There is a certain lexicon associated with the role of package design in selling products. In competitive categories like snacks and baked goods, package design is literally part and parcel of both product development and effective merchandising. From the choice of the packaging material to convenience-oriented features to graphics, color and photography, package design has become a priority for many brand owners.

The collective consumer clamor for convenience, for example, has led to more user-friendly package elements.  According to information published by Euromonitor International, zip/press closures grew 8% in retail packaging in 2014, driven in part by manufacturers' interest in providing on-the-go snacking options.

“Confectionery and sweet and savory snacks naturally fit into this trend, with these categories expected to generate more than 1 billion extra zip/press closures each over 2014 to 2019,” said Karine Dussimon, Euromonitor's senior packaging analyst in an April 2015 report.  

Based on simultaneous consumer interest in value, Ms. Dussimon also pointed to the proliferation of larger snacking packages.

“Offering ‘share pack options’ can be a sensible strategy in conveying this value,” she remarked.

Underscoring the significance of packaging on a crowded shelf, many bakeries and snack manufacturers are redesigning their products to garner more attention and, ultimately, sales. The SnackWell’s line of cookies and snacks, for example, was recently re-booted with a fresh look courtesy of a new logo and packaging. The Wolfgang Chocolate Co. in York, Pa., is another example, re-launching its cookie line with a new name, logo and package with silver filigree on the boxes. The Los Angeles-based artisan bread company La Brea Bakery (owned by Aryzta AG, Los Angeles), for its part, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary by redesigning several of its packages with more stylized logo, bold typeface and rich red color.

For new product development, packaging materials and aesthetics play an important role in the R.&D. process. Innovative new packaging formats can include co-packaged products: the Krusteaz brand, for instance, recently rolled out limited-time Belgian Waffle and Buttermilk Pancake mixes packaged with a packet of Ferraro’s Nutella.

While package design and redesign may build or reinforce a brand, one industry expert cautioned against designing for the sake of design.

“You don’t want to put consumers in the position when the redesign is so radical that they can’t find their favorite products,” advised David Luttenberger, global packaging director for Mintel, Sewell, N.J.

Mr. Luttenberger emphasized the importance of providing truly useful packaging.

“I try to steer clients away from ‘disruptive’ package design, which can lack the emotional engagement with a consumer,” he said. “Instead, we talk about solution-based packaging, in which companies dig deeply into a category discovering not only what consumers like but what’s important to them in the packaging.”

Mr. Luttenberger cited a “packaging litmus test” to determine if a package is based on a solution, whether that solution is product safety/security, shelf life, convenience or another factor. He also suggested that brands put clear claims on their packages.

“Don’t just say, ‘New’ or ‘convenient’ — you have to tell the consumer what’s in it for them, like if it’s resealable,” he suggested.

He also distinguished between standing out on the shelf in a good way and standing out like a proverbial sore thumb.

“I say it’s okay not to look like every other product in the category, but it’s not okay to not look like any other product in the category,” he said. “When you are so different and when those intuitive features aren’t evident, then your brand’s new package design can be a candidate for de-selection.”