5 Ways to Package Product Line Segments.
November 30, 2011 Ted Mininni
Large branded product lines invariably require segmentation. These lines contain product groups that appeal to distinctive market segments, each requiring targeted packaging. Effective packaging for product line segments looks simple and effortless, belying all of the research and hard work that goes into making it work properly.
Traditionally, market segments are identified by demographics, attitudes, lifestyles, purchasing behaviors and specific needs of various groups. Ultimately, consumer product brand owners and package creation teams must analyze the segmentation research carefully. Collaboration helps define marketing strategy and tactics, based on that research.
At the end of the day, each market segment has specific needs the brand must meet and promote to be chosen over competing brands. Identifying and being able to meet needs the rest of the marketplace isn’t currently doing is a tremendous asset to a brand, but it, too, must be brought out.
The best, most effective marketing tool for product line segmentation is packaging. The consumer tangibly interacts with packaging and proper segmentation speaks directly to them. If brand communication is strong and the iconography, package design architecture, imagery or color coding used to segment is effective, the products will appeal to the target audience. The goal to make category sales leaders of these brands then becomes achievable.
5 Major Segmentation methodologies.
These five major methodologies enable CPG companies to package product line segments successfully. They should be carefully considered before developing potential package design system concepts.
Color is commonly used to differentiate various segments of product lines. It can be used one of two ways. In overt color segmentation, a large area of the package design architecture changes color as the primary differentiator among segments. This works best for well-established brands; or when there are enough SKUs blocked in shelf sets to have sufficient presence at retail. Used in these three instances, consumers readily identify and understand the segmentation system, enabling them to hone in on the product that best suits their needs. Examples: One A Day multivitamins and supplements and Post Shredded Wheat varieties.
In color-coded segmentation architecture, a specific area of the package’s primary display panel is color-coded to distinguish among product segments. Sometimes a lid or cap is color-coded, as well. This visual communication becomes recognizable to consumers and assists them in choosing the best product for them. Examples: Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice varieties, Tom’s of Maine toothpaste varieties, Help remedies.
When a series of sub-brands exist within a product line, segmentation is a given. The visual components within the package design system may remain the same, except for a change in brand identity. A new sub-brand identity allows consumers to distinguish among product segments. Example: Mattel’s Hot Wheels “Color Shifters” vs “Trick Tracks”.
Iconography employs another visual element to help consumers discern the purpose or use of products within a segment. Icons are often too visually abstract, so they rarely stand alone. They are typically supported by written communication. This, too, becomes recognizable over time and assists consumers in selecting the proper product for their needs. Examples: Crest Pro Health toothpaste and Gillette Fusion ProSeries products utilize iconography with written brand communication for support. On the other hand, Duracell batteries feature well-designed iconography that clearly conveys the product use due to literal representation. Little or no brand communication is necessary to support it.
Segmentation involving imagery employs different visuals among product segments within a line. Typically, this approach is a secondary element, accompanying text as a more overt form of written communication. Imagery can be used in different ways. One involves lifestyle imagery that makes an instant and emotional connection with the consumer. Or different imagery can be used as background elements within the main product photo. If used consistently, various background images can effectively be used for each product segment within a line. Examples: Purina Dog Chow vs Purina Puppy Chow and the Downy Fabric Softener line.
When package architecture is established for a core product line, it can also be modified for a series of products that fall under a different segment. This especially applies to brands with licensed and non-licensed lines of products. There are similarities between both, but the architecture for the licensed product packaging provides more real estate for licensed property communication. Example: Hasbro’s classic Operation board game. Hot licensed properties like Shrek and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story 3 have landed on the operating table in newer versions of the game. Key design elements of the original Operation game are retained while the licensed property dominates with its own brand communication.
The whole idea behind effective segmentation is to make a product line easier to shop from the consumer’s point of view. From the brand’s, it’s about maximizing the effectiveness of packaging by appealing to the target audience. When consumers can easily identify the best product for their needs within a line sitting within a broader category on the retail shelf, the more likely they are to purchase it. Once visually “trained”, consumers are more likely to repeat those purchases, as long as the brand delivers on its promise.
Creative teams need to understand that the use of color, iconography, imagery and package architecture cannot always stand alone as differentiators, except in rare instances. Brand communication should be carefully and deliberately developed to support the segmentation approach that is ultimately chosen from among the proposed concepts as the best solution.
When properly executed, product line segmentation enables brands to own their categories. If consumer product companies are getting less than optimal results (read: sales and turn) from their branded product lines, it’s time to analyze whether their current segmentation is working or not. Chances are it isn’t. And that means it’s time to execute a refresh.
About the Author
Ted Mininni is President and Creative Director of Design Force, Inc., the leading package and licensing program design consultancy to the consumer product and entertainment industries. Ted's articles have been published in many noteworthy trade and marketing publications, in print and online, such as such as Brandweek, Adweek, Playthings Magazine, Brand Packaging Magazine, Package Design Magazine, Packaging Digest, brandchannel.com, TheDieline.com, MarketingProfs.com, License Magazine and Shelf Impact!, among others. Ted’s articles have also been picked up by international business blogs in Asia, Europe, Africa and the U.S. He is also an ongoing contributor to MarketingProfs.com’s “Daily Fix” blog, POP Online and Beverage World Magazine.
To contact Ted, please call 856.810.2277 x10, or send an email to email@example.com.