How can you be sure your product packaging is communicating the right message? If you’re like most companies, you may be looking at it from the wrong perspective.  Here, Jamie Capozzi, Founder and President, Theory Associates, and speaker at the 2013 LPIA Conference, December 7–9, explains how to look at your products to see them as your potential customers do.

There are two ways we have found that most companies review and judge product packaging, the right way and the wrong way. The right way would mean developing it with the actual stores in mind. The wrong way is how everyone else on planet does it … in their offices. A typical packaging review is held in a board room with soft lighting while sitting in cozy chairs. They sit back and hold the package comfortably in their hand and calmly take in the entire piece. Most of the time the key decision makers are surrounded by their highly trusted team of advisers who collectively know every nook and cranny of the product from its conception all the way up to this reviewing moment.

The group will hypothesize about the customer’s interpretation of the packaging, but to be honest, this group is way too close to this project to be very objective about how people shop and the factors that play into their decision-making process. This is the wrong way to do it.

So, what is the right way? How can you be sure your packaging design will work in a store if the first time it’s ever seen the inside of one was the day it was placed there? By the time it reaches the store, years of R&D, expensive tooling and manufacturing cost, the expense of sales, PR, and marketing, not to mention how much it costs for fulfillment and shipping, have already been applied.

Now, we realize it’s not very cost-effective to build a retail environment in most offices, and doing field studies with an entire team is hardly efficient. I like to share a method we use to overcome this obstacle and help manage the transition from your office to the retail floor:

The concept is very simple. Your product packaging has to “speak” differently from a few different vantage points in the retail selling process. And by selling process, I simply mean from the moment the customer walks through the door until they walk out with your product.

How does your product packaging communicate from across the showroom floor to what it communicates as part of a wall full of product and finally when it’s in the customer’s eager hand? If you think of your packaging as a communication tool that has different stages of communication, then you’re on the right track. We call this method the “25, 10, 2-ft. rule.” What is your product packaging “saying” at 25 feet, then at 10 feet, and finally at 2 feet to build trust, convey a compelling solution, and ultimately make the sale?

Learn more about Jamie Capozzi presenting Don’t Follow the Herd—Be Heard! at the 2013 LPIA Conference by visiting