Many structural and graphic designers make a useful distinction between exploration and validation. The efficient use of research in the design of packaging must recognize the limits of what research can provide and not over-interpret the results.
Here I present eight tips to follow when embarking on a campaign to market research packaging design :
- Identify what you expect to find out. The choice of a method of inquiry must begin by first establishing clear objectives. What are the specific questions is trying to answer? If you cannot put the questions into words, it is unlikely to recognize the answers.
- Use the research in context. Research can inform the process, but it is dangerous to let the investigation dictate or define packaging design. The risk-averse companies tend to conduct investigations that reinforce existing attitudes and prejudices.
- Choose wisely. The type of research depends on the brand and the risks associated with change. Are you planning a radical transformation or is it a small evolutionary change? A mixture of research qualitative and quantitative is advised to assess the risks and rewards involved in a brand revitalization project.
Ciao Bella used a testing method such as “survival of the fittest” to evaluate 6.7 million design concepts that led to the success of its award-winning packaging design.
- The Focus Groups are limited. Consumers do not understand their own motivations and rarely can articulate properly. In addition, Focus Groups are often dominated by a “leader” in the group and the responses of the participants are very much influenced by that individual. Research requires great discipline to recognize the right conclusions, in the right way, in the right context.
- Keep an open exploration. It’s part of human nature to reject the unknown. In general, consumers can not imagine or predict how new ideas could respond to them. Do not interpret the data literally. Add intuition and instinct to create value. Ask open-ended questions and use rating scales to sound preferences. Use qualitative research to start to explore options and possibilities. Recourse to quantitative research to support qualitative research and demonstrate that the insights are real.
The “shoppability” Friendship milk products were strengthened with the migration to a simple concept, which achieves high impact because shoppers to scan the shelf milk seek information fat content first.
- Remember that the packaging does not live in isolation. The packages are almost never alone on the shelves, on counters, in cabinets or in the trash. The techniques of eye-tracking can be useful to measure where the eyes of consumers when they see a direct packaging.
- Use prototypes effectively. Try to get instinctive and immediate reactions to shapes, colors and graphics before critical thinking takes over the views of consumers.
- You control the data and not vice versa. Examine closely the reports but be careful not to see things that are not there. It is a natural tendency to see connections and causalities that do not necessarily exist. Consumer research is directional and subjective, not a recipe.