It can be hard to step back and really see what customers will think about your branding and package designs. We have years of design training, brand management and personal opinions under our belts, which can both help and hurt us when it comes to being objective. What does the average person (read: outside the industry—all customers are special) think of packaging?

For this week’s edition of packaging spotted in store, I got insight from my friend and company colleague Derrick. He’s not a branding specialist, not a designer, just a purely untainted consumer. Think of it as a free focus group, one given by a health-conscious and environmentally aware white male in his 30s who is 70 percent snark and 100 percent straightforward.

Flip through the above pictures to see which products stood out enough in store for him to begin buying, and read his thoughts behind the purchase.


Did any of that surprise you? And you can’t say he’s wrong—a consumer’s opinions are always right; they are what move your product off the shelf or keep it there, gathering dust and losing dollars for the brand. If customers don’t “get” your packaging, the fault most likely doesn’t fall on them. 

Here are some reminders on what will make your branding, design and product resonate with customers.

  1. Know the target market. The right audience will find your design and branding appealing. Let your true colors shine here; customers choose brands that represent themselves and who they want to be. Have some fun with your copy or be serious with your art—your brand identity and personality will determine the route you take.
  2. Make your package and product functional. Disappointed customers may give you one more chance, but fool them twice and they won’t be back. You can also be sure they will tell their friends—and the rest of the world—about your failures.

I hope the results of our one-man focus group gave you a fresh look at how those outside the branding and packaging world see what we live and breathe daily. Qualitative research can be encouraging, frustrating, or simply amusing: what we obsess over or qualify as good packaging may not be what the customer feels is important or appealing. However, having a clear strategy and vision of who you are as a brand plus understanding your customer can take you far at shelf.