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Patterns - a series of professional observations about package design practices within specific product categories


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Patterns is a series of professional observations about package design practices within specific product categories - brought to you by the design team at R.BIRD.

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Featured in this report:

01 - Overview


Our observations include some of the brands and categories shown above.

02 - Environment


The images above were taken at supermarkets in the New York metropolitan area. Typically, juices are sold either in the beverages aisle with the sodas and teas or in the refrigerated dairy section (fresh juices).

03 - Juice Is: ?


Juice is sold under many names: Juice Drink, Juice Drink Blend, 100% Juice, etc. Combine that with the many ways in which juice is produced: Fresh Squeezed, From Concentrate, Not From Concentrate, Pasteurized, etc., and suddenly the consumer may be wondering, "what, exactly, is juice?"

Response: Terms like "100% Juice" or "not from concentrate" are signs of quality and health. Those who can make such claims, will do well to make them clearly visible. Those who can't, would do better by focusing on the flavor components of their product.

04 - Juice Is: Healthy


Juice marketers try hard to promote their products as healthy. Specialty organics such as bionaturae (2) use a more natural color palette and classic, simple typefaces to project a natural, organic identity. Others use radiant sunbursts, fresh green leaves, heart motifs, and banners indicating the nutritional benefits to underscore the healthy aspect of their products.

Response: It's not just bullet points and facts that convince a health-conscious buyer. Intangible and emotional cues can project a "healthy" or "natural" message on multiple levels.

05 - Juice Is: Fun


Cartoon graphics, vivid colors, bursts, swirls, and tie-ins with familiar characters are common in the category.

Response: Appealing to children with "kid-friendly" graphics is nothing new. It's important to remember that the parent is the one buying the product in the end. Qualifiers such as "100% juice," vitamin benefits, and healthly-looking graphic elements can help temper a sugar-driven appeal to children and reassure a parent's desire to put something healthy on the table.

06 - Juice Is: Sunshine


The sun features prominently in the juice category. Whether it's a part of the brand mark, a supporting element, or an atmospheric presence on package, the sun livens up the juice aisle.

Response: Sunshine on a package equates to ripeness in a fruit juice. It's hard to imagine overdoing it with sunshine here. The challenge will be doing it in a new and compelling way.

07 - Juice Is: Colorful


The juice category is one of the most colorful categories in the supermarket. Bright, vivid colors, luscious fruits, and whacky graphics assault the fruit-happy buyer.

Response: Color is a powerful tool in communicating flavor and appetite appeal. It's an essential component of fruit juice, too. Bright, luscious color equates to luscious, ripe fruit flavor. Too far towards the saccharin, however, can also impart a sugary sweet connotation that's more in tune with sodas and other sugar-centric beverages.

08 - Juice Is: Flavorful


Juice packaging works hard to communicate the flavor of the product. A drip-ping wet glass of juice, crashing waves, rushing water, glistening oranges, shimmering leaves and jetting, zany typography animate the aisle.

Response: Juice flavors are often extreme: extremely sweet, sour, tangy, zesty, refreshing, and so on. It not only takes extreme graphics to communicate such exaggerated flavors; it also takes extreme graphics to compete with the rest of the category. It's a kind of high-key, color-driven, graphic arms race for the most flavorful packaging. Is there a point at which a more austere approach to packaging ironically gets the most attention?

09 - Juice Is: All About the Fruit


Fruit is a big deal with juices - after all, the product is made from (or made to taste like) the real thing that we see, smell, and touch in the fresh fruit aisle. POM Wonderful's entire brand identity is based on the distinctive, bulbous shape of a pomegranate. Tropicana depicts an orange with a straw sticking out of it, implying that the product within is as close to the source as you can possibly get. Others feature high quality, enhanced photographs or rich illustrations of the fruit their juices are made from.

Response: No amount of words can replace a high quality image or illustration when it comes to communicating the flavor, freshness, and vitality of fruit juice. Go for the highest quality illustration or product photography you can get. The bar is already pretty high.

10 - Unique Structure


Embossed design elements and flowing curves help identify the product and provide added gripping surface. Tall, elegant glass lends a sophisticated, premium feel.

Simple changes to structure can go a long way toward lifting the image of a brand from the generic to the special. Consider forms which not only elevate the brand image, but add functional benefits as well. After all, the customer's experience handling the product is an essential part of their understanding of the brand as a whole.

Quick test for brand equity in a structure:
If you painted the product gray, would the brand persist? In other words, can buyers recognize the product by shape alone, without any graphics at all?

11 - Portability


A number of juices are sold in individual serving size bags, tetrapaks, or bottles that fit perfectly into a lunch bag or knapsack. Many come "straw ready" with a straw fixed to the outside of the package for a little added convenience.

The CapriSun drink pouch remains a lasting innovation in portable juice structures.

Some questions to consider:
1) Can the package serve a purpose after consumption?
2) Can the package work to cool the product outside of the refrigerator?

12 - Banners, Flags, and Signs of Quality


Health benefits, vitamin contents, new formulas, other claims and differentiators are common among juices. Nearly every juice in the category includes one or more banners, flags, or callout graphics on the package.

People want to know what sets a product apart from the field. Best practices call for high quality flags and banners that attract the attention they deserve without detracting from the overall presence of the brand.


On July 22 John said...

Monavie in Australia you pay $51 for 1 750ml bottle of juice, give me a BREAK!!!

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