TDmonthly Magazine!
May 2006 | Vol. V - No. 5


How to Judge a Gift By Its Package

Proper Packaging Can Make or Break a Toy

“The truth is that everybody who buys the product will look at the package. Why are we putting so little into it?” Bill Goodwin, Goodwin Design Group
Bill Goodwin is president and CEO of Goodwin Design Group. His experience spans nearly 20 years, and his clients — including Binney & Smith, Campbell’s Soup Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Disney, General Mills, Hasbro, Johnson & Johnson, Mattel, Toys “R” Us and Wal-Mart — represent some of the world’s leading brands.

He recently spoke at the Youth Marketing Mega-Event 2006 held Mar. 27 to 29 in Huntington Beach, Calif. TDmonthly Magazine caught up with Goodwin to ask him a few questions about the significant role packaging plays in selling toys.

“Packaging is an important part of a product's success,” noted Kim Kutska, vice president of e-commers at GrowingTreeToys in State College, Pa. “For example, International Playthings repackaged the Egg & Spoon Race game so that it now shows all of the contents in blister packaging. As a result, we have sold many more than we did before, since it is a cute item that looks more appealing in this packaging.”

Goodwin explained that great packaging comes from clearly being able to communicate the benefit of a product. “A well-trained buyer is going to look at something and say, ‘I don’t understand what it is — I’m not getting the benefit.’”

Through promotions, package changes or brand evolutions, a company can easily keep its product’s story fresh, thereby maintaining an emotional relationship with the end user, Goodwin continued. Relying on structure (such as the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle), color (such as that of a pack of Crayola pens) and visual autonomy (no need for lengthy text), companies can guarantee their products stand out. In addition, the line between fantasy and reality is crucial, he noted.

“Kids interpret somewhat literally,” Goodwin said. “In the fantasy form, you can only take it so far before it creates a situation where you have an out-of-box user experience, and the kid’s disappointed, because it’s not what they thought it was; or God-forbid it’s bought by a parent, and it’s not what they thought it was. You won’t get them back, so the product depiction is essential.”

Goodwin noted that in package design, the toy industry could benefit from following the examples of other product categories. He offered the following tips:

“Define what the brand represents, and stick to it. Use the strategy — what the communication on the package is, what the benefit of the product is — as the defining parameters for everything you do in the design and creative process. It’s a product for kids, so why not ask kids what they like? They do that a lot in product development, but they don’t do it in packaging. The truth is that everybody who buys the product will look at the package. Why are we putting so little into it?”

Goodwin suggested that manufacturers just starting out model themselves after other successful companies. Unique ideas, he added, are key.

“Don’t even bother unless you’ve got something that’s better and has a genuine better benefit to people, and you can articulate it, and you’re willing to invest in branding and packaging in a way that will allow that to come across,” he said. “This is a battle for the consumer’s mind — but in this category, as in many others, first it’s a battle for the retail space.”

Brenda RuggieroWriter's Bio: Brenda Ruggiero is a freelance writer from western Maryland. Read more articles by this author


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