How to Translate Brand Strategy Outcomes Into Shelf Science

02.19.19 / Kat Simpson

In today’s busy world with packed schedules and cluttered retail environments, it is rare that a consumer will stop to pick up a product by a brand they’ve never heard of before or one that’s not already on their grocery list. But how can your brand’s presence on shelf change that?

Given that shopping is a necessity, consumers are always making split second decisions when it comes to food and beverage product decisions. For this reason, your package design is your lead sales person. Packages are working hard in the field every single day to make your brand well-known and profitable. Use this powerful opportunity to both shout on shelf and tell your story in a more conversational tone.

At Retail Voodoo we are always asking ourselves, “Does this package design concept adhere to the 30-10-3 rule?” These are the three stages we define as singular moments a package has to engage a consumer:

  • At 30 feet you need to define the category.
  • At 10 feet you need to make your brand name and story known.
  • At 3 feet you have the opportunity to whisper in the consumer’s ear.

This white paper demonstrates how engaging with consumers on each of these levels is key to establishing their trial purchase.

Once consumers have the chance to actually try the product, all of these pieces should come together for them and ignite the consumer’s individual desire to share your product and brand with other people in their circle. Learning how to achieve engagement and what is important for your package to achieve at each stage will help your package fly off the shelves or into digital carts time and time again.

What Your Packaging Should do at 30 Feet

This is the initial opportunity for your package to attract attention and stop consumers in their tracks. This is a critical stage because here your package has the shortest amount of time to make the most impact.

There are four ways to successfully halt traffic at 30 feet:

Logo or Wordmark

Whether you have a brand mark that everyone knows implicitly (i.e., Nike swoosh or the Apple logo) or you are wanting to make your brand more well-known in the category, using the brand’s logo as the attention-capturing element is always a great choice. This allows your package to define itself as a leader in your category at an instinctual level. A simple, clean logo that is staged properly checks the trustworthiness box for most consumers. When shopping, people will think, “That brand looks confident in who they are and expects people to remember their name.”


Oftentimes, powerful and eye-catching photography is a great way to stand out in a shelf of many colors and lots of typography. If it makes sense for your product, queuing appetite appeal can be very successful when shoppers have a split second to make a food choice (especially for center aisle purchases like snacks).

In the case of Sahale Snack's packaging, we created a gorgeous cluster of nuts and fruit that is mouth watering – and visible across the store. When shopping, a consumer will think, “That product must taste absolutely amazing.”

Distinctive Product or Flavor

Another effective way to use your brand to define a retail category is to make the name of the product or unique flavor be the loudest element on pack. This is especially true if you are the first to market on an innovative product or flavor in your category. Take the opportunity to make that known.

Wedderspoon is an example of a brand whose innovative product needed to be displayed. They want to bring Manuka Honey to the masses. So when creating concepts for their new label design, we knew that it would be important to let the words “Manuka Honey” sing louder than their brand name.

An example of a success story in the flavor department would be Dry Soda Company. One of the main factors that set this brand apart from the rest of the crowd in the quickly expanding  sparkling beverage refrigerator are their foodie flavors. By having stylized illustrations of those ingredients be one of the most visible elements on the bottles, consumers can instantly see from afar that their flavors are more than just the typical lemon lime. When shopping, a consumer will think, “That is a product or flavor I have never seen before, and I am intrigued enough to try it.”

Product Benefit

If your product provides a critical benefit to your target audience that can set you apart from your competitors, shout it from the rooftop! A perfect example of a brand successfully doing this is Halo Top ice cream. Hale Top has won lots of new and repeat fans by displaying the low-calorie count large and in charge on their pints. This works because they targeted a consumer who wants to eat an entire pint without ruining their diet. At Retail Voodoo, we call this managing indulgence. When shopping, a consumer will think, “That product delivers on a functional benefit I am incorporating in my diet or lifestyle and is worth my money."

How to Position Your Product at 10 Feet

Now that the consumer has spotted your package from across the aisle because you helped them navigate the category at 30 feet, you need to keep their attention or risk losing them to your shiny shelf neighbor.

Shout Your Clear Points of Difference

At 10 feet you have a high-level opportunity to talk to your consumer about who you are and why they should believe in your offering. This second level of messaging at 10 feet is where your package has a bit more time to speak, but don’t get crazy and try to say everything about your brand and product on the front of pack. An example of an ideal amount of content on the front of pack would be Loma Linda. To contrast that, brands like Dr. Bronner's, while utilitarian in their approach, make the consumer read way too much to reach the information they need. When shopping, a consumer will think, "This brand looks different and may be a better choice than my current brand."

Emphasize Readability

At Retail Voodoo we frequently say that your logo and product name need to be completely legible by middle-aged eyes and quickly understood by a fifth grader. This is where you use size, scale, and depth of field to create a logical reading hierarchy for your consumer. You will want to educate them on the other items that were not your 30-foot hero item. For example, if your logo was achieving shelf shout at 30 feet, at 10 feet you will want to talk about product, flavor, taste, and benefit. When shopping, a consumer will think, "This brand feels transparent and trustworthy because they are communicating clearly."

Your Final Chance to Spur Purchase: Packaging at 3 Feet

The consumer is holding your package in their hand and hopefully is moments away from putting it in their cart. How do you entice them to purchase? Understanding that a consumer has a set of unspoken communication needs from your brand is the first step.

Invite Them Into Your World

By picking up your package, they have given you have permission to connect with them on a deeper level. Sometimes this leads to making them laugh through clever illustrations or copywriting, or it could lead to helping them understand the science behind your product. This should be an educational moment woven with your brand’s tone and voice. Yakima Chief Hops for example utilized their back of pack to tell a deeper brand story and allow consumers into their hop fields through storytelling. The consumer will think, "This brand really understands my life and values."

Get Them to Flip It

Unless the consumer is already a power user of your offering, they will read the back of pack before purchase. Ultimately, this is where your brand’s message and voice can truly come to life by living harmoniously with whatever promises your ingredients are making about your product. At this stage the consumer will look at the nutrition facts panel and ingredient deck. The consumer will think, "Not only does this product map to the types of foods I am looking to consume, but their ethos are in line with mine as well."

Leverage Communication Hierarchy

Anything that exists at the 3-foot rule should be subordinate to the items that drive the 30- foot and 10-foot rules. But this doesn’t mean that all elements are  equal. Your brand’s tone and voice, product offering, and consumer need state will inform decision-making. Knowing what your consumer is most interested in and designing a purposeful user journey that grabs their attention is as important at 3 feet as it would be at 30 feet. Take the back-of-pack design for Living Intentions as an example. We leveraged both copy and an infographic to help the consumer feel comfortable with what the claim "Activated" meant. Making sure that the front-of-pack claims were explained with clarity took precedence over emotional storytelling. The consumer will think, "I now fully trust this brand to deliver on their promises."

Now that you understand the importance and purpose of all three stages, know that what you choose to do here visually all depends on what your brand feels is most important for the consumer in driving purchase intent. In determining what your brand’s 30-, 10-, and 3-feet elements should be, we find it helpful to make a hierarchical list of what you need consumers to know in order from most to least important before you ever start designing. This provides an easy way to map back to intentions when you take pen to paper to design the pack.

Each brand has its own strategy and unique selling proposition, but it is how and in what order you portray those on pack that can help great products reach multiple digit growth in sales.

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