It’s easy to underestimate the power of packaging, but when a wholesale customer brings forward a suggestion, you listen. We had an opportunity to retool the packaging for one of our signature staples - our Sweet Stacks cookies - after we learned from one of our wholesale accounts that the previous wrapping was hiding our logo on store shelves. As we went through the challenge of improving our packaging, it made us consider our customer feedback process and the steps we take for each retool or new product. We wanted to share the five steps we have in our process to help other small business owners and entrepreneurs.
1/ Listen to your customers
Your customers are your greatest asset, and it's important to listen to both your retail and wholesale customers. If there are any complaints, take them into immediate account. We recently tackled an issue our wholesalers had when displaying our Sweet Stacks cookies on their cafe or grocery shelves. They were packaged in a cello bag with a branded label whose weight caused it to have a floppy top. This prevented the flavour of the cookie and our brand logo from being visible while sitting on a shelf. So how did we fix it? We followed the next four steps to come up with a solution.
2/ Consult your baking and logistics team
Our first step when tackling packaging for a new product is to conduct rigorous on-site testing. We first consult our baking team for guidance as to how the product should be stored as this often heavily influences the packaging material (ie. a product that needs to be stored in the fridge needs to be able to withstand condensation). We also need to understand what is important to keep freshness and extend shelf life. In the case of our Sweet Stacks, the product was shelf stable so we had a bit more freedom when it came to the design. Finally, we consulted our logistics team to ensure the packaging design held up in shipping.
3/ Research other brands
Experiencing other brands and products is a source of great inspiration. With our Sweet Stacks, we knew it was key to have a design that made them easy to display and stand out on the shelves. We took the time to visit various cafes and high-end markets across the city, noting what worked and what didn’t for products in similar categories.
4/ Create a design
Packaging design is hard to get right, yet it can be the biggest driver of a customer choosing your product over a myriad of others. We worked with a local Toronto packaging designer who collected all of our team inputs and created a brand design and colour palette that complemented the Sweet Flour brand. The colour palette was especially important because we not only needed to match our company colours but also develop a colour system to help customers easily identify each flavour.
5/ Test the final product
Once the final product is in place, from a new cookie flavour to a new package redesign - it needs to undergo testing at our "pseudo" consumer level. If a new cookie flavour, it needs to pass the test of the baking team and the office team, before we gather feedback from neighbouring companies, friends & family, and even loyal customers (we treat them to a special delivery AND and ask for feedback!). If new packaging, it needs to withstand cross country shipping, so our logistics team will do test runs with our couriers and FedEx shipments to ensure the package arrives intact under our usual shipping conditions.
By following these five steps, we were able to create a feedback process that started with our wholesale customers and led to the design of new Sweet Stacks packaging that allowed them to stand out on shelves and ultimately increase sales..
While we may not be Taco Bell’s innovation team, we’re proud of our small but mighty team who actioned this important product enhancement for our customers.