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

Packaged Rice

About Patterns

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 the brands shown above. These products can be found in most retail supermarkets nationally with the exception of the private label Shop Rite brand.

02 - Environment


These images were taken at a Shop-Rite supermarket in metropolitan New York City area. The shelf space dedicated to this category is approximately 35 feet in length. The space to the left is dedicated to the Goya brand's entire portfolio including rice. The space to the right is occupied by taco mixes and Mexican packaged foods.

Response: Shelf presentation for most products deteriorates as the shopping day goes by. Lipton's branded rack system pushes their standing pouches forward as they are removed. Carolina uses branded displays for the narrower packages. Both solutions improve impact at point-of-sale and keep products in order.

03 - Structure


Most of the rice products we found come in small rectangular cartons or simple plastic bags. Traditional cartons offer the most options for billboarding and shelf impact. Resealable bags and unique structures appear more often in specialty variants or exotic flavors sold in smaller quantities for higher prices.

Response: Structure and functionality are important dimensions. The addition of a resealable closure on a plastic bag, for example, can add functional valueand a feeling of higher quality to offerings within the category.

04 - Color


The majority of competing packages are red, orange and other earthy, warm tones. Splashes of deep blue and gold add richness to the packs. Some of the more ethnic offerings use splashes of contrasting color or larger white areas to help their offerings stand apart.

Response: The field is wide open to explore new colors that break tradition and differentiate from the established brands.

05 - Brand Personality


There is a clear effort across competing products to present unique brand personalities. Uncle Ben's, for example, is trustworthy. Minute is quick and easy. Buitoni is gourmet quality. Fantastic is naturally organic.

Response: If considering a new entry or redesign within this category, clearly expressing a unique brand personality is paramount. Consider a personality that speaks about your product's unique history and cultural or ethnic heritage as a wayto stand apart and build appeal for your product.

06 - Architecture


Many competing designs use square panels and borders on the face of their packaging.

Response: Breaking the trend with more unusual shapes or die cuts may help distinguish new brands or give existing brands the kind of separation they need to compete in a crowded space.

07 - Product Presentation


Product presentation is remarkably similar across the category. The scale, position, perspective, and lighting of photography is nearly identical in these examples.

Response: Unique and more dynamic treatment of product photography and food styling is an opportunity to differentiate. Consider a new shooting angle, garnish treatment, or container for a fresh approach to product presentation.

08 - Unique Benefit


A single, unique product benefit is used by competitors as a way to help consumers make purchase decisions. They may add clutter to the package and detract from primary communicators.

Response: Violators should be used only when important to highlight unique product benefits. Be sure your benefit flag's message is unique and in support of overall positioning.

09 - Signs of Quality


Several competing package designs contain small "emblems" that serve to authenticate the quality of the product. These elements are most effective when integrated well in to the brand architecture. The temporary violator on Kraft Minute Rice, for example, seems to add more noise to an already cluttered package.

Response: In this category, the use of a seal, signature or other sign of quality is recommended as a way to promote authenticity. Consider integrating your emblem tightly with brand architecture or communicate your quality proposition through a compelling personal endorsement.

10 - Cultural Affinity


Typography, product names and graphic motifs work together to create associations with exotic destinations or culture - typically Southeast Asia, India, or the Middle East.

Response: A unique sense of place can turn a simple grain into an exotic experience, though it may be difficult to find a niche that is not yet represented.

11 - Preparation Time


Competing brands choose different strategies to communicate preparation time. In the case of Minute Rice, time to prepare is the essence of the brand, while Success Rice displays a prominent "10 Minute" header at the top of the box to communicate the benefit. Others relegate preparation time to the back or side panels of the box.

Response: If preparation time or method is an important differentiator or difficult to understand, it should be communicated clearly on the front panel and not demoted to the back where it may get lost in the crowd. Prevent surprises and make preparation facts easy to find and understand.

12 - Storytelling


Storytelling is commonly used throughout the category, particularly in ethnic brands and specialty flavors. The stories usually include a brief history of the company, its philosophy and foundation, and what makes the product or brand unique in its field.

Response: Storytelling is highly recommended to establish heritage for a new brand or to create appetite appeal for a new flavor. It can help build an emotional bond between consumer and brand and communicate a brand's heritage, identity, and promise in a compelling way.

packaged rice, white rice, brown rice, basmati rise, asian foods, dry goods, Uncle Ben's, Seccess Rice, Minute, Rice-A-Roni, Carolina, Zatarains, Goya, Chef's Originals, Lipton, Lundberg, Butoni, Fantastic, Near East, Marrakesh Express, Casbah, Genuardis, Seeds of Change, structure, store environment, product form, color, architecture, brand personality, product presentation, unique benefit, signs of quality, cultural affinity, preparation time, storytelling

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Copyright © 2004-, R.BIRD & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from R.BIRD & Company, Inc., except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. All trademarks referenced herein remain the property of their respective owners.

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Consultants in Brand & Packaging Design

R.BIRD & Company, Inc. is a New York identity and design consulting firm with 35 years of experience creating brand identity, packaging, corporate identity and internet applications. Its clients are internationally-recognized brands and strategy-oriented organizations.

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