There is no clear rule about when to update retail packaging, but there are also many red flags. Some are about you. Some are about other people. If you ignore these issues, they may reduce your sales and damage your brand. Packaging has a serious impact on consumer behavior in the aisle—the kind you want it to be positive.
Based on our decades of experience in the industry, the following are the 4 major signs we recommend:
1. Six years of rule.
Six years is a generous cycle length of design updates in the retail packaging industry. If you change the packaging every two years, you risk alienating loyal customers. But if you wait for more than six years, you may be behind the times and look outdated (or, at least, you will lose vitality when competitors are trying fresh modern brands and packaging styles).
Your brand and even your industry will evolve over the past five years, and past packaging decisions will lose relevance. However, packaging changes should not be arranged just for its sake. Carefully consider and study market trends to ensure that you are ready to adjust your strategic positioning to relevance and modern design sensitivity.
2. The competition has taken on a new look.
Keep an eye on your closest competitors. When brands try a fresh look, consumers will notice that you don't want to have an old and tired look, by contrast. It is no accident that many of the world's leading brands are following the competition with timely retail packaging updates. If a competitor brand updates their retail packaging design -- or an entirely innovative new packaging style -- and you don't respond in kind, you risk losing market share.
3. Your retail packaging costs are out of control.
Every ounce of competitive advantage counts. Be alert for any signs that you are paying too much for sloppy or inefficient packaging. Technology and packaging materials continue to evolve to provide newer, cheaper and better options. Protect (and increase) your profits by staying current. Today's packaging is made from lighter materials and costs less to produce or ship than packaging solutions of the past.
4. Industry demand has changed.
Perhaps new regulatory requirements have been issued that change the goals of the old retail packaging design. Perhaps consumer research has revealed changes in their needs for specific colors, messages, packaging styles or materials. Or, because of how certain product categories behave in their aisles, the retailer itself may request changes. Whatever the reason, things will change and you may face external pressure to move forward.
Don't ignore your brand identity
Even if you decide to redesign your retail packaging, don't get lost in the shuffle. Make sure any updates to your look and feel continue to reflect your preferred message, value to consumers, and core differentiating factors. Also ask yourself if your customers will still recognize your brand. No unique retail packaging design is worth losing the core audience that has been buying products for years.
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