Packaging to Enhance the Customer Experience: 4 Trends from the 2014 NRHA Awards

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May 16 2014, Posted by Kristin Harripaul

Effective packaging is critical to manufacturers trying to stand out from the competition and make one last appeal before the consumer makes their final buying decision in the store. That’s why the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) holds an annual awards competition to recognize good design in packaging and merchandising.

Allison DeWitt, CMP, NRHA’s Director of Member Services, hosted the awards ceremony during the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas last week. Allison cited several trends emerging in packaging and merchandising in hardware retailing, all focused on improving the in-store customer experience. Here are a few:

  1. Lifestyle-Focused Imagery: Manufacturers are using more lifestyle imagery to capture attention and not merely focusing on features and benefits of the product.
  2. Value-Added Design: There is a growing focus on packaging to speak to a customer’s values and add value to their life by way of functionality or education. For example, is it recyclable? Does it create some form of delight or take them somewhere unexpected? At a basic level, is it easy to open?
  3. Multilingual Appeals: Packaging is more and more becoming multilingual as an attempt to make a personal connection and as a reflection of the growing diversity of our society.
  4. Simplified Decision-Making: To become a more trusted resource, manufacturers are utilizing packaging to help facilitate an easier customer decision-making process.

Manufacturers are increasingly looking at packaging as an important element of the customer experience to speak to customer needs and expectations, help them more easily navigate their buying decisions and improve their overall shopping experience. This progression isn’t at all surprising. After all, packaging is a customer’s first point of physical interaction with a product and a brand’s last appeal before a customer purchase. Not to mention, packaging is the one area where a brand has the most control of how their product is marketed in-store.

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