Standing out in a sea of retail sameness

Despite gloomy stats about ecommerce taking over retail, Marketing Week reports that “46 percent of shoppers still prefer to buy in a physical store.”

But the shift to ecommerce means many brands are not marketing to stand out at retail—sinking into a “sea of sameness” that can doom their retail sales. How can you ensure consumers choose your product during that crucial, limited timeframe at the retail point of sale?



Brand recognition alone does not guarantee a sale. Packaging with wonderful design and great benefits is no longer enough. What looks good in an online listing might not work on the shelf when placed among competitors.

Your packaging must articulate your brand visually and in copy in a way that maximizes impact when viewed next to your competition.

Ask yourself these questions when trying to stand out among other products:

< Is there a cutout to engage consumers’ senses (sight, feel and smell)?

< Are there undeniable benefits with targeted messaging?

< How does the packaging shape and size compare to competitors?

< Are you using color to draw eyes to your product or to its top features?

< Does your packaging integrate with your advertising message?



Consumers shopping online might be less concerned with brand consistency because they are shopping for price and convenience first. But in retail, where visuals are key, brand consistency can be the difference between a one-off sale and a lifetime customer.

Let’s say you sell pillows and comforters in Walmart. The two products will appear in different sections of the store, but they should share a similar look to help consumers understand that both come from your brand. If the two products offer similar benefits, use the same terms on both packages to clearly illustrate the benefits.

Naturally, you don’t want all your products to look the same, but there are several ways to begin exploring consistency that consumers will recognize without thinking.

< Use a similar visual template on all products.

< Stay consistent in logo treatments across products — same logo colors and background color.

< Choose a flexible color palette so you can explore different looks across product lines without losing the visual brand identity.

< Use similar logo positioning on all packaging for consistency.



According to a 2017 Salesforce report, 53 percent of millennial consumers think retail associates don’t possess the necessary tools to deliver great customer service. Retailers and brands should work together to close the knowledge gap and capture sales from this coveted demographic.

To help retail associates sell your product:

< Craft clear and concise deliverables making it easier for retail associates to understand and recommend your product.

< Provide retailers with a cheat sheet or easy access to online content or videos that clearly show features, benefits, and how-to information.

< Use messaging targeted at the typical buyer to address common pain points and decision factors.

< Use what you already know about your customers’ buying habits to help retail associates answer common questions.


If you’re fortunate enough to have a point-of-sale merchandising opportunity, place a free-standing display, an on-shelf talk box, shelf danglers or aisle violators, which are signs that extend out from shelves to capture attention and promote products and specials. You can highlight your product’s selling points, feature links to helpful online content and offers, or better yet, provide access to live chat with a customer representative who can lead the customer through their purchase.

It doesn’t take an enormous budget to create packaging and branding that stand out at retail and capture sales. Delivering an informative, efficient shopping experience with brand consistency and education is the key to brand differentiation from the competition and creating impact on the shelf.

Keith Heberling is an executive account director for Anderson Group, a marketing agency in Sinking Spring. He can be reached at or (610) 678-1506.

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