common uses of packaging include protection, communication, and utility/ease of use.6
Considering the importance placed on the package, it is not surprising that a great deal of research is spent on motivational research, color testing, psychological manipulation, and so forth, in order to ascertain how the majority of consumers will react to a new package. Based on the results of this research, past experience, and the current and anticipated decisions of competitors, the marketer will initially determine the primary role of the package relative to the product. Should it include quality, safety, distinction, affordability, convenience, or aesthetic beauty? For the automobile oil industry, the package has become more important to promote than product performance. To a lesser extent, this is also true for products such as powdered drinks, margarine, soft drinks, perfumes, and pet foods. In the case of Pringles, made by Procter & Gamble, a package had to be designed that would protect a very delicate product. It also faced the uncertain response of retailers which have never stocked stacked potato chips before. Recall the many shapes and sizes ketchup containers have taken during the last twenty years.
Clearly delineating the role of the product should lead to the actual design of the package: its color, size, texture, location of trademark, name, product information, and promotional materials. Market leaders in the dry food area, such as cake mixes, have established a tradition of recipes on the package. However, there are other package-related questions. Do the colors complement one another? Are you taking advantage of consumer confusion by using a package design similar to that of the market leader? Can the product be made for an acceptable cost? Can it be transported, stored, and shelved properly? Is there space for special promotional deals? Finally, various versions of the product will be tested in the market. How recognizable is the package? Is it distinctive? Aesthetically pleasing? Acceptable by dealers?