Research for Pack Designs


Pack design has to satisfy a wide range of requirements: besides attracting attention, generating involvement and highlighting product characteristics, it also has to convey product and consumer worlds and radiate value and quality.

We support the quest for the optimal pack design with a differentiated set of test techniques – starting with the first qualitative, experimental design routes and extending all the way to final proofing in the competitive context.

Pack Lab
Developing innovative pack routes in an experimental visual dialogue with the consumer.

Pack Lab
Developing innovative pack routes in an experimental visual dialogue with the consumer.

In the Pack Lab, we outline routes for the pack design, compare product expectations with the semiotic qualities of individual design elements, learn from the dos and don’ts in the current packaging landscape and use creatively playful techniques to develop new designs. And ultimately, of course, we obtain feedback on the initial pack designs.

In the methodological tradition of Co-Creation and the Creative Lab, the interaction between designers and consumers generates new input which is then implemented by the designers and presented to the consumers again. This gives rise to an experimental visual dialogue that incorporates customers’ needs and expectations a priori without over-challenging the consumer by expecting him to serve as a “creative designer”. The Pack Lab focuses on projective, associative and creatively playful techniques:

  • Projective and associative exercises on the product category and brand in order to obtain fundamental input on the semiotic quality of individual design elements.
  • Spontaneous, associative consideration of existing pack designs in order to identify fundamental dos and don’ts.
  • Playful, associative Dream Journeys to the sensory experience realms “smell”, “taste”, “touch”, “hear” and “see”
  • A creative, experimental approach to materials, shapes and colours
  • Mind maps and projections on current trends in order to generate more far-reaching input from different contexts.
  • Critical feedback on initial scribbles and pack elements

Pack Screener
Measuring potential and identifying promising routes for ongoing pack development.

Pack Screener
Measuring potential and identifying promising routes for ongoing pack development.

It is precisely the most successful creative processes that entail a problem: variety. A variety of competing ideas and design routes that follow totally different paradigms. From a strategic perspective, all of them are basically feasible – but which of them is the most promising?

Especially when dealing with a broad spectrum of competing concepts and routes, it is impossible to take them all further and implement them all in a final pack concept. Instead, initial designs and renderings have to be used as a basis for selecting the most viable routes at an early stage so as to make the ongoing design development more efficient.

This is where the Pack Screener comes in by accelerating and objectifying the strategic decision-making process. The starting point is a multitude of experimental pack concepts whose potential is to be evaluated. The goal is to assess the inner logic of the individual routes and their design appeal on the basis of initial renderings:

  • Stopping power and uniqueness: to what extent do the routes succeed in generating attention?
  • Likeability of the idea: Does the pack concept go down well? Is it accepted by the consumer?
  • Structural makeup of the pack: clarity, lucidity
  • Appeal of the key visual: How is the key visual perceived? What concrete message is communicated?
  • Communicative performance: To what extent does the pack succeed in conveying the relevant functional and emotional product benefits? How good a fit is it with the brand values?

Besides identifying the most promising routes, the Pack Screener also aims to identify superordinate design clusters and taste patterns and use them for ongoing optimizations: Which overarching logics and semantic content can be derived from the evaluations and preferences and what consequences does this have for the ongoing design process?

Pack Booster
Statistics meet creativity:
finding the right mix from amongst thousands of creative options.

Pack Booster
Statistics meet creativity:
finding the right mix from amongst thousands of creative options.

Four strategically relevant pack shapes. Five visuals. Three basic colours – each of them in two shades. Four closure solutions. Two label concepts. Three claims. And four variants for this and that. All in all, that makes a good 10,000 potential pack designs. You can’t test them all. But if you don’t want to risk adopting an artificial and rationalising approach to pack design, you can’t detach individual design elements from their context and investigate them in isolation either.

This calls for close collaboration between pack designers and researchers. And that is precisely what the Pack Booster facilitates in concentrated form. In terms of research methodology, the Pack Booster is a hybrid: It delivers in-depth qualitative insights on the pack design combined with success projections based on quantitative procedures. This takes place in two steps:

Step 1: Development of sample designs:

  • Statistical and stochastic procedures are used to identify a manageable number of relevant sample designs from amongst the thousands of potential permutations of the individual design elements.
  • Each design element is transported into different contexts and has to prove itself in combination with other design elements.
  • The variants thus identified provide the input for the pack designers, who now have to incorporate the input creatively and come up with an optimal combination of the various design elements.

Step 2: Testing of the pack designs that have been developed as a holistic and harmonious entity consisting of various design elements:

  • Which key design logics and clusters can be identified?
  • How relevant are the individual design parameters? What are the “must-haves”, what are the “nice-to-haves”?
  • What semiotic quality do the individual design elements possess? How can it be used strategically?
  • How can the individual design clusters be enhanced and given an even more distinct profile?

In this way, a differentiated mix of qualitative and quantitative methods is used not just to identify winners and losers but, most importantly of all, to identify design logics and bring them into focus.

Pack Performance Check
A dress rehearsal before the POS:
quantifying the prospects of success – identifying optimization potential

Pack Performance Check
A dress rehearsal before the POS:
quantifying the prospects of success – identifying optimization potential

In the Pack Performance Check, the finished pack concepts are investigated in the form of dummies. Under real conditions, in a realistic shelf setting and with relevant competitors.

The various phases of pack communication are replicated in a shopping simulation and the corresponding strengths and weaknesses of the individual pack designs evaluated – with the optional support of eye or mouse trackings:

  • How high are stopping power and spontaneous purchase impulse?
  • How strong is the consumer’s emotional involvement?
  • How well are the central product characteristics and benefits communicated?
  • How good a fit is the pack with the value world of the product category?
  • How clearly and lucidly is the pack designed?
  • How much is the pack liked with regard to aesthetic aspects?
  • How high are the brand fit and congruence with brand values?
  • Does the pack correspond to the price positioning?

This allows the pack to be put through its paces prior to launch and helps identify room for improvement.

Pack Range Optimizer
Pack design in the range context:
avoiding cannibalisation – optimizing value creation.

Pack Range Optimizer
Pack design in the range context:
avoiding cannibalisation – optimizing value creation.

A pack design geared towards the individual product often faces a dilemma. On the one hand, it wants to create a highly attractive pack design that will stand out in the competitive environment; on the other hand, a highly attractive design can find itself in conflict with the need to ensure clear differentiation within the range so as to avoid cannibalisation and ensure the greatest-possible creation of value.

It is therefore necessary to find a simultaneous, cross-range optimization that brings the individual products together in a way that ensures optimal profits and sales for the entire range.

This is precisely what the Pack Range Optimizer does by:

  • Analyzing the benefit and value of the product features and pack elements.
  • Developing pack alternatives tailored to individual customer segments.
  • Sounding out willingness to spend and trade-offs, both within the range and in the competitive environment.
  • Identifying the maximum profits and sales for an optimal price and feature mix for every product in the range.
  • Considering more than one hundred thousand different feature scenarios to ensure the simultaneous optimization of all the packs involved.

Shopper Experience Check
Pre-tail & re-tail:
shopper insights for more transparency in the purchase process.

Shopper Experience Check
Pre-tail & re-tail:
shopper insights for more transparency in the purchase process.

Observations of behaviour at the Point of Sale show that, even in the case of complex and high-value products, the consumer is able to scan the range of goods available and make his purchase decision within a very short time.

However, the consumer can only reflect on how his decision comes about to a limited extent. Surveys fall short because the consumer often isn’t aware of the drivers that determine his behaviour. In addition, the time and place at which the decision is made are often different to the time and place at which the decision is acted on, because preference-steering predispositions are often formed far in advance. When the consumer is surfing the net. Or talking to colleagues. Or sometimes at the store itself after all. As a result, shopper insights are an important area of focus for marketing interest.

For us, shopper insights don’t start at the POS, they start at home with the consumer: when he writes his shopping list. Or when he’s looking for product information and reports from other buyers online.

At the POS itself – be it offline or online - behavioural observations, interviews and eye-tracking create transparency. What stages does the process go through? What communication tools are used? Which products make it onto the shortlist?

This means breaking the purchase decision down into a multitude of individual dimensions and touchpoints that can potentially influence the decision-making process. Bivariate and multivariate techniques are then used to analyze the influence of the individual dimensions:

  • How relevant are the individual dimensions (such as e.g. product, brand, pack, stickers etc.) for the purchase decision?
  • What determines the details of each individual dimension?
  • How successfully do the individual brands and products work in this respect?

The methodological mix of qualitative accompanied shopping trips and statistical tools for identifying the drivers in the purchase situation combines reliable numbers with qualitative depth of focus, helps pinpoint and understand the relevant touchpoints and their mechanisms and thus develop targeted shopper marketing measures.

Home Placement Check
The crash test: the pack in everyday use.

Home Placement Check
The crash test: the pack in everyday use.

Willingness to repurchase and recommend everyday goods drops rapidly when the pack can’t cope with everyday life. Putting the pack through a Home Placement Check helps avoid this trap. Interviews and diaries accompany the new pack in everyday use. The test phase lasts for several weeks, thus ensuring the pack is put through its paces thoroughly and confronted with the many and varied hardships real life has in store for it:

  • How convenient is the pack under everyday conditions: transportation, storage, keeping, removal, reclosure?
  • Does the pack meet functional design objectives such as e.g. freshness, safety, simplicity?
  • How is the pack experienced? Does it meet emotional positioning objectives such as e.g. well thought-out, sophisticated, clever?
  • Are there any signs of wear and tear or problems with its dimensional and colour stability?
  • How high is the consumer’s willingness to repurchase and recommend the product?

Research for Pack Designs


Pack design has to satisfy a wide range of requirements: besides attracting attention, generating involvement and highlighting product characteristics, it also has to convey product and consumer worlds and radiate value and quality.

We support the quest for the optimal pack design with a differentiated set of test techniques – starting with the first qualitative, experimental design routes and extending all the way to final proofing in the competitive context.

Pack Lab
Developing innovative pack routes in an experimental visual dialogue with the consumer.

Pack Lab
Developing innovative pack routes in an experimental visual dialogue with the consumer.

In the Pack Lab, we outline routes for the pack design, compare product expectations with the semiotic qualities of individual design elements, learn from the dos and don’ts in the current packaging landscape and use creatively playful techniques to develop new designs. And ultimately, of course, we obtain feedback on the initial pack designs.

In the methodological tradition of Co-Creation and the Creative Lab, the interaction between designers and consumers generates new input which is then implemented by the designers and presented to the consumers again. This gives rise to an experimental visual dialogue that incorporates customers’ needs and expectations a priori without over-challenging the consumer by expecting him to serve as a “creative designer”. The Pack Lab focuses on projective, associative and creatively playful techniques:

  • Projective and associative exercises on the product category and brand in order to obtain fundamental input on the semiotic quality of individual design elements.
  • Spontaneous, associative consideration of existing pack designs in order to identify fundamental dos and don’ts.
  • Playful, associative Dream Journeys to the sensory experience realms “smell”, “taste”, “touch”, “hear” and “see”
  • A creative, experimental approach to materials, shapes and colours
  • Mind maps and projections on current trends in order to generate more far-reaching input from different contexts.
  • Critical feedback on initial scribbles and pack elements

Pack Screener
Measuring potential and identifying promising routes for ongoing pack development.

Pack Screener
Measuring potential and identifying promising routes for ongoing pack development.

It is precisely the most successful creative processes that entail a problem: variety. A variety of competing ideas and design routes that follow totally different paradigms. From a strategic perspective, all of them are basically feasible – but which of them is the most promising?

Especially when dealing with a broad spectrum of competing concepts and routes, it is impossible to take them all further and implement them all in a final pack concept. Instead, initial designs and renderings have to be used as a basis for selecting the most viable routes at an early stage so as to make the ongoing design development more efficient.

This is where the Pack Screener comes in by accelerating and objectifying the strategic decision-making process. The starting point is a multitude of experimental pack concepts whose potential is to be evaluated. The goal is to assess the inner logic of the individual routes and their design appeal on the basis of initial renderings:

  • Stopping power and uniqueness: to what extent do the routes succeed in generating attention?
  • Likeability of the idea: Does the pack concept go down well? Is it accepted by the consumer?
  • Structural makeup of the pack: clarity, lucidity
  • Appeal of the key visual: How is the key visual perceived? What concrete message is communicated?
  • Communicative performance: To what extent does the pack succeed in conveying the relevant functional and emotional product benefits? How good a fit is it with the brand values?

Besides identifying the most promising routes, the Pack Screener also aims to identify superordinate design clusters and taste patterns and use them for ongoing optimizations: Which overarching logics and semantic content can be derived from the evaluations and preferences and what consequences does this have for the ongoing design process?

Pack Booster
Statistics meet creativity:
finding the right mix from amongst thousands of creative options.

Pack Booster
Statistics meet creativity:
finding the right mix from amongst thousands of creative options.

Four strategically relevant pack shapes. Five visuals. Three basic colours – each of them in two shades. Four closure solutions. Two label concepts. Three claims. And four variants for this and that. All in all, that makes a good 10,000 potential pack designs. You can’t test them all. But if you don’t want to risk adopting an artificial and rationalising approach to pack design, you can’t detach individual design elements from their context and investigate them in isolation either.

This calls for close collaboration between pack designers and researchers. And that is precisely what the Pack Booster facilitates in concentrated form. In terms of research methodology, the Pack Booster is a hybrid: It delivers in-depth qualitative insights on the pack design combined with success projections based on quantitative procedures. This takes place in two steps:

Step 1: Development of sample designs:

  • Statistical and stochastic procedures are used to identify a manageable number of relevant sample designs from amongst the thousands of potential permutations of the individual design elements.
  • Each design element is transported into different contexts and has to prove itself in combination with other design elements.
  • The variants thus identified provide the input for the pack designers, who now have to incorporate the input creatively and come up with an optimal combination of the various design elements.

Step 2: Testing of the pack designs that have been developed as a holistic and harmonious entity consisting of various design elements:

  • Which key design logics and clusters can be identified?
  • How relevant are the individual design parameters? What are the “must-haves”, what are the “nice-to-haves”?
  • What semiotic quality do the individual design elements possess? How can it be used strategically?
  • How can the individual design clusters be enhanced and given an even more distinct profile?

In this way, a differentiated mix of qualitative and quantitative methods is used not just to identify winners and losers but, most importantly of all, to identify design logics and bring them into focus.

Pack Performance Check
A dress rehearsal before the POS:
quantifying the prospects of success – identifying optimization potential

Pack Performance Check
A dress rehearsal before the POS:
quantifying the prospects of success – identifying optimization potential

In the Pack Performance Check, the finished pack concepts are investigated in the form of dummies. Under real conditions, in a realistic shelf setting and with relevant competitors.

The various phases of pack communication are replicated in a shopping simulation and the corresponding strengths and weaknesses of the individual pack designs evaluated – with the optional support of eye or mouse trackings:

  • How high are stopping power and spontaneous purchase impulse?
  • How strong is the consumer’s emotional involvement?
  • How well are the central product characteristics and benefits communicated?
  • How good a fit is the pack with the value world of the product category?
  • How clearly and lucidly is the pack designed?
  • How much is the pack liked with regard to aesthetic aspects?
  • How high are the brand fit and congruence with brand values?
  • Does the pack correspond to the price positioning?

This allows the pack to be put through its paces prior to launch and helps identify room for improvement.

Pack Range Optimizer
Pack design in the range context:
avoiding cannibalisation – optimizing value creation.

Pack Range Optimizer
Pack design in the range context:
avoiding cannibalisation – optimizing value creation.

A pack design geared towards the individual product often faces a dilemma. On the one hand, it wants to create a highly attractive pack design that will stand out in the competitive environment; on the other hand, a highly attractive design can find itself in conflict with the need to ensure clear differentiation within the range so as to avoid cannibalisation and ensure the greatest-possible creation of value.

It is therefore necessary to find a simultaneous, cross-range optimization that brings the individual products together in a way that ensures optimal profits and sales for the entire range.

This is precisely what the Pack Range Optimizer does by:

  • Analyzing the benefit and value of the product features and pack elements.
  • Developing pack alternatives tailored to individual customer segments.
  • Sounding out willingness to spend and trade-offs, both within the range and in the competitive environment.
  • Identifying the maximum profits and sales for an optimal price and feature mix for every product in the range.
  • Considering more than one hundred thousand different feature scenarios to ensure the simultaneous optimization of all the packs involved.

Shopper Experience Check
Pre-tail & re-tail:
shopper insights for more transparency in the purchase process.

Shopper Experience Check
Pre-tail & re-tail:
shopper insights for more transparency in the purchase process.

Observations of behaviour at the Point of Sale show that, even in the case of complex and high-value products, the consumer is able to scan the range of goods available and make his purchase decision within a very short time.

However, the consumer can only reflect on how his decision comes about to a limited extent. Surveys fall short because the consumer often isn’t aware of the drivers that determine his behaviour. In addition, the time and place at which the decision is made are often different to the time and place at which the decision is acted on, because preference-steering predispositions are often formed far in advance. When the consumer is surfing the net. Or talking to colleagues. Or sometimes at the store itself after all. As a result, shopper insights are an important area of focus for marketing interest.

For us, shopper insights don’t start at the POS, they start at home with the consumer: when he writes his shopping list. Or when he’s looking for product information and reports from other buyers online.

At the POS itself – be it offline or online - behavioural observations, interviews and eye-tracking create transparency. What stages does the process go through? What communication tools are used? Which products make it onto the shortlist?

This means breaking the purchase decision down into a multitude of individual dimensions and touchpoints that can potentially influence the decision-making process. Bivariate and multivariate techniques are then used to analyze the influence of the individual dimensions:

  • How relevant are the individual dimensions (such as e.g. product, brand, pack, stickers etc.) for the purchase decision?
  • What determines the details of each individual dimension?
  • How successfully do the individual brands and products work in this respect?

The methodological mix of qualitative accompanied shopping trips and statistical tools for identifying the drivers in the purchase situation combines reliable numbers with qualitative depth of focus, helps pinpoint and understand the relevant touchpoints and their mechanisms and thus develop targeted shopper marketing measures.

Home Placement Check
The crash test: the pack in everyday use.

Home Placement Check
The crash test: the pack in everyday use.

Willingness to repurchase and recommend everyday goods drops rapidly when the pack can’t cope with everyday life. Putting the pack through a Home Placement Check helps avoid this trap. Interviews and diaries accompany the new pack in everyday use. The test phase lasts for several weeks, thus ensuring the pack is put through its paces thoroughly and confronted with the many and varied hardships real life has in store for it:

  • How convenient is the pack under everyday conditions: transportation, storage, keeping, removal, reclosure?
  • Does the pack meet functional design objectives such as e.g. freshness, safety, simplicity?
  • How is the pack experienced? Does it meet emotional positioning objectives such as e.g. well thought-out, sophisticated, clever?
  • Are there any signs of wear and tear or problems with its dimensional and colour stability?
  • How high is the consumer’s willingness to repurchase and recommend the product?