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Home | Marketing Research Services | Packaging Research

Packaging Research


Package graphics and copy are critical marketing variables, particularly for nonadvertised or underadvertised brands in self-serve shopping environments. The package on a retail shelf is the last opportunity to influence consumers before they decide to buy. It’s the final sales pitch at the “moment of truth”. The better the package design and copy, the greater the likelihood that consumers will choose that brand. Any new package design, or significant change in an existing package, should always be subjected to the scrutiny of scientific consumer research.

The Starting Point: Qualitative Research

Before new package designs are created, it is always wise to conduct qualitative research to explore target consumers’ knowledge, frames of reference, perceptions, motivations, and needs related to the product category and your brand. What images, elements, phrases, symbols, and illustrations resonate with the target audience? The up front qualitative work helps identify the most important package-design elements and provides guidelines for the creation of new package designs.

PackageOpt™ (Package Optimization)

A package, or package design, consist of shapes, colors, images, fonts, brand name, and messages. The number of permutations of these elements (i.e., unique package designs) can run into the thousands. With PackageOpt™, it is possible to predict consumer reactions to all possible combinations of these package elements.

How Does PackageOpt™ Work?

Once the basic variables of effective packaging for a brand are identified through qualitative research, Decision Analyst's PackageOpt™ research methodology identifies optimal prototype packaging concepts, using choice-modeling experiments. Different brand name treatments, messages, themes, illustrations, imagery, colors, layouts, etc., can represent thousands of possible package designs. Each respondent usually sees five to 10 scenarios (i.e., combinations of variables). PackageOpt™ tests subsets of all of these possible combinations to predict the effectiveness of every possible set of elements. The top 10 or 15 packaging concepts are identified for additional package testing, beginning with PackageScreen®.

PackageScreen®

The package design process typically begins with the creation of a large number of “rough” or early-stage designs. A low-cost packaging research system to evaluate early-stage packaging ideas and concepts in batches of 10 to 20 at a time. It identifies the package designs that resonate with consumers, so that creative efforts can be focused on the better designs.

How Does PackageScreen® Work?

A representative sample of 300 target-audience consumers are recruited. These participants are invited to come to our encrypted Webserver and view the early-stage package designs. Each respondent sees all of the package designs one at a time (front panel only) on his/her computer monitor, in randomized order. Then each person views the package designs a second time and answers a series of questions about each design. The answers to the survey are fed into a mathematical model to calculate an overall score for each design. The highest-rated designs are recommended for further development.

PackageCheck®

The next step in the design process is to learn more about the better designs so that further improvements can be made. PackageCheck® provides this diagnostic feedback. PackageCheck® is a proprietary online-based, monadic pretesting system to evaluate early-stage packaging concepts.

How Does PackageCheck® Work?

A representative sample of target-audience consumers is recruited to view each package design online. Each respondent sees only one package design (i.e., a monadic test) and then answers a series of questions, including open-ended questions. The report includes answers to standard questions, compared to Decision Analyst’s action standards, as well as verbatim responses to open-ended questions. The verbatim detail is valuable to creative teams as they strive to improve the graphic design, as well as the copy. A typical PackageCheck® study is based on 75 to 100 target-audience consumers.

PackageTest®

As packages near the end of the design process, a more complete evaluation is required, with comprehensive measurements to assess all of the important elements of package design. PackageTest® is Decision Analysts’ comprehensive, online packaging research system to evaluate finished (or near-finished) package designs.

 

How Does PackageTest® Work?

A representative sample is recruited from one of our worldwide online panels, and qualified respondents are invited to evaluate the package design. Recommended sample size is 200. Respondents first see the package’s front panel, and later view the other panels. The research design is monadic (i.e., no respondent evaluates more than one package design). The respondents complete a battery of questions and diagnostic ratings about the package. The report includes answers to standard questions, as well as the coded responses to all open-ended questions, along with analysis and interpretation.

Our SellingPower™ mathematical model, based on a number of key variables, calculates an overall score for the package design and compares it to our action standards.

Custom/Ad Hoc Packaging Research

Shelf Impact

Regardless of the method of testing, one of the focal points of package research is the shelf impact or attention value of the package in the context of competitive packages. Does the consumer notice the package on the shelf? Can the consumer quickly identify the brand? Is the package appealing enough that the brand gets considered for purchase?

To evaluate shelf impact, we typically create representative displays of the test package in a competitive environment. The test package is rotated within the display. The displays (with the rotations) are shown to a representative sample of consumers. The respondents are questioned about what they see and what they understand as the length-of-time exposure increases. This methodology helps determine the visibility (or attention value) of a test package, relative to competitive packages. The attention value and brand registration of every package design are constant focal points of Decision Analyst’s research.

Virtual Shopping and 3D Animation

The retail shopping experience can be simulated online with virtual technology, so that respondents visually “fly into” a store and move to a shelf set where the test package is shown in a competitive context. Respondents are asked to choose the brand they would be most likely to buy if the products on the shelf set were the choices available. Respondents can click on packages to see greater detail, including ingredient statements and nutritional information. With 3D animation, packages can also be modeled so that respondents can rotate the packages to view them from many different angles. This is especially valuable if the package design involves a new shape of an unusual shape.

Eye-Tracking Diagnostics

For some packages, eye-tracking can provide additional diagnostic information. Depending on the product category and packaging issues, eye-tracking might be recommended. Eye-tracking can help reveal where a consumer’s eyes are focusing, show the pattern of eye movements, and map where the eyes are lingering. Pupil dilation can be an indicator of arousal. These measures are not predictive, but can add to our understanding of why the package scores as it does, and provide clues about how the package might be improved.

Packaging Research Services

Decision Analyst is a global marketing research and analytical consulting firm with over 35 years of experience in packaging research. We have tested hundreds of packages over the past two decades for leading consumer goods companies. We are a world leader in online packaging research. If you would like more information about Package Testing, please contact Jerry W. Thomas, President/CEO (jthomas@decisionanalyst.com), or call 1-800-ANALYSIS (262-5974) or 1-817-640-6166.


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