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Ignoring the “Retail Realities” at your peril

One of the most commonly used advices pertaining to marketing is “Breaking through the Clutter”.

The clutter that mostly they address is the clutter in various mediums of advertising. But over the last decade, the Brand Owners have started considering the “Retail Shelf Clutter”.



Walk through any kiosk, super market or hyper market in any part of the world and you can find various brands crying for your attention. To ensure success, marketers should address

  1. Visibility
  2. Shoppability

Along with the marketers, Packaging Designers know that Packaging rarely appears as we would like it to be, at the retail shelf. They are knocked over, upside down, facing sideways, partially obstructed due to careless stocking, poor lighting or due to both.

But most of the marketers ignore these as “beyond our control”, “Not our responsibility”, “Cannot help”. With most of the shopping decisions happening at the store, ignoring these retail realities is at the brand’s peril. But how do you tackle these?

Packaging (Shape) Issues

Consider rounded containers. They look great in a controlled environment but in the retail shelf, they could be rotated, which could compromise what the brand wants to communicate. Sometimes, products like Toys have a clear window so that the shopper can have a peek at the product before he purchases.

Also, is your packaging structure in such a way that other products (Worse, your competitor’s brands) cannot be stacked on top of yours?

A typical store shelf is presented below. From the sea of options, how does your brand stand apart?. sometimes the best looking design will simply blend in and become invisible, while a simple design “pops up” better.

Shelving Issues

Do the brand owners & package designers know which part of the shelf their brand will be occupying?

They have to know the answer due to the following factors:

  1. A Package’s location on the shelf has a direct impact on how it is viewed by a shopper. If it is placed in the lower shelves, then the shopper would be viewing the top panel ( lid) of the package.
  2. If the package is stacked along with the private brands, how do you ensure that the package communicates the price premium to the shopper? And how do you differentiate so that you pre-empt the competition at that point?
  3. Often, retailers stock as much as possible to avoid stock-outs and so the side-panel might end up facing the shopper. Is your package ready for this?

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