Focusing on the right things


While looking at some leftover bags of Halloween candy, I noticed a very smart packaging decision that the manufacturer made. I’m sure this caught my eye when I bought the candy, but I forgot to write about it at the time. So what’s the innovation? Instead of printing the number of pieces per bag in small type near the corner, these special bags had the number of pieces written in huge type, right in the middle of the package.

This makes a lot of sense, when you think about how people’s candy shopping habits vary. Most times, you’re looking for your favorite items, and you probably don’t care about the exact number of servings in a bag. But when Halloween comes around, you want the best bang for your buck. Most kids will measure their bounty by the number of pieces, rather than by weight. So assuming you give each child roughly the same number of pieces, the best way to buy candy is to get a huge bag with lots of individually wrapped items. The quantity per bag goes from an afterthought to a top priority.

The subtle (or not so subtle) differences in candy packaging during Halloween underscore the importance of using design to communicate the most salient aspects of your product. In this case, customers are looking for a lot of pieces per bag, and the special Halloween bag design features this info front-and-center. What’s interesting to me is that you don’t necessarily have to run a big, expensive research project to identify hidden benefits that you never thought of. Rather, the key might be a detail that you’ve been telling people about all along — but it just needs to be a little bigger or brighter to make them really take notice.