Consumer buying behavior and purchase decision making is kind of a black box—always changing (if you believe the trade press), and somewhat mysterious (that’s the black box part). With all the social media buzz, customer reviews and rants, interruptive ads (as soon as you have done a search for a product)—it’s kind of a jungle out there! And, then comes the question of how consumers view your packaging.
Let’s step back for a moment and consider the consumer purchase decision process from start to finish.
First, the consumer recognizes that they have a need or a problem that needs to be solved. Most often, the consumer has a want. “I ran out of product X, I need to get more.” Sometimes, especially if they had a mediocre experience with the Brand, they may think about trying a competitive product. Or they saw an ad or story or article about a Brand they previously had no knowledge of, and now they are intrigued. Not much of an opportunity for your package to move the needle in this stage. Unless it is your Brand that they ran out of. Which leads us to step two.
Next, consumers gather information to help make a more informed choice for the next purchase. If it is an everyday, lower priced product, they won’t spend too much time or effort—either online or instore—unless they were disappointed or learned of a new alternative product. Here is where you can influence that search and learn content and messaging that is relevant and important to your customer’s choice. Your package plays a key part here, as does your marketing (website, videos, testimonials, customer reviews, stuff like that). If there is more technical or clinical or environmental data that may be helpful, consider a QR code on your package to help customers dig deeper.
Now, step three—evaluation of alternatives. Here is where you want to be sure that your Brand and package are seen as superior to competitive offerings. If your Brand is more expensive, hopefully you have tangible advantages or benefits (including superior packaging) that help justify the higher cost. With global warming and the environment being more and more important to more consumers, any new claims or enhancements on sustainability can be motivating—and contribute to switching behavior.
All right, the moment of truth. The purchase decision. All the research and fact finding, and value comparisons have been completed. And your Brand won as the best option, as you met the consumer needs uniquely and distinctively. Your package design, functionality, materials, and labeling all played a critical role in that selection.
But you’re not done yet. Step five is the post purchase evaluation. Did your Brand live up to expectations? For performance in use, for ease of use, for fully satisfying the need or want. Is there a way to keep that customer engaged and more inclined to continue purchasing your Brand? If they are a heavy user with a high dollar annual purchase value, can you send repeat purchase coupons or discount codes? Can you offer a user newsletter, or insiders forum, with tips and tricks or other relevant content. Can you “recruit” the customer to be a Brand advocate, to share their happiness with your Brand with others? Word of mouth is a powerful and influential weapon.
This customer purchase journey plays out every day. And customer loyalty in many product categories is weakening, especially with so many promotional incentives being offered.
The point being that you might be well served to see how well you measure up not only in the market but also by doing some customer research. With today’s technology it is easier and cheaper to get some insights and tangible direction toward a better place for your Brand.
For sure, do before and after comparisons. For the package design, for the claims and product information, for the configuration, for the usability. But also do comparisons of your Brand to competitors. Learn more about how customers really view your product—online, instore, at home in use. And get underneath both the rational reasons as well as the emotional reasons why customers love your Brand or are only OK with it.
Show customers what your Brand looks like today, and then share a couple of alternatives. Ask for preferences of course, but also ask why. What did they notice first, what was the most important driver of that preference, what would they do differently (if anything)? And be ready to (honestly and humbly) listen to the voice of the customer. And make changes if you don’t like your scores.
At Damen Jackson, we love challenges like these. Having been there, done that, we can help energize and guide the entire process—or just the fix up, redesign work. We were recently named #14 among the top 100 marketing and design agencies by Agency Spotter Top Agencies.
And we win GDUSA Design Awards every year. Here is the most recent one for Differin acne treatment brand from Galderma: Differin
Importantly, we are pragmatic, focused, and energetic. We get projects done well, and quickly.
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