How to Design a Packaging That Overrides Competitors

A catchy, succinct and professional package design builds a brand’s solid foundation. It pops out on the shelves, enhances recognition and invites consumer loyalty and trust.  Remember, you only have four seconds to attract a shopper’s attention in order to realize why they should pick your item over competitors. Consumers also make the purchasing decision out of perception – and your package is what creates either a negative or a positive one. So if you want your product’s packaging to work for, not against, you, keep reading the following guide.

Questions to Answer before Choosing the Package Design

questions to ask before choosing the right packaging

Your package design, without even saying, help plan for the future because it contributes in sales, as it’s the first to draw attention in the grocery aisle (of course provided you’re keeping your product’s quality).

What’s your product?

  • What are you selling?
  • Is it small or big?   
  • What are its materials/components/ingredients?
  • Is it fragile?

Knowing the answer to these questions will help you consider the essentials of the product package.

  • A delicate or breakable product should have a more secure packaging.
  • An item with odd dimensions needs custom packaging shape and solution instead of a square or rectangular box.

Who buys your product?

Are you selling for adult men, women, children, senior or all groups? Is the product for the environmentally conscious?  Is it geared towards the low-, mid- or high-income markets?

Without even saying, the design should appeal to its market.  

  • For example, the product text should be larger if selling to seniors.  
  • Its packaging should be made of luxury materials if looking to attract the high-end market.

How are people buying your product?

Where are your customers buying? Is it online or in a brick-and-mortar store? Are they buying in a supermarket?  

  • If the product is sold online, make sure that the package does not have a lot of space inside which will cause it to rattle around during shipping.  
  • If you’re selling on a grocery shelf, the package design should catch the attention of the buyer to stand out the competition. (More on this later)

Brand Requirements: What Must Go with the Package Design?

Color and contrast

importance of color in packaging

It has to do with visibility. For example, a consumer scanning a shelf full of baby pink packaged items won’t stop by and notice your orange package.  Research the color wheel’s other side from the package designs of your competitors to improve shelf visibility (and impact).

  • Example: Your competitors use warm colors. Stand out on the shelf by using a cool color like green or blue. But then, consider your product.  Selling spicy fish marinade, for instance, you might not appeal to customers if your item is in a pink packaging.

Shape and structure

It is another way to stand out from the competition. Is the structure of your competitor’s package convenient? Does it permit recycling? If not, your product package might consider having these features.

Recently crackers, cereals, and other snacks are revolutionizing design with stand-up pouches.  It does not only allow content protection but also give way to better design options.


Specifically for printing, Pantone Matching Values or CMYK values, colors are great if you already have them.  When choosing a color, however, consider your consumer in mind.

  • What motivates them?  
  • How old are they?
  • What is their economic status?
  • What is their educational level?
  • What message do you want to send – serious, professional…?
  • What is the purpose of the product? Is it for health? Is it to make the customers feel good?  Is it to solve their problem?
  • What is their cultural preference?


Nevertheless, test the color of the packaging to measure its success and help you make adjustments when needed.  Later, we’ll talk more about testing product package design. 


Choose the proper fonts for the text, which should highlight information like usage instructions and weight.

You should also keep fonts legible and simple so that customers can easily read and understand. Otherwise, they might feel frustrated and lose interest for not being able to read what’s on the package easily.


a good packaging logo

For this aspect, you need to have a vector file if you’re putting on a logo on the item’s packaging.

Packaging Content

Before you start with the packaging, make sure to sort out the content that will come with it.  There may be some content to include depending on the industry due to legal reasons. But in general, it should contain:

  • Written copy: This includes the product name and its description.
  • Imagery:    Photo/s must be ready before the design process.

Exemptions: Cosmetics and food items need additional information.  The product packaging should include batch numbers and expiration dates as well. As these details will change regularly, you don’t want them to be printed directly on the packaging. For this matter, the package design should allow a space for the stamp or sticker for these details.

Other required marks: Nutrition information, barcodes and association marks, among other markings should go with the package design.

This also includes other mandatory details, including ingredients, pricing, and other required symbols.

Remember that the government, per country, has specific requirements for medical and chemical products as well.  

Hazardous and recyclable products may also require certain codes to check before going ahead with the product package design.

For example, you may want to check with the Food and Drug Administration or Federal Register and find out the ingredient and symbol requirements for your product. On the packaging’s front portion, you may also include standout features, such as “batteries included” or “fat-free” to attract undecided shoppers who compare the labels.

Make the Packaging Personalized

Customizing your product’s packaging is also beneficial.  For example, you may want to include a handwritten note if you’re selling a handmade product.

Doing so enhances the o customer’s overall experience.  Now if your product is a luxury item, your customers are expecting a custom-printed packaging with a minimal and elegant design.

Consider an Eco-Friendly Packaging

eco-friendly packaging

Environment-friendly products and sustainable solutions are a trend in packaging materials. 

You may want to consider it for a better product appeal. It also shows your concern to the environment because eco-friendly packaging can reduce carbon footprint and is biodegradable. It also helps improve your brand image, making customers feel that you’re a responsible company.

Make the Package Part of the Product Experience

The package is as important as the product itself because it improves the customer’s experience.  An example is Apple that uses packages that reflect user-friendly and sleek experience the buyers can expect from the product inside. 

Another example is Coca-Cola. Its package design makes it not only attractive but also commanding.

The red in its package design attracts attention, excites, and stimulates the senses because it signifies ACTION (Buy me!).  White (as font color) communicates simplicity and purity.

Overall, the brand is able to create a great customer experience on the product packaging alone – making a lasting impression that makes Coca-Cola memorable from one generation to the next.

Adjust Packaging for the Holidays

By adjusting your product packaging for the holidays (e.g. Christmas season) or occasions (e.g. Valentines, Father’s Day), you can make a connection between your community and your brand, and it is an effective marketing strategy as well.

An example here is Starbucks that releases holiday-themed packaging yearly.

seasonal packaging

As another tip, check out what your competitors are doing and try to differentiate.  That is why you need to anticipate the holidays all-year round and study what your competition has been up to, letting you understand the best design elements to include in your packaging for a specific holiday.

Do Some Style Testing to See Which One Would Have a Better Success

Why perform a package test? It’s the key to understanding the performance of your items in the retail store.  Eye tracking also helps your research team get the most out of the results and your design company with the right design approach.

One way to perform the package test is through the A/B testing – the terminology referring to the process of testing your customer’s response to two versions of the same variable.

Example, you can do runs on proposed food pouches – changing the font, color scheme, and even imagery – on a test group that would be willing to give you a feedback.  It can also be done through a blind study by presenting the package design samples without the test group knowing that you’re conducting a test.

In other cases, graphic designers of some companies create two package design versions for the launch of the product. Both these will be released, and then later, data will be gathered to track the consumer’s buying behavior.  After, results will determine which product package design is more successful than the other is.

Overall, the packaging of your product communicates your specific purpose. It conveys what the product can do for the customer and how your brand delivers those benefits.  Never miss the opportunity of creating lasting impressions in the minds of your customers now and for the years to come. As again, the product packaging is as important as the product itself.