Competition in the explosive food supplement category is already quite difficult. Without a convincing brand strategy that appeals to customers through your packaging, you fight with both hands tied behind your back.
Powders, tablets, gels: any product you can make can be made and sold at a lower cost by a competing brand or a private brand. Search for “protein powder” on Amazon and you will find over 5,000 results. There is so much turmoil in this space that it is difficult for an individual brand to stand out.
A “Capital-B” brand can help you compete online and on the shelves in the world of dietary supplements and natural products. And the way you tell your story, within the limits and rules that govern packaging in this category, can elevate you above the commodity to the status of “beloved and dominant.”
The brand is more than an ingredient or a form
Many marketers in this space confuse product and brand. But a brand is much more than the product: ingredients, health benefits or food trends. Your brand is not a powder or a pill. On the contrary, your brand is: your promise and the way you keep it.
So many brands in this category rely on flavors (tastes like a milkshake!), Attributes (grass-fed collagen!) And ingredients (live probiotics!). But it is easy for leaner and hungrier companies to present these same types of products. Soon everyone starts to compete on price, retailers abandon the poor results and consumers are not loyal to any particular brand.
When your brand represents something – it empowers the consumer or changes the world or does harm – it becomes proof against competitors and the future. It can withstand changing consumer whims or food trends, because people who buy the brand love it and stay loyal no matter what. A strategic base allows the brand to innovate without risk, to gain the upper hand in commercial relations and to attract an audience that feels that the brand belongs to it (and vice versa).
When your brand story is your main competitive advantage, it is essential to build on that story where your customers are most likely to see it: on your packaging.
Tell your story on the packaging
The retail shelf – both digital and physical – is probably the first (perhaps the only) place where a buyer will meet your brand. In an overcrowded environment where your labels have to work very hard to communicate a litany of information, knowing what is important to consumers – and what can be tied to the back panel – can give you an edge that creates white space in your brand block.
Brand blocking is essential in a category populated with packaging (bottles or boxes) of uniform shape and size. When your product lives on a shelf that you do not control in an environment that you do not control, a unified collection of products grouped together on the shelf creates a display board for the brand that allows people to easily navigate the product offering.
Brand blocking occurs at the external level of the “packaging rule 30-10-3”, according to which a consumer product packaging has three key moments to engage a consumer, whether in store or online . At 30 feet, he must define the category; at 10 feet, it must make known the name of the brand and the history; and at 3 feet, he can whisper in the consumer’s ear.
In the category of natural and nutritional supplements, there is a ton of information required on the packaging – so rule 30-10-3 establishes an accessible hierarchy. Remember that the role of brand blocking is to capture the buyer’s attention in the context of the category, not to identify their specific need / desire / flavor / ingredient.
Living Intentions is an example of a line of natural products that very effectively uses the 30-10-3 rule to help consumers understand that activated foods (made from raw and sprouted ingredients) and superfoods help people live. a more dynamic and healthier life. The packaging of the brand balances the most convincing points on the main display panel and relegates everything that requires an explanation on the back of the package. The design uses simple icons to communicate complex concepts like bioavailability, living enzymes, minimal processing.
Photo provided by Retail Voodoo
Design for online
For online brands like You Are The Anser!, The packaging should look great in the digital realm, against the white background of an Amazon search page, on the brand’s website, and on Instagram. While you are the Anser! has its own direct consumer platform where storytelling prevails, the brand effectively disrupts the Amazon shelf with design cues that might make them feel more comfortable in a living room. It does two things quickly: it invites inspection and demystifies the features and benefits by making them simple, consistent, and iconic.
Wedderspoon is another wellness brand that plays perfectly online. Manuka’s authentic raw honey products look like gourmet products, while many of the brand’s competitors are more like vitamin supplement products. The brand has created an exclusive “KFactor” label that specifies the sourcing of the product, a label that goes beyond industry standards for origin and purity. This marker stands out in a sea of competing products in an online search for “Manuka honey”. Finer details move from the main display panel to other areas (cover, back and sides) so as not to break a golden rule in CPG: the design informs the price.
Photo provided by Retail Voodoo
In ecommerce, the design language is more important than the size of your logo, because people search by category (for example, collagen peptide, ashwagandha, or protein bar) and filter by brand. And unless your brand has already made a convincing promise to them, it will likely buy price and / or user reviews.
Just be different enough
As marketers, we have done a great job of educating customers about what a product category should look like. Nutritional supplements for women have pink or purple graphics, perhaps a flower or white background to signal purity. Protein powders for men are available in black or dark gray jars with gym-style lettering. Children’s gummy vitamins are packed in whimsical and bright colors.
Category standards like these help buyers narrow their choices, but also create a sea of similarity on the shelf and online. So there is a balance here, between similar and standout. It is important to correspond to the contemporary visual lexicon of the category of nutritional products – this level of 30 feet –and at the same time move to the foreground. This is how brands disrupt the retail business.
A full category audit can provide tangible evidence of where your brand lives in space. When looking for this balance, imagine a grid with axes labeled “Good” and “Different”. Look for that great place where you are just different enough from all the other brands.
As more and more consumers are looking for products that can help them lead healthy lives, nutrition and wellness brands will inevitably continue to flood the market. Most of these won’t really be brands, just products with features and benefits. A compelling brand story, told strategically on packaging that plays in digital and real world spaces, will separate the winners from the commodities.
David Lemley, author of the new book, Beloved & Dominant Brands, has played a creative and strategic role in building some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Starbucks, REI, Pampers, Sahale Snacks, Kar’s and Nintendo. As the founder and chief strategist of Seattle-based Retail Voodoo, David’s mission is to help brands better for you win the hearts, minds and souls of customers. It partners with marketers, investors and owner-founders to unleash the power of their brand promise to engage consumers, drive innovation, identify opportunities and drive exponential growth . David has spoken and written for: National Retail Federation, BevNet, BrandPackaging, Adweek and Nutritional Outlook, to name a few. Contact him: [email protected]