Guest Blog written by Tom Larsen – Managing Partner at TD Back Office (, a B2B service company that helps retail-oriented product manufacturers managed their back office operations (ie. Order Management, Inventory Management, Sales Support, etc….). Tom can be reached at 530-913-9334, by email at, or visit his website
Have you ever shopped for wine? Unless you do it a lot, the wine aisle is very difficult to shop. You may know what a Zinfandel tastes like, but, how do you choose among 50 different zinfandels at prices from under $10 to over $50. How do you know whether a $40 wine is 4 times as good as a $10 wine? How do you choose to buy the one you buy with no real way to know whether what is in the bottle will be good to you (I’m presuming everyone recognizes that everyone’s tastes are different)?
And on a bottle of wine, that’s not much space.
The only hope of the winemaker is to do the right job with their packaging to tell the story of what they want you to know or appreciate about their product which is inside the generic looking bottle.
Maybe the winemaker has a sense of humor and wants people to chuckle. Maybe the wine maker loves art and wants to appeal to others who recognize good art. Maybe the uniqueness of this wine is that it is from Arkansas.
Whatever the approach, whether you are looking into marijuana packaging or designing the packing for a cereal box, the packaging needs to tell the story visually through visuals, graphics and text, that will convert a shopper of zinfandel into a buyer of their wine at the price they want/need to stay in business. There also needs to be a safety aspect to any form of packaging. You can’t have anyone tampering with any product, especially not before it has reached the hands of your customers.
Whether it is the artwork, the fonts, the positioning, the color scheme, the message or any of a host of other attributes, if the artwork does not create a quick alignment with the shopper, there is no sale.
Given the critical nature of packaging for wines, there is an entire specialized niche of designers who have studied what is effective at converting shoppers into customers.
Unfortunately, many people new to consumer products hire a graphic designer. They know they need graphics and design. The most important way to convert shoppers into customers is left up to some friend of a friend who knows how to use Adobe Illustrator. Some data shows 80% of decision making for what to buy is made IN THE STORE!
Here is the most important piece of advice I can ever offer – when it comes to packaging, hire an experience consumer packaging designer.
Do the homework needed to know your likely shelf space location. Know your packaging needs. Walk lots of retail stores looking only at packaging and see what works to get your attention and why. Learn how to communicate with your packaging designer to collaborate with them to get your product the absolute best design possible for the space you want to occupy.
When you do that, buyers will jump on your product right away, and if they do, so do consumers. In a retail store, to displace an incumbent of the space it already occupies (the store is full already), you need to be special and effective. Not one, but, both.
Most problems in sell through of product in a store stem from a great idea that is not portrayed well in the packaging. Success, as it was with creating your product, comes to those who do the homework and create the team that can best visually articulate the core message THE CONSUMER needs to see to be converted from a shopper to a customer. (Don’t forget the goal of the package is to sell the product, not satisfy the ego of the designer or the founder.)