To effectively leverage color block merchandising, you need to get in the store and see what’s already on the shelf. Published on ECRM Marketgate Blog 3/10/2019
Unless you are looking only to win design awards, the true test of the effectiveness of your packaging design is how it makes the product jump out on the shelf and – ultimately – into the consumer’s shopping cart. Yet many packaging designers fail to take this fact into consideration, and don’t test their designs on an actual store shelf next to competing products. After all, your product will not be sitting alone on the shelf as it does on your computer screen. You need to see what how it looks in a real retail environment to truly judge the effectiveness of the design.
By evaluating the colors and designs of products that will sit alongside yours on the shelf, you can optimize your color blocking to really stand out among them.
Color block merchandising is the retail sales strategy of organizing products by color to attract the eye of browsing shoppers. It’s a subliminal technique that the average consumer doesn’t notice, but that works in creating an attractive experience that leads them to take action and buy multiple flavors or items.
Retailers use it when organizing high sales velocity locations like end-caps and front of store displays to sell products. But brands can also design with blocks of color within their product line to make their entire line stand out next to the competition.
Want to maximize the chance your product is picked up and put into a shopping cart?
1. Use complementary colors
The human eye is naturally attracted to rich complementary and contrasting colors, and creating color cohesion across your product line will help the entire line stand out.
According to Wikipedia, complementary colors “are pairs of colors which, when combined or mixed, cancel each other out (lose hue) by producing a grayscale color like white or black. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those two colors. Complementary colors may also be called ‘opposite colors.’”
As a brand owner or a packaging designer utilizing color blocking means looking at the color wheel and picking colors on the opposing end within your color family.
Here is an example of COMPLEMENTARY COLORS in the basic RGB family we’re all familiar with.
Here is an example of COMPLEMENTARY COLORS applied to Pearl Resourcing’s color pallet:
2. Design With Merchandising In Mind
As a brand owner, it’s crucial to think about how your product lime will work and look in stores before designing individual SKU packaging. Using this strategy will benefit you in two ways:
A) For everyday shoppers, when you design the product line with complementary colors, you maximize the chance the eye on the shelf in a grocery store.
B) For retailers, they will be more likely to feature and highlight your entire product line in stores in color block merchandising on an end-cap or display where sales velocity is on average higher if you create products that will work well this way. Design in a way that will help your retailer create a beautiful eye catching in store experience that helps them converts to sales.
Examples of color block merchandising and products that worked well Here are some examples of beautiful brands that thought of this concept while still at the drawing board and that works wonderfully when on the retail shelf. EXAMPLE 1 – Up Close and Personal The Perfect Bite Co frozen appetizer line is perfect for at gourmet home entertaining without hiring a caterer, available in your local grocery store. Their colors grab attention within must grab attention in the frozen food isle - complementary colors and a white plate create cohesion and pop.
Solluna Skin Solutions are organic beauty products by health influencer and NY Times Best Selling Author Kimberly Snyder. Check out the beautiful sunny interplay of their colors that work wonderfully on shelf AND on their website: http://mysolluna.com
Albanese Chocolate Boxes– Best known for their wildly famous delicious gluten free gummy bears and these gorgeous All-American gourmet chocolates.
EXAMPLE 2 – In stores, real world examples. This retailer below combined 2 different brands together to utilize their complementing colors AND snacking purpose (soda and chips!) to create sales.
Dr Bronner’s strategically color blocked in an end cap of a beauty isle by this retailer
La Croix brand packaging colorsnaturally create a color block on a pallet in stores
Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks uses bold colors to create cohesion across their product line on the shelf
Things That Work
Here are some ways in which you can effectively deploy color block merchandising:
Brightness: Bright colors seem to trigger a positive response in our brains tied to recognizing healthy and ripe, ready to eat fruits by their juicy shades.
Shading patterns: Minimize the use of shading or patterns that can appear to create a shadow or dampen bright colors. Use shading to emphasis and make fonts or logos more bold.
Using Color Wheel: A color wheel is an abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle, which shows the relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors etc. Use a color wheel to find the colors that both contrast but belong together to create cohesion.
Things To Avoid:
Darker Shades: Lots of dark shades of color, especially in a category where other colors are bright – poor lighting in stores can result in your product looking like it’s in the shadow and it will be missed by the browsing eye.
Colors not in the same color family: It’s important to pick color that go within a family so there is cohesion inside the product line which creates subliminal natural appeal.
Small Fonts: Font sizes that are too small or design embellishments that disappear when far away on the shelf.
Colors too close to each other on the color wheel:Color blocking’s success requires variance or contrast to draw attention.
Actions You Can Take Today:
Prior to making any mass production runs, print a mock-up of your packaging and take it into your local retailer and place it on the shelf against the competition. Make adjustments and repeat as necessary until you get the colors that pop against the other products on the shelf.
Walk the store as a brand owner and product developer to study what is going on and find the trends and patterns on the shelf as a source of inspiration and application before your next packaging artwork revisions.
CONCLUSION: Packaging design for retail is the art AND a science of capturing the browsing shopper’s eye in a grocery store. This unique environment often has florescent lighting, shadows created by shelving and requires your product grabs attention of a consumer from the peripheral view of your customer. If you want to be sure your products sell there, it’s important to design with these unique elements in mind. -------
MORE ABOUT START TO SOLD How do you take an idea from conception to selling? Whether it’s packaging, product development, brand design, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, or operations and logistics, you’ll get the in-depth, relevant and actionable advice and resources you need, here at theStart to Sold Blog. Click to subscribe to our YouTube Channel:http://startosoldpodcast.com.
MORE ABOUT EMILY PAGE Emily is CEO of Pearl Resourcing and has managed and launched multiple 7-figure brands in Costco, Williams-Sonoma, Kroger, and Amazon. She’s bringing you the expertise, resources, and mentors you need so that you can develop products and make them sell. She also offers business growth consulting (http://emilyannepage.com) and free advice for brand owners through START TO SOLD (http://starttosoldpodcast.com). Want to hear more sales strategies? Visit and subscribe to our YOUTUBE CHANNEL Start to Sold. Graphics by:Kat Reyes, VP of Brand & Marketing at Pearl Resourcing: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kat-reyes-design/. ------------- #ECRM #ECRMEvents #PrivateLabel #PrivateLabelTraining #BuyerStrategy #PrivateLabelTraining #BuyerStrategy #ProductDevelopmentStrategy #colorblocking #packagingdesign #ECRM #RANGEMe #ProductLaunchStrategy #PrivateBrands #SalesStrategy #RetailStrategy #RetailLaunch #PrivateLabelProducts #FoodIndustry #BeautyIndustry #VitaminIndustry #BuyerEducation #PackagingDesignStrategy