Friday, Jan 28, 2022

An Behavioral Approach to Assessing Pack Effectiveness

Recent studies on consumer behavior have found that shoppers typically spend less than one minute making purchase decisions and that very few engage..

Image of grocery store shelf

Recent studies on consumer behavior have found that shoppers typically spend less than one minute making purchase decisions and that very few engage in any sort of comparison-shopping behavior. This alone highlights the importance of designing packaging such that it performs optimally at this ‘first moment of truth’ to promote in-market success. Shoppers are making decisions quickly, and in many cases, the shopper journey is on ‘auto-pilot’, and absent a rationalized decision-making process. This dynamic in shopper decision-making highlights two critical realities:

  1. Research methods for assessing packaging performance must reflect the dynamics of how shoppers actually engage with products or categories in-context (either in a brick-and-mortar shelf set or e-commerce results page).
  2. Assessments of packaging performance must prioritize “observed” shopper behavioral impact over claimed “rational” measures – as what shoppers “say” and what they “do” often does not align.

What then become the critical metrics by which we should measure the shelf agnostic performance of packaging? Those that assess behavioral impact, of course!   

We believe that there are simple yet powerful factors that are the greatest predictors of packaging design driving shopper choice to the advantage of your product:

  1. Visibility (Did the consumer see it?)
  2. Findability (Could they accurately locate it on the digital or physical shelf?)
  3. Communication (Did the consumer understand your product’s benefits at a visceral level?)
  4. Purchase (Did the consumer put it in their cart?

We apply our unique behavioral framework to dig into the degree to which the pack is conveying compelling benefits that make a purchase choice easy and eliminates barriers that would introduce friction and de-rail selection or your product.

Visibility comes first

Research has consistently shown that shelf visibility is perhaps the single most important foundational performance predictor of a package’s success in impacting sales. It simply goes without saying that if a brand or product does not break through on shelf or get noticed, it will have zero chance of making it into a shopper’s cart for purchase. In reality, a package may be highly compelling with the most motivating benefit claims, however, if shoppers never see it in on shelf, they will simply pass it by.   


Bhaven Sheth from Mondelez International Shares About Getting to Know the Changes in Snack Shopping Dynamics

Fundamentally, a product’s visibility (its ability to capture shopper attention) is not a function of a rationalized decision-based process, but rather physiological in nature. The process is driven by packaging colors, graphical features, structures, and so forth, that create disruption and contrast relative to competitive products on shelf.

This said, understanding the degree to which a new product (or a change to an existing one) impacts a brand’s ability to capture shopper attention is key. Using Behaviorally’s Eye-Tracking technology, we quantify the degree to which packaging is drawing consumer attention as a first hurdle in understanding potential changes in packaging performance. Those brands and products which successfully break through the clutter of the shelf help to draw consumers out of their “auto-pilot” shopping mode and thus inherently yield greater opportunity to gain entry into shopper consideration.

This leads us to…

Promoting line navigation and product findability

Confusion is the proverbial “kiss of death” in the packaging world and should be avoided at all costs. Let me state that again so we are all clear: Confusion stemming from the pack is the quickest way to stop the shopper path to purchase dead in its tracks!

As mentioned earlier, shoppers expend very limited time and effort engaging in the shopping process, and as such, any factors which add friction to the product navigation process present the undesirable outcome of potentially driving shoppers away. The reality is that, if my brand is not presented effectively on shelf and making it easy for shoppers to identify key details like variety or sub-line differences (promoting the product selection process), there is a strong potential that shoppers may simply defect to an alternate brand or product.

While a lack of consistency with current design conventions may present an opportunity to disrupt, it may also lead to confusion for those relying on specific visual signposts or cues for locating their desired brand. Thus, understanding and effectively leveraging visual brand equities can help ease the product location process.

Additionally, ensuring clarity of individual subline and variety differences also cannot be understated. Once shoppers have located a brand on shelf, the specific details which denote form, variety, flavor differences, and so on should be clear and easily comprehensible. Thus, in our experience, adopting a consistent communication hierarchy or method for conveying product differences across the wider product range can ease this burden.

Understanding packaging performance as it relates to introducing or potentially alleviating friction associated with the product navigation and selection process (via Behaviorally’s Findability exercise – accuracy and ease of locating) can help to identify and provide opportunities to address potential risks prior to market launch.

Now let’s get inspirational…

Communication – Drive consideration with features and benefits

The ultimate goal of packaging is to motive or inspire shoppers to behave in a desired way. The product graphics, usage visuals, benefit claims, stated product features, and other packaging elements play the role of conveying key product details to consumers, reinforcing product positioning, distinguishing from competitive offerings, and/or establishing consumer relevancy. This communication ultimately serves as the means to the end, creating the hook that draws shoppers to purchase our product over all others. This is equally important on the digital shelf where text on the product detail page might provide product features and claims, but the product image or visual depiction of the package is the visceral, recognizable vehicle to convey the instinctive elements that influence choice.

Understanding the degree to which our packaging is conveying intended communication points to shoppers ultimately dictates if (and the degree to which) we are having any noteworthy impact on shopper consideration. Again, knowing that shoppers are making their product selections at a very rapid pace, it is important that the exercises used to document the success of your packaging in conveying core messaging also reflect this short-term communication window. By using flash exposure and timed implicit association exercises in online testing, Behaviorally documents how well key product details are being quickly conveyed to shoppers (new/compelling or motivating messaging) as the basis of driving consumer purchase behavior.

While rational communication-based metrics are also gathered (including package appeal/aesthetics, core brand/product positioning, and value impressions), they are used more diagnostically, lending to a richer understanding of longer-term communicational impact rather than contributing to immediate purchase behavior.

And lastly, assess immediate consumer impact…

Document observed shopping behavior in-context

The only way to fully determine the degree to which a package impacts consumer purchase behavior is to observe and measure differences in shopping patterns at shelf or in e-commerce retail environments. Documenting purchase impact via an actual shopping exercise provides the most predictive link to anticipated in-market performance as it mirrors how consumers interact with product categories and how they actually make purchase selections. The great news is that dramatic advances in online testing technology enable us to mimic physical environments and simulate virtual shelves and determine what consumers “see” and “select” rapidly and cost-effectively, and in ways we once could only test via more costly in-person test settings.

Different from “claimed” consideration measures (which are more “rationally-based”), an actual shopping exercise is behaviorally-based, reflecting both the rational and irrational triggers which drive consumers to act the way they do. We know from experience that what shoppers “say” and what they “do” often differs significantly, and as such, adopting observational techniques for measuring at-shelf purchase impact better reflects true consumer behavior. For this reason, Behaviorally’s contextual-based shopping exercise is the most predictive metric for validating the actual in-market impact of packaging initiatives.

To summarize, those metrics which matter the most when assessing packaging performance are behaviorally-based, grounded in observed consumer behavior, as opposed to those which are limited to “claimed” or rational foundations.      

  • Visibility – Driving breakthrough and capturing notice at shelf
  • Findability/navigation – Minimizing friction associated with discerning product varieties and promoting easy and efficient product selection
  • Communication – Conveying a clear and compelling benefit that inspires shoppers to act, without barriers to choice
  • Purchase – Measuring behavioral impact in driving sales

Header Image: Mehrad Vosoughi, Unsplash

The post A Behavioral Approach to Measuring Pack Effectiveness first appeared on GreenBook.


By: Jason Bradbury
Title: A Behavioral Approach to Measuring Pack Effectiveness
Sourced From:
Published Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2021 12:00:22 +0000

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