Researcher and consultant, Paco Underhill, has said “Nothing in the store is by accident. Everything is by design.” From the number of aisles, to the arrangement of the items on the shelf  ̶  everything, he says, is a strategic decision. If this is the case, one must consider how the placement of a product in the store, and the functional benefits along with the materials of the packaging, can have a positive impact on sales. 
Retail managers have long understood that there is a science behind a store’s floor plan and how consumers shop. Focus groups, sales data and general psychology have helped managers understand shopper habits, which have led to the formulation of effective floor plans and shelf layouts. Supermarkets nationwide use the same basic layout principles to create a general flow to their stores that keeps customers efficiently moving through the aisles and spending money.
Historically, the dairy case has been placed at the very back corners of the store as a way to pull the shopper as deeply into the store as possible, since dairy products, and milk in particular, tend to have the highest conversion rates for purchases.
We also know that the middle shelf is considered the “bulls-eye zone,” the location that falls perfectly in the shopper’s line of sight. This shelf stocks the leading brands and best sellers. Predictably, some grocery stores will sell this prime stocking location to manufacturers for a fee.
First impressions are critical. Naturally, package color, shape and printing choices help consumers find their favorites quickly on store shelves. The challenge for great packaging design is to engage with the consumer by communicating the product’s emotional and functional benefits together with its core proposition to create a purchase. At its most fundamental, your package design has to provide information, protect contents, help people use the product it contains, overcome objections and close the sale.
But, today’s packaging must go beyond simply the functional and eye-catching. Americans are more environmentally conscious than ever, seeking out ways to make a positive impact on the environment without making huge lifestyle sacrifices. So, choosing to purchase products in sustainable packaging is often seen as an easy way for consumers to feel like they are making a necessary contribution.
This means, the days of “one-time-use” disposable packaging have all but vanished. The sustainability movement has now evolved to the point where consumers no longer see sustainable packaging as an ancillary benefit, but actually expect that brands will adopt greener technologies and become less wasteful. In fact, studies have shown that consumers are favoring brands with a reputation for positive social and environmental practices. Sustainable Brands, a global learning, collaboration and commerce community of forward-thinking businesses, reports that 42 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services provided by these types of companies.
And, a staggering 86 percent of U.S consumers agree that if they knew the use of renewable packaging contributed to reducing carbon emissions, it would impact their choice of packaging. On top of this, 69 percent would be willing to seek out products that come in renewable packages.
But how will consumers know the difference?
A recent survey conducted by Tetra Pak found that consumers perceived the use of paper in cartons to be highly renewable, with more than 50 percent of them believing that bio-based plastics will further improve the environmental performance of carton packaging. However, not all paper is created equal, especially when it comes to its compostability. Coffee cups, or any paper packaging for that matter, with a polyethylene lining may only be compostable in commercial facilities that may not be available in many consumers’ local areas.
Though 37 percent of consumers report regularly seeking out environmental logos on food packaging, expect consumers to push for more accurate and honest labeling of a packaging’s environmental impact in the very near future. This may include disclaimers indicating which types of facilities may or may not be able to process the packaging.
While many assume that there is a significant upfront investment when it comes to manufacturing sustainable dairy packaging, the reality is that it is very much within reach for businesses, including dairy manufacturers, nationwide. And, thanks to the increased customer demand, whatever investment that is required to “go green” is one that is likely to pay off long-term. According to The Guardian, of corporations that are actively managing and planning for climate change, 67 percent have a higher ROI than companies that refuse to disclose emissions and 21 percent report stronger dividends.
There’s much opportunity to be had here, as it’s likely that the demand for greener packaging alternatives will only increase. Savvy marketers should keep their eyes on the dairy aisle in the coming months for more sustainable packaging innovations that are vying to increase market share.