A perennial challenge for brand owners and designers alike is the need to have mastery of efficient and effective communication on the front of packaging.

Tangible has decades of experience helping tackle the challenge by bringing a consumer and shopper perspective into the process with tailored testing using standardised research under our PackMaster methodology.

For the purposes of this, we are not referring to branding as such, or the equity building graphics or design elements which are an essential part of a brand’s asset palette (we have more on that in our Tangible Branding design methodologies).

Our focus here is on the key questions:

  1. What are the messages we should include on front of pack?
  2. What is the optimum hierarchy of messaging?
  3. How can we manage a whole range of attributes, features and benefit claims?

The answers are all about effective simplification and this requires an understanding of what matters most to buyers –when in shopping mode and as end user consumers. We know there is a difference in the role of packaging design at each of the two key moments of truth: on shelf at point of purchase; and then in hand and in use. So let’s be clear about the primary task we are addressing: how to simplify packaging claims to those that improve efficiency and effectiveness of communication at point of sale.


The Principles:

On pack messaging can be a messy business, not least because of different levels of information. So we believe it is best to create some clarity and order by classifying information into 3 groups:

  • Attributes (e.g. ingredients or descriptions)
  • Features (e.g. functional elements buyers require from the category)
  • Benefits (e.g. proven claims or associated results that are derived from the combination of Features and Attributes)

Once classified we believe its necessary to edit and prioritise :

  1. in the first instance by ensuring the inclusion of essential information for all buyers (without the essentials there is a risk of creating an unintentional purchase barrier)
  2. and then secondly, and most crucially, prioritising elements which have the potential to be distinctive (creating a reason to drive choice by sticking in the memory and be associated with the brand).

The research process can help with this prioritisation and then be used to build a framework for selecting winners – for picking the design execution that works best from a range of options. So Tangible has a set of criteria based on the principle that Motivation to purchase is a function of achieving the right balance of Appeal, Relevance, Credibility and Distinctiveness.

Decision Framework
Criteria Design Importance

the principle defined by research

On pack Performance

the execution evaluated by research


The research approach:

Step One: Qual IndiPacks

If needed, the starting place is a quick fire round of qualitative research, using one to one, face to face interviews of category buyers to understand how consumers make sense of the range of information on packs in the category and the brand under review. These interviews also help with developing a brand lexicon, addressing ambiguity or misunderstandings especially around ingredients and claims.

Step Two : Quant PackMaster test

A two part online test is conducted amongst a large sample of category and brand buyers. Using a structured questionnaire and advanced statistical techniques (Max Diff/ Conjoint) to analyse the findings the hierarchy of importance of features and benefits are identified. The design routes under investigation are then rated (individually and on a simulated fixture) against these importance criteria and assessed for there performance using the proprietary PackMaster tool.

The results :

An objective, consumer perspective on what matters most and which packs are likely to win at point of sale. Problem solved.