Packaging Screening and Optimization

In the process of packaging development, designers create a number of prototypes and design variations that need to be evaluated. The common methods for evaluation included qualitative research, quantitative research and conjoint analysis.

Exploratory qualitative research, described under exploration, helps in identifying ways to improve the packaging.

When several elements are being optimized, for instance different shapes, graphics, symbols, materials etc. then conjoint analysis can provide the combination of elements that consumers find most attractive or desirable.

The primary approach to screening and optimizing the prototypes is a quantitative assessment of the engagement (purchase intent, perceptions and attitudes, and communication) and shelf impact. This comprises 3 phases — engagement, ranking and shelf impact.

Phase I — Engagement

Engagement pertains to persuasion, perceptions and attitudes, and communication. The new packaging prototypes are tested monadically to prevent the bias of one design on another.

Each respondent gets to see one of the prototypes, preferably in 3D. The questionnaire typically covers the following aspects:

  • Purchase Intent is measured on a 5-point scale (from definitely will buy to definitely will not buy) or a smiley slider.
  • Likes/Dislikes (open-ended): Respondents are asked what they liked/disliked about the pack, and then ask specifically about the elements — overall design, graphics, text, shape, colours and so on. They are also asked for suggestions for improvements.
  • Uniqueness is measured on a 5-point scale or smiley slider.
  • Engagement (Image/Affinity): Imagery and perceptions are rated on a 5-point agree-disagree scale. Alternatively, for online surveys, respondents could click and drag the attributes on a visually engaging 2-D scale.

Marketers are usually interested in attributes such as persuasiveness (want to buy), stands out (grabs attention), uniqueness, contemporary, relationship and involvement (for me), quality image (high quality product) and aesthetics (appealing).

One or two communication messages are also rated here. For instance, “100% pure and natural orange juice”, taking Tropicana (Exhibit 14.2) as an example.

Phase II — Ranking

Respondents are shown all prototypes and current packaging, preferably in 3D, and are asked to rank them from favourite to least favourite.

They are also asked to rank the prototypes on how well they communicate the one or two key messages on the pack, e.g., which packaging best communicates “100% pure and natural orange juice”.

Phase III — Shelf Impact

Respondents are shown a virtual shelf and asked (unaided) what brands they recall seeing. They are asked (aided) if they recall seeing the test prototype, and what elements of the packaging they recall.

They are also asked to rate the prototypes on a 5-point scale, on the ease of finding the item.

Alternatively, the use of eye tracking devices described in the section Shelf Impact — Eye Tracking is an option, but this would require a controlled location, and it would constitute a separate study with smaller sample size.

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