The saying “a little goes a long way” is true for many things, and believe it or not, its also true when it comes to product packaging. And while the minimalism packaging trend is all the rage right now, stripping down your packaging is not necessarily the same thing.
Minimalism vs. Essentialism
In product packaging, minimalism is more about a certain aesthetic appeal. However, essentialism, such as stripping product packaging down so it only includes essential product information, is less about aesthetics and more about not overwhelming the consumer. If the consumer is overwhelmed looking at your product, you’ve already lost them. Even if every single tidbit of information seems important, when you put everything on the front of your packaging, it make nothing seem important. Consumers will tune out and purchase opportunities will be lost.
Even though minimalism and essentialism are technically different, they are closely related, so there are some questions of aesthetic when it comes to only including key information on a product package. By sticking to key facts on the front of the package, there will be less clutter, making the product more appealing to the eye of the consumer. If the product has more appeal, the consumer will be more drawn to it. Interaction with the product is an important step toward the end goal: purchase.
So how do you strip down your packaging?
What is a key product fact? What facts should be left to the back of the product, or left off entirely? Below is a list of 7 tips to help you answer these questions and make the right decisions for your product, brand, and customers.
- Break it Down: First things first. To begin the process, start by categorizing what type of product information you have on the label already or are considering for the label. This information will most likely be product information or selling points pertaining to: superiority over competitors, “green” or healthy components such as organic, Non-GMO, gluten-free, unique benefits, or professional endorsements. Basically, what makes your product unique and/or differentiates your product from other products in that market segment.
- Get to the Basics: Now that you know what you are working with, determine which of those things is most important to your consumers. Studies show that consumers consider products for a max of 3 seconds, so decide which unique selling proposition should be the main selling point to go on the main front label.
- Rank it: Next, rank the remaining pieces of information and attributes according to importance by dividing them into tiers. The top tier is the main selling point, while the second and third tiers are made up of multiple supporting points. Facts or attributes of second tier importance should go on the sides of the product, or smaller front panels if necessary. In your top one or two tiers, you will want to include callouts such as:
a) Organic, Non-GMO, Gluten-Free, Vegan
These four key callouts are particularly effective in the specialty food, beverage, and beauty market.
b) “Does not contain”
This includes product attributes such as Paraben-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, etc. These are also important for consumers to notice in a glance. Often those who are looking for those “do not contain” callouts are laser focused in looking for these claims. If this is on the front they will
c) Nutritional Claims
Think about your target customer what nutritional claims are important to them. This is especially important on supplements. Take a Keto product, a customer looking for a Keto product will want to know the grams of fiber, sugar, fat and protein. These are key facts the consumer will be looking for on the packaging, if you highlight these the consumer is more likely to pick your product over another.
- Throw it Out: Product information that ranks on the third tier belongs on the back of the product, and anything ranking below third tier might need to be thrown out completely.
- Be realistic: Before finalizing what will go on the packaging, consider the size of the packaging surface area you have to work with. Be realistic and mindful when planning out how much space will be taken up by product information. For food products, plan space accordingly to comfortably fit necessities like nutrition labels, allergy warnings, organic certifications, etc. Nothing should be crammed or cluttered. Use of empty white space is essential to let the consumer’s eye rest on the product.
- Cut it Down: When you decide on what information will make the cut for the final product packaging, it comes time to determine how to best present its importance to the consumer. In order for consumers to be drawn into your product, it must be easy on the eyes. This means that copy should be concise and clear, and extremely easy for the consumer to scan in that 3 second time window. Cut out any unnecessary words, confusing terms, or lengthy explanations.
- Aesthetic Appeal: Once you have arranged space for everything and have selected your key information, add design elements that are appealing to the eye. Make sure you have chosen the right size font and font style. Additionally, any logos or designs should be cohesive and should fit comfortable on the labels. Even though your product packaging has been effectively ‘stripped-down’, make sure the consumer can still recognize your unique brand identity and elements through the packaging.
Brands Leading the Way
Some brands have already experimented with stripping down their packaging and have had great success with it. Here a just a few of them:
With a simple graphic and the short, healthy ingredient list right on the brown wrapper, Bite Bars are a great example of an “essentialist” brand. Their packaging immediately communicates the unique selling proposition of the bars to the consumer – an all-natural healthy snack. It takes just one look at the wrapper to understand what the product is all about and it makes instantly makes a case to consumers to consider purchase.
Another example of a brand with successful stripped-down packaging is The Honest Company. The company has many different products, from personal care products to household cleaners to baby products. However, the simple and concise aesthetic of product packaging remains consistent across all the product lines. The packages include light floral graphics, the product name, scent, and very short list of ingredients, as well as certain symbols and logos.
The third and final brand is a facial grooming tool company called Harry’s. The brand offers products such as visually appealing razors, shaving creams, and facial and body care products, all at a reasonable price point. The product packaging includes a petite yet memorable graphic and a simple product benefit – intriguing yet straight to the point. Exactly what essential stripped-down packaging is all about.
In the end, a brand should be focused on building a relationship with their customers. The easiest way to do this is to establish trust by keeping communication lines open and honest when it comes to all products and the brand itself.
To do this, brands must use their products to bridge the gap and build that trust. So by keeping labels clear and honest, and by easily informing the consumer of key information via the packaging, brands can create loyal customers. All brands must rely on their consumers in order to be successful, so convince your consumers why they should choose you every time. Plain and simple.