Making decisions on package design, layout, and copy are among the riskier decisions of the new product development process. You can never be totally certain that you are making the right decisions until the product hits the stores. Nothing can entirely eliminate uncertainty. But getting consumer feedback before the packaging goes to the printer can greatly reduce the degree of uncertainty.

We’ve found that online surveys are a very cost-effective way to quickly get a read on how effective your packaging is going to be at catching shoppers’ attention at retail and making them want to buy the product. Here’s a case study of a package test we recently conducted.

The question the client needed to answer

The product was a handheld household cleaning tool that kills germs, viruses, and bacteria without chemicals. The manufacturer had come up with several different versions of the package. The question they needed to answer was: which design is going to catch consumers’ attention at retail and provide enough information to convince them that the product really works?

The methodology we used

We conducted an online survey with RMG’s proprietary HomeTrend Influentials Panel.

The respondents were shown three different versions of the front panel, side by side. They were asked three questions:

Which of the three is best at grabbing your attention?

Which of the three packages is best at communicating what the product does?

Which of the three packages is best at making you want to buy the product?

Next, the respondents were shown a list of six different product benefits and asked which was most important to them and why.

Next, the respondents were shown two versions of a side panel and asked which design did a better job of selling them on buying the product and why.

The findings of the study

Package B was the best of the three front panel options because it was better at communicating what the product does and making people want to buy the product.

Side panel A was the best of the two side panel options.

One product benefit was far more important than the other five.

However, the package did not answer some of the questions that prospective purchasers had about the product including specifics on how to use it and how it works. Further, the package did not offer enough “proof” that the product really works to overcome the natural skepticism that many consumers have toward technologies they are not familiar with.

The answer to the question

The purpose of the study was to answer the client’s question about which package design to go with. The answer to their question: Use front panel version B but use the more specific product claim. Add more information about how the product works to the back panel. Use the layout of side panel version A but add scientific proof that the product really does work.