Package Testing Market Research in 3 Simple Steps


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Picture this: You’re walking through the shampoo aisle trying to find your tried-and-true product. As you’ve almost approached its shelf, you spot something dressed in your favorite color and a bold font. You pick it up; The material feels substantial and high-quality. It’s a hairspray you don’t need, but you buy it anyway because the copy on the bottle convinced you to.

But it’s not just happenstance. It’s all part of a brilliant research and marketing strategy.

That is the power of packaging. If you want to nail a package-driven sale like this, you’ll need to do some package testing market research for your own products. This testing will help you create the right visual cues and copy that will appeal to your customers. Luckily, we’ve created this simple 3 step guide to crafting a product packaging study.

Creating a product packaging study that will find the winning design

Using a survey for package testing market research is your best option – you’ll test different elements of your designs and gather a large scope of responses, fast and at scale. The process for package design testing is very similar to concept testing; You’ll be following similar steps but presenting different materials to your audience.

Now, let’s dive into the steps and get your packaging shelf-ready!

1. Draft your packaging designs to start testing

First things first, you’ll need to draft up one or multiple package designs. When designing your packaging, don’t forget to keep your customers in mind. If you aren’t sure of your customers’ characteristics and preferences, you may first want to conduct customer segmentation research.

Once your product designs are ready to be tested, you’ll have a better idea of which survey structure to use. Typically, a product packaging study will either follow a monadic survey design or sequential monadic survey design. A monadic survey design divides your respondents into groups and asks each group for feedback on just one randomized package design. Then, the best package is determined by analyzing the collective feedback from each respondent pool.

On the other hand, a sequential monadic survey design shows each respondent the same survey but includes multiple package designs. The winning design is chosen by analyzing the most popular feedback for the designs. Sequential monadic survey designs are typically used either when you have a limited sample size or have many different designs to test.

2. Pick specific elements of your package designs to inspect

Next, you’ll need to decide on specific metrics to measure in your package testing market research. Your study will dive deep into these metrics and collectively lead you to choose the winning design. Here are some examples of metrics to include in your product packaging study:

  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Likelihood to purchase
  • Quality
  • Memorability
  • Relevance to brand
  • Willingness to pay a price premium

These metrics can be implemented using close-ended likert scale questions. For example, if you’d like to measure aesthetic appeal, present your respondents with this question:

How aesthetically appealing do you find this design?

  • Very appealing
  • Somewhat appealing
  • Neither appealing nor unappealing
  • Somewhat unappealing
  • Very unappealing

Find the average answer from this scale across your study to give you a promising idea about how that design is generally perceived by respondents. To further understand your audiences’ perceptions of your packaging designs, follow up this close-ended question with an open-ended one. Ask the respondents why they found the design appealing or why they didn’t. Understanding your audience’s reasoning and why they feel the way they do is important for making the best decisions for your packaging design.

3. Validate the results and use feedback to make package design decisions

Lastly, conclude your package design study with a forced choice exercise to confirm your winning design. Display all the package design options to the audience and ask them to choose their favorite. This will serve as validation for monadic tests, or act as a “tie-breaker” for sequential monadic surveys when there are no statistical differences in the top packages.

Now, you’re ready to make confident and informed package design decisions. Use this valuable respondent feedback to choose a final design or revamp an existing one. You can now feel confident that your decision will satisfy your target audience and bring sales success!

See package testing market research in action: Real life examples

Let’s look at some package testing market research examples from GroupSolver clients themselves.

First up is a packaged food manufacturer that wanted to improve their in-store displays and signage to increase sales. This client had 12 display and signage concepts to test. We used a product package study to identify the design that was most likely to be purchased and was appealing to customers. Using a blend of close-ended likert scale questions and open-ended questions, we found display concepts that highlighted ingredients for simple meal recipes were the most appealing and would drive sales. The forced choice exercise ultimately narrowed the 12 display options down to 1 winner, allowing our client to present a design that helped their brand stand out from competitors in a mass retailer.

Read the entire case study here.

GroupSolver also helped an iconic home products brand use customer feedback to finalize a new product design. Specifically, this client wanted to gauge reactions to their new sandwich bags with popular characters on them from a mass media company. Using open-ended questions, we captured consumers’ initial and unprompted reactions to our client’s new bags. The responses were mostly positive, particularly for parents with young children. We also tested the probability of purchase for the new product designs and found that adding a character to the bag significantly increased the probability of purchase, and some parents were willing to pay about a 15-20% greater price versus the equivalent product without characters.

Read the entire case study here.

Ready to start your package design testing? Request a free demo to see our AI survey platform in action, or contact us!

Rastislav Ivanic
Rasto Ivanic is a co-founder and CEO of GroupSolver® - a market research tech company. GroupSolver has built an intelligent market research platform that helps businesses answer their burning why, how, and what questions. Before GroupSolver, Rasto was a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company and later he led business development at Mendel Biotechnology. Rasto is a trained economist with a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, where he also received his MBA.


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