LET’S BE REAL. The morning cereals now sitting in your cupboard didn’t become your favorite because you got promised crunchiness and high fiber content.
One day you must have found yourself in your favorite grocery store staring at a gigantic shelf full of bright boxes and pondering hard on what the best choice would have been, until one in a hundred boxes struck your attention. This is how those cereals made their entrance in your life, and chances are you have been a loyal customer of that brand for a very long time. You didn’t even see the actual content of the box, and nonetheless you decided to give your trust and money to a bunch of mixed colors, catchy taglines, some paper and plastic.
This is the POWER of PACKAGING. And if you own a chocolate company and aim to be successful out of your neighborhood, you should know more about it.
This might be the reason why the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) decided this year to dedicate its summer event in NYC to this topic. On June 27, 2015 the most important personalities in the field gathered together to discuss ‘Designing Success: Visual Identity and Packaging for Fine Chocolate’.
One of the four Table Talks hosted at the event was lead by Matt and Yelena Caputo, President and Vice President of A Priori Specialty Foods, leading importer and distributor of craft chocolate brands based in Salt Lake City, UT. Just so you know, A Priori is experiencing 300% growth year to year. Matt has a 10-year-experience in the import and distribution of premium chocolate, and together with his wife Yelena has to make decisions every day on which chocolate brands are IN or OUT their elite catalog. Therefore, they had the perfect expertise to tell us what chocolate companies have to do in order to ‘Own the retail shelf and entice the uncommitted consumer’.
Here is my summary of their precious insights:
Don’t be a drag! Make it professional – Your 10-year-old lovely daughter might have an immense talent for drawing and will most likely become a great artist in the future, but she shouldn’t start her career on your chocolate bars. Nowadays competition is too fierce to let amateur designs survive on the market. Hire professionals, tell them 5 things about your vision and let them come up with the best concepts for a competitive package. Don’t be afraid to spend great part of your budget and time in the packaging process. It is the FACE of your company we are talking about – do you really want to be cheap on that?
Face the enemies – Once your designers have come up with some ideas, don’t evaluate them on the desk of your office. It is not there that they will be showcased. Bring them on the shelves where your competitors are, and compare your concept with other brands. How does your chocolate bar look like? Does it stand out? Do the other packages outshine yours? You are now looking with the eyes of the consumer and it is from this point of view that you should make a decision.
Only 10 seconds to shine – Don’t expect your regular consumer to spend half an hour deciding the chocolate bars to be brought to the cash register. According to Matt, consumers take no more than 10 seconds to go through a shelf of chocolate bars. You have that short time frame to give the viewers good reasons to pick your brand instead of the others. Act accordingly.
SHOW, don’t tell – Let’s say you have been good enough to be picked among all your competitors. Once in their hands, the consumers will also here take only a few seconds to make a judgement. How does the package feel like? Thin, full, soft, cheap, high-quality? Yelena suggests that “You need to have some kind of textural component to make an impression.” Moreover, the temptation to put on your package everything you have to say about your company and product is strong. But you have to resist! Rivers of words could actually damage the power of the design you created. Stick to Matt’s rule: 30 words or less in no more than 3 points. Your design has to speak for you, and the consumers will only go through the most relevant info anyway. So keep it short and simple.
In the end, packaging is more important than the content itself. No one will ever know how good your chocolate tastes if you don’t get picked out of the shelf. I experienced it myself when I was tweeting LIVE from the Summer Fancy Food Show 2015 last weekend: on a mission to spread the word about the most intriguing chocolate brands at the Show, I didn’t pick the ones whose packages weren’t impressing.
Therefore, remember that packaging has the power to either raise or drown sales. And as Matt Caputo taught us:
“We evolved from apes. We like pretty things. We eat with our eyes first. Packaging is EVERYTHING.”
Thank you Matt and Yelena!
What is YOUR experience with chocolate packaging?
I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.