Packaging Front Panels – Your ‘Billboard’ for Shoppers  9/21/2016

If you’re brand is going to succeed on the shelf of a mass retail store, it must stand out from the crowd. Not only will it be among hundreds of other products within a passing shopper’s view, but it will likely be surrounded by competitors – some from the retailer itself. And if that’s not enough of a challenge, keep in mind that your target consumer is most likely in a hurry, might have a screaming child in tow and may not be looking for or aware of your product. Shoppers are simply too busy, impatient, and distracted to take the time to figure out what they are looking at unless it is crystal clear.

They have to be able to instantly understand -- in three seconds or less from a distance -- exactly what your product does and why they should buy it. And that is the job of the front panel packaging.

Less is more:
When it comes to front panel packaging, the fewer words, the better. Strive for one graphic image that clearly demonstrates the product’s primary benefits and make it large enough to be seen and understood instantly from 10 feet away. This is especially true for new products or brands. While you ultimately want to develop a long-term profitable sustaining brand franchise and household name, it makes no sense to devote an inordinate amount of space on the front of the package initially to a brand name, logo or an image that is totally unknown or unrecognizable. In fact, most new package front panels are guilty of way too much clutter which is the reason so many products fail.

Empty space can be a good thing on the front panel, especially when it draws attention and directs the eye to the key features. Your product may have 10 amazing product features and consumer benefits, but the front panel of your package is your primary billboard, with only enough room to discuss, at most, two such benefits, so pick the two best ones and make them count with a visually and attractively compelling call to action.

To determine what these two features should be, ask your target consumers through various consumer research venues what is most important to them about your product. In addition, consult knowledgeable retail buyers and category experts. Smart buyers will instantly recognize a package front panel that will stop traffic and motivate sales. (One way to do this is by leveraging ECRM’s EPPS meetings, which will enable you to get input from 50 or 60 buyers in just a couple of days).

The SmartGuard Elite Dental Guard package shown below does a great job on its front panel. It contains only one major graphic that demonstrates how the product fits on the front teeth, contains limited copy, and only focuses on two key features: preventing the clenching and grinding of teeth. You can even see what is inside the package just by looking at the front panel.

The remaining features can be added on the back, side, and bottom of the package in detail – the key is use the front panel to get the consumer to STOP and pick up your package and read the rest. It’s one of the most cost effective and best advertising weapons you have in your arsenal, as it’s always promoting your product 24/7. Make it count.

John O'Maley

Founder, CEO and President
John O’Maley & Associates (

John O’Maley is a 1973 West Point Graduate. Captain, Ranger, Airborne, 6-years active duty, U.S. Army, Last Military Assignment Tank/Armored Company Commander. P&G Alumni (manufacturing, marketing, sales). 34 total years in business. 22 Successful years as Founder/CEO/President of John O’Maley & Associates, National Sales & Marketing Consulting Company. 125 brands successfully launched. Contact: 513-227-7191

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