A study conducted by Procter and Gamble 25 years ago indicated that consumers pushing a shopping cart down the aisle of a supermarket, look at packaging for 1/6th of a second before they decide to stop and look. Considering the extreme rise of marketing communications clutter over all those years, we can assume that the shoppers’ average attention span is even lower nowadays. But what makes the consumers buy the product once noticed on the market shelf? According to research made by Goldman Sachs in the 1990s, for people who shop with a shopping list, more than 60% of the products they picked and put in the shopping cart were impulse purchases. Also, a study conducted by the Food Marketing Institute indicates that if a customer picks up a package, even if not familiar with the product, there is a 71% chance he/she will put it in the cart. What all of these mean for a CPG marketer, is that when designing a product’s package, the initial battle to win is the one over shopper’s attention. Give a shopper a reason to stop and look at your product. Remember that you don’t have much time to do that and you’re not the only one trying to achieve it.
Bosco is one of the best-known chocolate syrup brands in the US. Established in 1928, Bosco is known for having a role in American pop culture, from early TV advertising on children’s shows to playing a pivotal role on Seinfeld as George Costanza’s ATM code. When we met Scott Sanders - Bosco co-owner and consultant to food and consumer packaged goods companies, they were in the middle of rebranding of the chocolate syrup label. Together with Scott, we decided to pretest two label versions he received from his designer and compare them to the existing one using Attensee. Based on the results, Bosco was able to see which design performs best in grabbing shoppers’ attention which is the first step to making a purchase decision. Here’s how we did it.
We started by testing the respondents’ attention distribution over a picture of market shelf containing different chocolate syrups. Then, we asked the respondents to name the products they remembered standing on the shelf and pick the one that caught most of their attention. The same test was conducted on 3 groups with 50 respondents for each Bosco label version.
Being put in a competitive environment, both versions of the new label performed well, reaching the second (ver. B) and the third place (ver. A) on the Path of Engagement graph. In contrary, the old version wasn’t even recognized as an area of increased viewer engagement.
This order is also visible within the answers given by the respondents after the test. In case of the new layouts, Bosco brand has been remembered by 95% (ver. B) and 63% (ver. A) more people than it was with the old label. What’s interesting, despite its visual attractiveness on the shelf (big, yellow bottle), the Fox’s U-bet syrup had a really low recognition rate in all three tests. The probable cause of such situation is the small size of the logo. What it means is that unless picked and bought by the shopper instantly, most likely the U-bet package will not leave a remarkable brand’s trace in consumer’s memory.
The opposite situation occurred with the Nesquik and Hershey’s label. Despite the low engagement rate (number of people & their time looking at the bottles), these brands were easily remembered by the respondents. It seems that the structure of attention distributed over a market shelf is highly influenced by the previous brand’s recognition. The more recognized it is, the less visual interest it generates - humans are more likely to notice objects they are unfamiliar with, which also explains why the “brand new” factor is considered as a value worth mentioning in pretty much every marketing communications’ field out there. The conducted tests, followed by a quick survey tell us that the new versions of Bosco’s labels are performing better than the original one, with a slight advantage on behalf of version B.
As soon as your product grabs shopper’s attention, meaning he/she stops and (in best case) picks it off the shelf - the label has to communicate the product’s value in a clear, distinctive and hard-hitting way. In the second test, we’ve checked the way people perceived the Bosco labels as well as how much they remembered. This allowed us to assess each label’s ability to communicate the value of Bosco chocolate syrup.
While the old label was featuring both ice cream and chocolate milk, Bosco decided to simplify the message and go just with the drink (ver. A) or ice cream (ver. B). Despite the change did not influence the introspective, overall feeling about the labels (respondents rated them pretty much the same), the ice cream has gathered more interest represented by a visible hot spot on the heatmap for time. Yet the difference is very small, in real life it means a better allocation of limited shopper’s attention.
The following survey has also shown a better communication by the ice cream version of the label. Namely, more people remembered that the syrup has been made since 1928, it’s made from natural ingredients and that it contains B vitamins. Also, all of the respondents recognized the Bosco brand with 98% of them being able to tell the correct flavour of the syrup. What’s interesting, by filtering the Path of Engagement by the incorrect answers about syrup’s flavour, we can see a direct connection between the flavour familiarity and previous encounter with the blue ribbon telling that the syrup is indeed chocolate flavoured.
The conducted study indicates that Bosco’s decision to improve the syrup’s labeling was definitely a right move. Both version A and B of the new package is believed to perform better than the original one with a visible advantage of version B over A. Here’s what Scott Sanders, Bosco co-owner had to say after seeing the results:
Having these results from Attensee’s testing validated our investment in a label redesign. It also provided assurance that our creative direction resulted in consumers seeing the key messages we wanted them to see. This test process has removed some of the uncertainty in moving forward with our rebranding work.