This is an interesting article from the Australian branding agency, Jam & Co. in which the author discusses five conditions where companies feel that they have “no option” but to change their packaging. The author puts each of these conditions “under a microscope” and examines whether these 5 conditions are really a good reason to change the packaging. The author’s experience of working on many packaging re-branding projects shines through in this article.
Most people would agree that no packaging design can last forever. At some point over the life of the product, it is likely that the package design will need to be changed. The key question, of course, is when should it be changed?
The author begins by stating that most businesses will, of course, measure important metrics (such product sales, website views of that product etc) and monitor the competition and general market forces before commencing a packaging redesign project. they will most likely also cancelled research about the effect of changing a package’s design on consumer attention
He points out that nearly all research will indicate that a change in the products package design will create a short term increase in consumer attention to that product. Therefore he recommends that businesses/brands should guard against reactive decisions to change their packaging design. There will be a short-term increase in consumer attention to the product but this may not be sustainable and could be damaging to the product/brand in the long run.
As a packaging designer, the author sees that one of the most common reasons for brands changing their packaging design is that they want to stay abreast of current trends.
Here again, he urges caution by warning that all trends follow a bell curve and if you decide to change your packaging to follow a trend that is on the downward part of the curve, it will be a costly and regrettable decision. So how can you decide whether to follow a trend or not?
He dishes out good design and marketing advice to answer this question: Look at your ideal consumers/customers and ask yourself- is this trend relevant to them in any way? If the definition of your ideal customer has changed over the years, then you need to look at the trends in light of these new ideal customers.
If your ideal customers include millennials but you have not changed your products’ packaging in the past 5 years and your packaging contains considerable amounts of plastic, then you may be alienating millennia as the trend towards less plastic and more sustainable packaging gains momentum.
The author states: “plan for the inevitable changes to come and have some key data indicators in place to inform (your) decisions when the time comes to evolve to the next step of the brand journey.” he advises businesses to have a “clear strategic brand journey to follow” at all times.
These are occasions when brands are forced to comply with new industry standards or display new production or packaging form changes. In the case of regulatory changes that affect packaging. There is obviously no option to decide not to change the packaging in these situations.
He gives the example of the 2025 sustainability goals announced by Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg in April 2018: “ALL Australian packaging will be reusable or recyclable into other purposes.”
He suggests using this forced packaging redesign as an opportunity to include other strategic packaging design changes.
If your business has entered into the world of e-commerce and you will need to have images of your products on your e-commerce website, you may need to re-design your packaging so that it looks good online as well as in retail stores.
Naturally, this is an opportunity to incorporate other strategic design changes to your packaging. Therefore businesses should stand back and look at all the factors affecting the sales of their products at this time and not focus solely on redesigning the packaging for e-commerce sales.
The author has witnessed many situations where a new head of the marketing department will insist on changes to the packaging design. He cautions that these changes are often done so that the new head can be seen to be making changes and are not necessarily the best thing for the product.
He says “These marketing executives will tend to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. They’ll opt for revolution as a strategy” and that this change can often lead to existing customers leaving.
His advice is to stick to an already predetermined evolutionary plan because it has been planned out as part of a properly planned strategic plan for the brand.