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Using Market Research to Design Better Product Creative and Packaging

  • May 5, 2023

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but in many industries, especially the CPG market, consumers are practically forced to judge products by their packages. As a result, CPG companies invest considerable time and effort into figuring out how to package new products to appeal to consumers. What colors and images should be on the label? What messages should be highlighted, and in what font? What bottle size and shape will lead to the most satisfying and enjoyable product experience? In short, what design will entice consumers to put the product in their real or virtual shopping carts? 

For designers to come up with the best product packaging and creative, they need to have an intimate understanding of their target consumers’ needs, preferences, and frustrations. To get that understanding, they can turn to both quantitative and qualitative market research.  

Quantitative Market Research: Large-Scale Testing 

Quantitative research allows companies to identify patterns and trends in consumer behavior at scale. Quantitative research starts with structured surveys or in-home usage tests administered to large groups of subjects. Researchers then analyze the resulting numerical data to draw conclusions about consumer behavior. 

Here are some examples of the insights that product creative teams can gather from quantitative market research: 

  • Measure consumer preferences and perceptions: Researchers can use questionnaires to gather data on consumer preferences for specific packaging shapes, sizes, materials, and colors.  
  • Test design elements: Researchers can survey consumers to gather data on the effectiveness of different product designs, images, logos, layouts, and messaging elements. 
  • Detect changes in consumer behavior: Researchers can use longitudinal panel studies to track changes in consumer attitudes and behaviors related to packaging, identifying emerging trends and adapting product design to meet changing needs. 
  • Monitor impact on sales: Market researchers can use point-of-sale data to analyze how changes in product creative and packaging styles affect consumer purchasing behavior and optimize their approach to maximize sales and revenue. 
  • Conduct A/B testing: Researchers can use quantitative data to compare the effectiveness of two different packaging designs. 

But quantitative research only tells part of the story.  

Qualitative Market Research: In-Depth Discussion 

With qualitative research, companies gather rich, detailed insights into consumer behavior, attitudes, and preferences by observing subjects and asking open-ended questions in interviews and focus groups. Qualitative research helps companies understand the WHY and the HOW behind consumers’ product interactions, purchase motivations, and design preferences. 

Recent advancements in technology have enabled brands to conduct this type of research in a consumer’s home through smartphone apps. Qualitative survey participants can record and upload videos of their product usage, giving researchers a raw, unfiltered look at how people actually use the product in real life, as opposed to sterilized and unnatural research environments, which affect usage and survey results. This can all be done on an asynchronous basis as well, giving research participants even more convenience and flexibility. 

Here are some ways that companies can use qualitative market research to improve product packaging and messaging: 

  • Understand consumer preferences: Qualitative data can dive into an exploration of factors such as wording and messaging tone as well as the color, shape, and size of product containers to determine why exactly consumers use a product and how they perceive its value. 
  • Identify unmet consumer needs: By conducting interviews or focus groups with target consumers, researchers can gather insights into consumer aggravations that can be used by innovation teams or incorporated into product creative to improve the user experience. 
  • Understand consumer perceptions: Focus groups and interviews can offer insights into how consumers feel about certain product features, designs, or labeling. 
  • Test concept designs: Researchers can convene focus groups to gather feedback on prototypes or conduct usability testing to identify areas for improvement in design and functionality. 

Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Research: The Best of Both Worlds 

If customers are going to judge your products by their labels, you need to understand what they’re basing those judgments on so you can meet their needs and exceed their expectations. By combining quantitative and qualitative market research, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of your target audience and design product packaging and creative that works, drives more sales, captures more market share, and increases brand equity. 

QualSights offers both quantitative and qualitative insights based on real consumers using real products in their own homes and on their own schedules. With QualSights, you get the information you need to design product creative that resonates with your target audience and drives more sales. Schedule a demo to learn more.

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