What’s better than having shoppers proclaim their love for your product? A consumer connection like that leads to repeat purchases, positive word-of-mouth and brand loyalty.

Building a strong relationship with shoppers isn’t easy, especially when competition for shelf space in retail stores is so intense, and online shopping offers its own challenges. In a retail environment where nearly everything feels like a commodity thanks to the overabundance of options available to shoppers, brands need to deploy merchandising strategies that create a unique experience around their products.

The right merchandising vehicles and packaging designs enhance the brand experience and help you target the shoppers you want to reach. It’s a little like courtship. So, here’s a “romantic” way to look at how to get people to fall in love with your offering.

Love at first sight

First impressions are everything. How will shoppers be exposed to your merchandise when they initially encounter it in a store setting, see it online, or take it out of the box?

Human relationships usually start with physical attraction. You look across the bar and your eyes are drawn to a certain person. It’s no different in a retail store. Everywhere you look, there are competitors positioning for shoppers’ attention.

Using retail displays can be an excellent way to get noticed on the floor, but recent changes from major retailers like Walmart may mean displays will become more restrictive. This summer, Walmart announced it was streamlining operations around supplier displays, requiring adherence to its standardized “one best way” agenda and working only with a small group of in-store merchandisers.

Therefore, a packaging strategy designed to standout on the shelf, stimulate curiosity, and entice the shopper to make an initial purchase is increasingly important.

Time to try a new ensemble

A new look can go a long way. A 2015 survey by Harris Poll found 81 percent of consumers it surveyed noticed when a brand changed its packaging.

Well-designed packaging is more noticeable, calling to shoppers as they pace the aisles trying to decide what to buy. The right color choice, package design, messaging, and imagery captures attention. Having packaging experts give you valuable advice and direction is like having an older sibling explain the intricacies of dating.

You wouldn’t approach someone in a bar the same way you would at church or at a bookstore. In much the same way, different retail experiences, product verticals, and brands require different merchandising strategies. A strong packaging partner provides you with important insights so you can make the right impression with shoppers and retailers.

In fact, retailers are the ones who ultimately decide whether shoppers even get the chance to fall in love with what your brand offers. When retailers feel your packaging will help move product off the shelf, your merchandise will be more likely to win a spot on the shelf and keep it. It’s a bit like meeting the parents. If you don’t win the approval of “Mom and Dad,” your relationship will never be more than a fling.

While good looks help, if you discover you have nothing in common with that person across the bar, you’ll be less likely to pursue a relationship because you know it’s not going to work out. Part of a shopper’s decision-making process involves asking the question, “Do people like me purchase things like this?”

Bringing back memories

Packaging that offers added-value convenience shows you understand the shopper’s daily challenges and can make life a little easier. The Harris Poll on packaging found many consumers are willing to pay more for packages that are easier to open, store, or carry.

Nostalgia is a very influential emotion. How can your packaging bring up positive memories with shoppers? Can you make them feel like a kid again, remind them of spending the holidays with their grandparents, or take them back to their college days? Nostalgia marketing seems to work particularly well with Millennials, now the largest consumer group in the U.S.

Finding common ground

Finding common ground can also include communicating shared values. Are natural or organic ingredients important to your ideal shopper? What about sustainability? Nielsen found 66 percent of global consumers are willing to pay a premium price for products from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. The marketing messages you print on your packaging, and the materials you choose, say something about your brand values.

Online dating and online shopping have a lot in common. In some ways, they’ve made it easier for single people to meet and brands to connect with consumers. Yet, it’s also created some complications.

Talk to anyone who’s tried online dating, and they’ll express their frustration with seeing one thing on a date’s profile and finding another when they meet in person. Online shoppers have similar experiences with e-commerce packaging.

You need a different strategy for e-commerce than you do for traditional retail settings. Brands should certainly consider the online shopping experience and use packaging that stands out on a category page full of products in the same way as on a crowded shelf.

However, what happens after they click add-to-cart and check out matters, too. That’s why e-commerce giant Amazon is encouraging what’s been dubbed “frustration free packaging.”

Online shoppers don’t want to open a cardboard box that’s far too large for the merchandise only to be annoyed by more packaging that’s difficult to open or which failed to protect the merchandise during shipping or the e-commerce supply chain. Is your brand following best practices for e-commerce packaging?

Creating a love that lasts

At some point in the relationship, it becomes exclusive. Whether it’s conscious or unspoken, a decision is made not to see other people, and you remain loyal to the one you love. CPG brands can use retail displays and packaging to keep shoppers coming back and dissuade them from straying to competitors.

Part of this challenge involves keeping your brand top of mind. Connecting your merchandising strategy to your paid advertising closes the loop and reinforces your marketing messages. Good advertising generates an emotion in the audience. But, in most cases, they won’t immediately purchase the product.

A cohesive strategy helps shoppers remember what they saw or heard in your ads and on your packaging. Such a strategy causes them to relive the emotions created through your campaigns. That means you’ll capitalize on the investment your brand makes in paid promotions.

What you don’t want is your relationship with shoppers growing stale. Couples who’ve been together for a long time are always looking for ways to keep things interesting. You can do the same with retail merchandising solutions. Find the right balance between consistency and fresh ideas so that shoppers stay interested while you avoid the possibility of diluting your brand at the same time.

Emotions are powerful

Humans are emotional beings who like to think we are rational. However, the truth is, we only use logic to justify our emotional purchasing decisions.

You need to win hearts in order to win minds. That requires developing a merchandising strategy that produces a unique experience in the store and after the package comes home. Displays and packaging design are effective ways to show some love for both the retailer and the shopper. You’ll help shoppers find products they want and help retailers boost sales. It’s a winning love triangle for everyone involved.