The idea: When it came to packaging for its rechargeable men’s shavers, Panasonic historically had a “different strokes for different folks” mentality: One box was designed for mass, another was created for class—and more for stores in between. Then a Target deal came along. “We were never able to get on shelf at Target before,” said Phil Federspiel, principal and CEO of Avon, Conn.-based design agency Group 4. He knew a facelift—not just a cosmetic one, but the kind that would unify the line of shavers and clearly communicate their premium, high-tech features—was in order.
The plan: To get on Target’s shelves, Panasonic needed to make sure its new package design was on target. Consumer research was phase one. The design agency conducted retail audits and found that brand buyers were evenly split among male users and female gifters. It also learned that while the packaging called out the bells and whistles of the product (such as speed), it didn’t translate what the benefits of such attributes were (“no pulling and tugging”) over that of a rotary or electric shaver.
The process: Next, it was time to get wordy by calling out product features that came out of those sessions. “We needed to make the product a bold hero on the shelf,” said Deb Kline, Group 4’s director of packaging, branding and merchandising. Pana-sonic has some hairy competition, including Braun, Remington and Philips shavers, so, “We talked to them about the appeal of the product versus the competitors’ claims. Then we worked on the language to make sure the front panel communication was right,” said Kline.
The results: The new design was ready in time for a June 2008 Father’s Day test at a few stores, and the client was happy with the results. So much so that the design intended for Target Stores has rolled out to other retailers, such as Best Buy. “Because Panasonic doesn’t advertise, this package has to do a lot more work than competitors’,” Federspiel said.
THE FINAL DESIGN
Razor sharp: To establish a hierarchy of information, the brand name was placed on top while a bottom band was created to highlight features. A soft metallic effect invokes technology, and side and back panels detail the product’s blade, motion and cleaning features.
Nano no-no: Prototype designs stressed high-tech style but still didn’t convey product features. One exploration nixed by the client blew up the Panasonic brand name a little too big. “It’s the first time we’ve ever heard that from a client!” Federspiel said. The cumbersome “Panasonic Nano Vortex HydraClean System II” from the original box (top) is now simply Panasonic in the final design (left). Specific model info, such as whether the shaver features the Nanotech blade or the Vortex Cleaning System, is organized at the bottom. The reasoning? “It made sense to consolidate that batch of names,” Federspiel said.