7 steps for Getting a Small Brand Product onto Retail Shelves

Getting onto Retail Shelves – 7 steps for Start-ups and Small brands

7 steps graphic


95% of new products never make it to the retail shelves. While there are many reasons for this, packaging designer Chad Birenbaum of Duckpin Design, suggests that packaging is often one of the reasons for their failure. In this excellent and practical article on www.thedieline.com he outlines 7 steps for small brands and startups to help them compete with their larger, well-financed competitors.

It is probably well-known at this stage that when it comes to customer retail purchase decisions that “the book is definitely judged by its cover”, i.e. the quality and design of the packaging will be used by the consumer to judge the product inside.

Consumers read 7 words only

Mr Birenbaum reveals an interesting statistic – on average, a consumer only read 7 words on a product’s packaging. When making a buying decision in a few seconds, the brain relies on instinct rather than logic. Therefore the shape, size, colour and brand recognition of the product and it’s packaging will have a major impact on the consumer’s buying decision process.

Packaging to Compete with Big Brands

Many big brands can spend millions on researching buyer behaviour, using advanced technology, such as retinal scanning to track eye movements in store tests and MRI. What can smaller brands and start-ups do to make their packaging compete against these large competitors?

The author advises that while many products can survive the early stage of development, it is making the leap to larger retail outlets and supermarkets that causes many new products to fail.

He suggest that planning, researching and strategising are extremely important at this stage in order to stand out on the shelves. Below is a summary of his seven steps and there is a link to the full article at the foot of this page.

Know the demographic (of your ideal customers) and where they shop.

This first step is essential, says Mr Birkenbaum,. even if you sell a product that everyone can buy. “Everybody” is not the correct answer to the question of “who is your demographic?” If your packaging designer knows the full demographic of your ideal customers and where they shop, this means your packaging designer can research their buying habits, what other brands they buy and who your competitors will be for this product.

Establish your price point.

On this point, the author gives practical advice – figure out your production costs, including ingredients, materials, manufacturing and packaging costs, distribution, freight fees, engineering and overhead costs. This will determine the wholesale and retail price of your product. Let your packaging designer know what your intended retail price is as it will help him or her to determine the overall look of the packaging design. Also they will know whether this is a luxury, niche or lower priced product.

Learn from your competitors.

The author recommends finding the answers to the following questions. Where do you competitors sell their products? What is their product position – high quality, premium products, niche or lower price, lower range quality products? In what marketing activities do your competitors engage? If they have large scale advertising and lots of point of sale and in-store displays, you may not be able to out-market them if you try to compete head-to-head with exactly the same type of product. However, if your product has an extra, different or innovative features or appeal to a niche audience, you may be able to compete very well. In his article, he gives a good example of how this worked for a company, Naked Juice, who compete in the protein beverages market.

Find a packaging designer and get a proposal.

He recommend selecting a designer who has experience in packaging as packaging design requires technical knowledge that other types of graphic design does not. At Dollard Packaging, we would definitely second his opinion on this. Incorrectly formatted packaging artwork can cause a lot of unnecessary delays and costs. You can find a useful blog on the topic of formatting artwork for Packaging Design here LINK He advises getting a comprehensive proposal from your packing designer covering such topics as how many design concepts you will get, will you or your printer received production artwork, what are the payment terms and conditions etc.

Have a creative kick-off meeting.

In this first meeting, he advises that you give your packaging designer as much information as you possibly can including samples of packaging design that you like, any research or competitive information that you have, any specific design elements that you want included, your production schedule, any product release dates or trade shows for which you will need your packaging.

Review concepts.

From his experience, the author recommends taking at least a week to review the concepts presented by the packaging designer. He also suggests that it is extremely beneficial to get feedback from somebody in your ideal customer demographic or to conduct a survey in person or online. After this, select one concept to use as the template. Keep the lines of communication open at all times and always give your packaging designer in your honest opinion, even if it is negative.

Approve your design for print and production.

The author recommends getting “hard proofs” (on paper) from your printer as ”soft proofs “ (on a computer screen) can look different on different screens. He cautions that hard proofs will not necessarily be printed out on the same paper or board that your final carton or sleeve will be printed on. Therefore he also recommends that you do a “press pass” for the first run of your carton’s printing – during the print run, the colour can be adjusted to some degree.

You can read the full article here.

Please contact Dollard Packaging if you need assistance with your packaging 01847 0044