brands people crave

Make Your Food Packaging Stand Out by Fitting In

Everyone has a favorite food. Whether it is chocolate chip cookies or artisan nachos, consumables are part of our social fabric. Food preferences can be passed down from family members or they can be part of a trend. While the product may have variations in ingredients, such as vegan chocolate or organic jalapenos, the packaging may truly make it pop on the shelf. The food itself isn’t the only part of the specialty food market to which you’ll want to pay attention. “Packaging is a huge part of the industry; sometimes packaging alone can help launch a food product to success, especially if it’s unusual.” says Entrepreneur magazine. Make your packaging stand out by fitting in and on the shelf.

Present the familiar

Consumers prefer the familiar. This harkens back to our cave dwelling days, when new foods could be toxic. Consumers stick to what they know as a rule that can be used to a business’s advantage. There is no need to trek to the Andes for a secret ingredient that may make your product so cost prohibitive that price points will be out of the range of your target market. Focus instead on the packaging. Customers will prefer a unique design over contents that are untested and too expensive.

Distinctly creative

In an effort to stand out, some companies attempt to make their designs a bit too distinct. Colors may be brash or the containers may be a challenge to manufacture. It may seem like a good idea to invest in specialized equipment. The concept, however, may not pay off overall. Take for example boxed water…this concept is not unusual in the wine industry and box juice industry, but has proven to be unusual in the water industry. This leverage has given boxed water a distinct edge. Keep in mind that anything too unique will have larger start-up costs to create an original container.

Another thing to keep in mind is how it will merchandise on the shelf. This can be costly, and a non-established brand cannot require a special shelf nor induce challenges for stores. Doing so may label your product as difficult. Invest in a creative rather than complex design. If your product stands out too much for the challenges it represents in a retail space, the store may not stock it. If you decide to leave retail portion to someone else, don’t be lured into a space with a storefront that doesn’t quite meet your needs. If you are sure what to do, a good initial step is to research how your competition does it.

Valued and valuable

Keep in mind the inclinations of your target market. For example, Baby Boomers are in the empty nest phase of their life while Millennials champion the environment. Millennials are used to endless options whereas Baby Boomers have not been. Those born from 1981 to 2000 crave sustainability and limited edition packaging, seeking a human element to counterbalance the endless time spent in front of screens, just as those who used to have a full house are now adjusting to solitude. Make them feel valuable and valued.

Baby Boomers have the strongest buying power. Studies have shown that while this generation has been pitched about health, there is a disconnect as they have a plethora of health woes. Healthy aging is a media-induced concern; this generation actually values comfort as the top priority. Both generations do not like waste. When designing your packaging address shared concerns to appeal to both primary and secondary target markets to increase profitability.

Play with colors

Colors provide sensory and emotional experiences for consumers. Play around with colors and creative designs to capture the short attention span of a consumer. If you are creating a consumable for a targeted age range, research their preferred palettes. Younger generations prefer metallics and saturated tones while older generations may enjoy a patriotic color scheme.

Next steps for your new brand

Not sure what type of food product you’d like to invest in? “The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2015” and “Small Food Companies Gain Ground on Big Brands” can give you insight into what happening in this $100 billion specialty food industry.

  • Specialty food stores captured a 10.6 percent share of the overall specialty food market.
  • Fastest-growing food categories were eggs, and refrigerated pasta and pizza sauces.
  • Top 10 specialty foods in 2015 (in this order):
    • cheese
    • coffee
    • frozen meats and seafood
    • chips, pretzels, snacks
    • bread/baked goods
    • candy
    • condiments
    • frozen entree
    • yogurt
    • nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and veggies


Focus on the global picture and discover your profitable niche. Your product more than likely is presentable in its current state and ready for market. Well-designed packaging should allow you to stand out while being easy to place on a shelf. Research your niche and target those within marketing parameters by addressing pain points directly on the package.

Are you looking for a savvy food packaging design agency to help you with your new product? Contact us today.

For more resources, check out our food packaging design guide.