It should come as no surprise that the design and presentation of your product’s packaging is one of the most important factors in driving sales from the shelf. In fact, between 70% and 80% of purchasing decisions are made in-store. That’s why maximizing shelf impact by taking advantage of the billboard effect could be a sound strategy for your brand.
Today’s retail environments are built to overwhelm the senses. The sheer number of SKUs, point of purchase displays, advertising, and in-store offers make it difficult for individual brands to stand out based on name recognition alone. That’s where the billboard (or billboarding) effect comes into play.
By unifying your packaging design across multiple SKUs, you can make it easier for consumers to pick out your brand and increase its shelf impact. Think of the last time you were in the snack food aisle in the grocery store. When you see a line of bright red boxes with a blue and yellow logo, you immediately recognize Ritz.
When shoppers have already made up their minds about which category they’re going to buy, 28% won’t make a final decision on brand until they are physically in the store.  How can this be accomplished? Unified design is certainly an important part of the process. If your brand has a signature color, for example, that can draw shoppers’ attention and make purchase more likely. Memorable shapes can also play a part. Color and shape combinations can signal quality to a potential customer, and certain shapes can communicate brand identity—think back again to the distinctive shape of the logo and cracker of our example cracker brand.
The term “billboard effect” or “billboarding” is quite literal. It refers to creating a shelf sized billboard for your brand, whether with just one SKU or multiple items. A good example of this is in confections. Recently, US retailers have been favoring SKUs with stand up packaging over peg or lay flat bags. This is because stand up packaging creates a much more prominent and attractive face for consumers versus piles of lay flat bags that don’t stand out on store shelves. Frozen food manufacturers have also been trending in this direction. More and more, they are moving to flexible stand up packaging and moving away from lay-flat pillow packages for better shelf impact.
The billboard effect doesn’t just apply to crackers or candy—all packaging types can be modified to present a more brand-unified front. In recent years, for example, beverage manufacturers have been experimenting with can design that takes multiple round packages and creates continuity between them.
As a manufacturer, your packaging is your direct line of contact with a consumer. In less than a second, you have to convince them to focus on your product and put it in their cart. While other marketing efforts will play a part in this process, packaging design is still the lynchpin to your success at retail. Investment in packaging design will play a key role in the success of your business.