Fundamentals of Packaging Design: Case Study “SmartSpud”

Packaging design is the visual representation of your product or brand.  It is the interface between the consumer and your product; and therefore it is vitally important you represent your product well and accurately to the consumer.

Product design can drive impulse purchases, reinforce brand message/equity, and visually stimulate consumers (either positively or negatively).  Below, we review some packaging design fundamentals for one product, The Smart Spud – a product that today resonates well with consumers; it is a Low Carbohydrate product which is designed to be interpreted as a “healthier” option.

But before design, however, we must observe the 4 P’s (Marketing Mix) of the Smart Spud (Note: Target Market are people with higher disposable incomes who love potatoes but don’t want to feel guilty about the carbohydrates they consume):

Product – The Product is a unique and premium potato product.  Low Carb potato, a ‘lighter’ option

Place – Only “Great Food” format stores, not discount stores

Price – 25% retail $ premium to other poly bag potatoes

Promotions – not applicable

Given that the Smart Spud is a high-end, healthier potato option, it is important all 4 P’s are congruent with the “premium & healthier” message (as well as design and the type of packaging used).   If the marketing mix is conflicting (ie a premium ingredient product with a discounted price?!), it will confuse consumers and weaken equity in your brand/product.

Let’s review the DESIGN strategy of this product:

The Name: Smart Spud – reinforces and/or hints at a “smart potato option”

–          Minimalistic design is used.  Minimalistic can be interpreted as “upscale”

–          Supporting Images – usually secondary and reinforce a  “healthier” message – in this case a waist-band measurement strap at the top of the bag design is used (difficult to see on image)

–          Colour – The predominate colours used are White (which reinforces the product is not “rich or heavy” but light and airy) and Blue (Blue is the standard in Canada to connote “healthier” option ie see President’s Choice Blue Menu sub Brand).  Therefore, we are borrowing the equity of an existing sub brand which already resonates ‘healthier’ with consumers.  We don’t need to recreate another.

–          Photo – note the use of a “serving suggestion” photograph.  In this case, a “mash potato” in a premium blue bowl is used.  It is simple and can be healthy.  A baked potato could have been used, however, baked potatoes can be synonymous with a “Loaded Potato” – ie sour cream, chives, bacon, etc.  Potentially marring our image of the healthy option.

 Remember, marketing and marketing design are subjective – this means they are open to interpretation.  While some design principles used above may work for this product, they may not for all.  What is important is you have an understanding of design basics, the market, and that your message is consistent with the 4P’s of marketing.  Consistent messages drive equity in your product.

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