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Consumer Goods|FMCG|Market Opportunities and Innovation|United Kingdom|English

Gaining knowledge to make the right packaging decisions


Apparently it was either Sir Francis Bacon or Thomas Hobbes – massive intellects of whom many of us have heard but few know very much – who first said ‘Knowledge is Power’.

But, no matter which it was, he was certainly right when it comes to bathroom tissue.

The best performer

When in 2015 leading global hygiene company SCA wished to relaunch its premium Cushelle product, it was keen to gain knowledge and insight into which of four possible new packaging designs would perform best in appealing to families.

According to Cushelle’s Brand Manager Sian Dixon, ‘We set out to research which design would utilise our strong brand assets while increasing purchase intent and stand-out on shelf’.

Having this knowledge would then enable the company to determine the precise balance of brand assets to use in its packaging design, including its established and iconic koala character as well as its new claim that it is ‘made differently with Micro Air Pockets’.

The virtual shopping solution

“In order to determine which new design we should launch with, we turned to GfK for their advice,” says Sian.

We recommended a pack test using our virtual shopping methodology to establish how consumers would respond to each of the new designs and the existing packaging. This involved using a virtual representation of a typical in-store bathroom tissue section, including all the major competing brands, to assess how Cushelle performed in increasing findability and overall attitudes to each design and driving sales. Using the solution, participants can zoom in on the shelf and even ‘pick up’ a product to take a closer look, just like a shopper.

We showed each variant in this way to more than 300 people, with each person seeing only one design. We then interviewed all participants – over 2,000 in total. As Sian puts it, ‘It was important to ensure we were changing the right elements on pack and that any new design was moving key metrics in the right direction.’

Clarifying the picture

‘We were on an extremely tight deadline due to our internal artwork process’ she continues. ‘GfK were briefed and were able to turn around results in six weeks, which included the Christmas break.’

However, despite the lack of available time, a very clear picture emerged detailing the approach that SCA should take.

The research found that one of the new designs delivered best on being clear and informative, while another was stronger in terms of the koala character and communicating perceptions of softness. It also came through very strongly that the positioning on the pack of the ‘Micro Air Pockets’ message was critical for visibility.

Balance for the best results

Overall, the research outcomes indicated that creating a hybrid of two of the new designs would achieve the desired results by incorporating the strongest-performing elements. This meant balancing the emotional, ‘cuddly’ appeal of the koala character with the rational persuasion of the Micro Air Pockets message. This combination of warmth and visibility would, the results indicated, drive the outcomes SCA required.

The final design used in the product relaunch in May was based on this recommendation. At GfK, we were naturally delighted to be able to help SCA gain the knowledge and insight it required to make the most effective packaging decision. It proved the value of our virtual retail environment, SimStore, which enables us to experiment in a safe, realistic and flexible environment with fast and cost-effective results. Contact us to find out more about this virtual shopping methodology.