Dynamic Retail Marketing: The Whole Package

If you’re an adult brand in a heavily saturated and competitive marketplace, what’s more important than making your products stand out from the rest?


In addition to looking good, strong product packaging is versatile. Many brands are providing multiple display options with their boxes. We now see brands that have product with hang tags for slat walls, but that can also easily stand upright for shelving units. -Brian Sofer

As the cliché goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Humans are a visual species. We eat with our eyes, we find our mates with our eyes and we absolutely shop with our eyes. In most cases, the first point of contact the manufacturer makes with the customer is through its packaging. Like a potential love interest you meet from across a crowded room, the attraction needs to be immediate, unmistakable and engaging. But unlike a Tinder hook-up, strong packaging needs to accurately project and communicate everything about itself the moment a product and customer’s eyes meet.

There’s a reason smart retail buyers take such a long, hard look at product packaging – it can often make or break the product. Most manufacturers are well aware of the importance of packaging and have been rapidly improving the look of pleasure products for years now. Whether it’s a shift away from female nudity or taking advantage of new, cutting-edge, box technology – manufacturers have undeniably stepped up their game. Of course, they’re not doing this for laughs, it’s to drive sales, and retailers can and should take advantage of effective packaging in order to boost store sales as well.

As mentioned, other than properly housing product, packaging’s top priority is to lure potential customers. To do that it must distinguish itself from the competition using a number of different methods. It could be using bold and dynamic colors to ensure the product screams from the wall or maybe it’s putting striking, fashion photography on the box. It could simply just be asserting itself by using a more mainstream, high-end look as if to shout to the consumer, “Hey! Check me out, I’m a LUXURY product!” Whatever tactic is used, retailers should take their cues from the manufacturer and position well-packaged products for maximum sales impact. For example, that may mean relocating some lines to properly show off the brand you’re trying to push. It could also involve creating a display for the line that will further accentuate the packaging. Most dramatically, it could be an end to bringing in poorly packaged brands all together. The point being, if you’ve got product with badass packaging, show it off and the let the packaging do its job.

In addition to looking good, strong product packaging is versatile. Many brands are providing multiple display options with their boxes. We now see brands that have product with hang tags for slat walls, but that can also easily stand upright for shelving units. There’s clever packaging that allows the product box to also serve as a stand for the item, which makes for easy access and customer sampling. Some of the slicker brands also have modular packaging and are maintaining a uniform size across the line -- making it supremely easy to replace a slow item in a planogram without having to rearrange anything else. Manufacturers are also much more in tune with how precious a commodity in-store real estate has become and are continually making improvements in streamlining packages and consolidating planograms in order to consume less wall space. Certainly these are all things to consider when merchandizing or adding new product to your store.

If the packaging has done the first part of its job well, a customer is now looking, holding and reading the product box. Can the packaging close the sale? Of course it can! Especially if that packaging contains correct spelling, grammar, punctuation and uses the language typically spoken in the region (you’d be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t). Beyond the basics, it should tell a customer everything they need to know quickly and accurately. We’ve already got enough ‘what the hell is this?’ strikes against us in the pleasure products world, so it’s best to keep it simple. A customer should never have to guess what he or she is using on their body and why. Packaging should also contain all the product specs including materials, dimensions, battery requirements, location of origin -- as much relevant information as possible. Some brands have put differentiators on its packaging to indicate the product class. You may see a consistent color theme used in brands to call out materials or gender. Again, use that to help flesh out the different genres, niches and collections on display in your store.

If I was a retailer, I’d be conscious of the fact that information these days is the name of the game. If you’re displaying product with packaging that doesn’t adequately communicate all the necessary information about the product a customer needs, you’re simply sending potential business to the web so they can find that information and make that purchase elsewhere.

Whether or not people should or shouldn’t judge a book by a cover doesn’t matter - that’s certainly the way most of us shop, so keep packaging in mind next time you’re merchandizing or purchasing product for your store.

Brian Sofer currently serves as marketing ninja at Eldorado Trading Company. Sofer joined the Eldorado team in 2010. Brian is a creative, results-oriented marketing professional with extensive experience across his career utilizing digital media.