In the world of sports, you commonly will hear coaches, scouts and even media analysts discuss whether a player passes the eye test. Although not the same as what you see on the field, consumer packaged goods (CPG) deal with their own eye test challenges on retail shelves. And because of SKU proliferation, packaging has taken on another level of importance.

In Beverage Industry’s May issue, Stuart Leslie, president of 4sight Inc., New York, discussed how a package’s form can even take on its own language. “With a proliferation of new brands and products, the beverage category has become even more competitive,” Leslie said. “Information overload in the retail environment (in the aisle or behind the cooler door) makes it even harder for consumers to really read or understand text or graphic promises. Therefore, the design of the packaging structure becomes the first line of communication. It speaks to the consumer in a language that is intuitively and emotionally understood.”

This form of communication allows manufacturers to find a way to convey the product’s purpose, benefits and, in some cases, character. Without careful execution, those messages might not be made as clear across the crowded CPG shelves.

In addition to structure, experts also mentioned the importance of color to help a package stand out on the shelf. “The quickest way to differentiate from the competition is with the use of color,” said Lyle Zimmerman, president of Chicago-based Alchemy Ltd., in Beverage Industry’s May issue. “If you have the ability to incorporate color that is unique to your category, then your brand will immediately stand out.”

Companies typically use colors through different forms of inks or coatings as well as shrink-wrap over the primary package. For example, in the beverage space, the increasing usage of thermochromic inks has allowed brand owners to offer a temperature-induced color-changing option that physically shows when the package has reached its peak temperature level for refreshment.

Whether it’s primary packaging materials, inks and coatings, or shrink-wrap capabilities, CPG manufacturers have a number of options from which to choose to help their products stand out.

To see what options are out there to help support your packaging needs, check out the exhibitors list for Pack Expo International, taking place Nov. 2-5 in Chicago.