How to create shelf appeal – An expert’s opinion

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Ann Johnson,
owner of Scoop Wholefoods

You’ve created a new product for the retail marketplace.  You think it’s the best product ever.  But what you now face is the challenge of competing with all the other products in your category and catching both the eye of the consumer and the attention of the retail buyer.  So, bearing this in mind, how can you get your product packaging noticed when it’s on the shelf?  We asked a master amongst food retailers – Ann Johnson, owner of the award-winning Scoop Wholefoods in Shetland – for an insight into what makes great product packaging – both aesthetically and practically.

Here’s what she says:


Consider what’s special about your product, and make sure that your packaging conveys that. Even artisanal products with a ‘home made’ feel need proper consideration when it comes to shelf appeal. Professional packaging can attain that hand-crafted style, while still commanding real shelf presence.


When it comes to a range of products, there needs to be a bold and immediately obvious distinction between varieties.


Retailers appreciate good point of sale. The story sells. More prominent pieces are useful for individual promotions, while small (price-size) shelf labels catch the eye on the shelf.


There is often a focus on secondary information, such as place of origin, flavours and ingredients, all of which are very important, but not as important as what’s actually in the pack. Consider the hierarchy and make sure that ‘what’s in the tin’ is immediately obvious.


Barcodes are essential. Each product should have its own unique barcode – even if it’s a range with the same price. This is important for stock control and allows for any potential price changes.


Every inch of shelf is precious to a retailer – so the product should take up minimum space. Where possible, display vertically rather than horizontally. In addition, small items need to be stackable.


If items have no firm base, they are best supplied in an outer carton with moulded trays.


Key information should not appear at the bottom of the pack, as it may be restricted by shelf fronts (this is particularly relevant to chilled products).


Give consideration to where your product is likely to be displayed and package to suit. Heavy items are likely to find their way to the lower shelves, while the lighter items will be up high.


Items are best labelled on the front, rather than the top, to allow for above eyelevel displays.