Insider Series Webinar

Packaging Research Fundamentals
presented by Jerry W. Thomas and Tom Allen

Products that come in some type of package (box, cannister, bottle, pouch, tube, bag, cover, or other type of container) account for roughly 18% to 22% of the total U.S. economy. This estimate includes physical retail stores and the products they sell, as well as online retail sites and the products they sell, plus other distribution channels. Packaging provides utilitarian benefits (product protection, safety, delivery, storage, etc.) as well as serving marketing and advertising purposes (attract consumer attention, convey positioning and messages, project a desired brand image, etc.). Our focus today will be on the “marketing and advertising” aspects of packaging and how to optimize package designs, or “package graphics” if you prefer.

What are the keys to using research to develop and evaluate package designs? Let’s go back to the very beginning of the process, the pre-package design phase. The research should ideally begin at the beginning. Good qualitative research can be invaluable in helping marketing executives set correct goals and objectives for the new package design. This qualitative research should include an ethnographic component, the observation of shoppers in a natural retail environment, and perhaps in a usage environment. How do consumers shop the category? How much time do they spend in front of the display? How many packages do they pick up? How many shoppers read the details on the label? How many packages of what sizes are purchased? How does the consumer interact with the package in the home before, during, and after usage? What role does online sales play in the category, and what’s the package’s role in an online transaction?

Package designers will typically create a large number of rough designs (anywhere from 20 to 30 or more early-stage designs). The goal of research at this point is to identify the better designs and screen out the “dogs.” The winners, or survivors, go to Mid-Stage Research, where the number of designs is reduced again, and diagnostic feedback is provided to help improve the surviving designs. The Final Stage is quantitative testing (usually online) of the 2 to 3 final package designs to predict in-market success or failure. Qualitative research can be layered into this work flow at any point, if unanswered questions pop up or added analytical insight is needed.


Contact Decision Analyst

If you would like a pdf copy of the presentation please contact Jerry W. Thomas, President/CEO, he can be emailed at or Tom Allen, Senior Vice President, he can be emailed at Both presenters may be reached at 1-800-262-5974 or 1-817-640-6166.