When the Package Gets Undersold by the Clerk

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  The other day I was with my wife as she was out shopping for a new cell phone. After she made her choice, two things caught my attention. The first was when the clerk assisting her was setting up the phone. My wife¬† opened the package to look for instructions and while doing so, she commented on the design. She exclaimed, "This is quite a nice package for a phone." I just smiled and observed as she proceeded. The second point of interest was when she told the clerk that she would also need a Bluetooth headset. We followed the clerk to the aisle containing accessories and looked for the proper headset. I looked at all the packaging and then the brands and finally the prices. The clerk looked for the brand that carried his preferences and pointed to the corresponding package. My wife expressed her preferences, looked at his recommendations and then the price. The product, package and price all worked together and the sale was made. I wondered though how much the package comes into play when a clerk gets involved. As a designer, I spend a large amount of time creating a package that reflects a brand in order to help sell products yet can be undermined at any time by a clerk and his or her preferences. We hope that the brand we work for has built quality and a positive reputation that rings true with clerks all over but I'm not sure if there is a way to measure this activity or to prepare for it accordingly. I have my doubts with using focus groups on this situation and feel that some detective work or ethnographic research needs to come into play here. I guess I'll just have to get out to the retail environment and do some digging. - Chuck Miller, www.ctipack.com

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