There’s no one definitive rule about the time to update your retail packaging, but there are plenty of red flags. Some of them will be about you. Some are about everyone else. All of them have the potential to sink sales and damage your brand if they’re ignored. Packaging has a serious impact on consumer behavior in the aisle—and you want it to be the positive kind.
With decades of experience in the business, here’s our advice on the top 4 signs to look out for:
1. The six-year rule.
Six years is a generous cycle length for design updates in the retail packaging industry. If you change your packaging every year or two, you risk alienating loyal customers. But if you’re waiting more than six years, you risk falling behind the times and looking dated (or, at the very least, losing your buzz while competitors are trying out fresh modern branding and packaging styles).
Your brand and even your industry will have evolved over the better half of a decade, and past packaging decisions will lose their relevance. However, no packaging changes should be scheduled just for the sake of it. Carefully consider and research the movement of the market to ensure that you’re prepared to adjust your strategic positioning for relevancy and modern design sensibilities.
2. The competition has a great new look.
Keep an eye on your closest competitors. Consumers notice when a brand tries a fresh new look, and you don’t want to have a stale and tired look by comparison. It’s no accident that many major global brands go through conveniently timed retail packaging updates in close succession with the competition. If a rival brand updates their retail packaging design—or an innovative new style of packaging altogether—and you don’t respond in kind, you’re risking a substantial loss of market share.
3. Your retail packaging costs are out of control.
Every ounce of competitive advantage matters. Keep vigilant for any sign that you’ve overpaid for an outdated or inefficient packaging style. Technology and packaging materials continue to evolve with newer, cheaper, better options. Protect (and boost) your margins by staying current. Today’s packages are made with lighter materials and cost less to produce or ship than packaging solutions of the past.
For example, rigid packaging like jars, jugs, boxes, and bottles take up more space and are more expensive to produce, stock, and transport than flexible packaging. According to figures from the Flexible Packaging Association, flexible retail packaging solutions (such as versatile plastic pouches) can give you:
- 66% reduction in solid waste vs. rigid packaging
- 88% reduction in fossil fuel (petroleum) to produce than rigid containers
- 72% reduction in weight of waste to landfills vs. metal cans (even considering the recycling rate of metal cans)
- 10% of the total packaging weight compared to metal tins or cans
It’s no mystery why eye-catching flexible packaging is trending in the retail industry, where margins are tight and space is of the essence.
4. The needs of the industry have changed.
Perhaps new regulatory requirements have been issued that move the goalposts on your old retail packaging design. Perhaps consumer research has revealed changes in their appetite for particular colors, messages, packaging styles, or materials. Or maybe the retailers themselves have demanded changes due to the performance of certain product categories in their aisles. Whatever the reason, things change and you may be under external pressure to move forward.
Don’t Lose Sight of Your Brand Identity
Even if you’ve decided to redesign your retail packaging, don’t lose yourself in the shuffle. Make sure any updates to your look continue to reflect your preferred message, value to the consumer, and core differentiator. Also ask yourself whether your customers will still recognize your brand. No unique retail packaging design is worth losing a core audience that’s been loyally purchasing the product for years.
If you’re ready to explore your options for a retail product packaging update, give us a call. We’re ready to show you exciting new packaging styles that have been trending overseas and are just starting to get a foothold in the U.S., where they’re already showing incredible results.