Have You Done Your Research?

Today, the world is at our fingertips. We have a question, we type it in the search field and BAM—we get pages upon pages of possible answers. When it comes to packaging questions, you can get lost in an ocean of possible answers from a spectrum of sources.

The first thing to know is that there are 2 types of research: Primary and Secondary.

Primary research is done by you or a hired research firm.

Secondary research is information that is used from previously conducted studies. These results are usually found through the internet and databases and then applied to your own study.

The downside is that this information may not apply directly to your company and the information may not be as helpful as conducting it on your own.

There are two types of data that can be collected when conducting research studies: Qualitative and Quantitative.

Qualitative data is collected in the following ways:

Focus Groups are used to:

  • Provide exploration and guidance to the development process

  • To understand the story behind the numbers from quantitative studies

  • Explore issues to form hypotheses when none exist

  • Provide input about issues that should be measured
    using quantitative research

  • Do NOT give definitive answers

Interviews are:

  • One-on-one interviews that last 60–90 minutes

  • Conducted by a professional moderator who explains interview process, reveals the presence of observers behind a one-way mirror, and reassures participant that observers are harmless

  • Provides great detail with approximately 10 times as much information per respondent compared to focus group


  • Consumers can be observed shopping, reading labels, and interacting with the package—with minimal bias and distortion

  • During an in-depth interview, the moderator is also employing ethnographic techniques; that is, the moderator is carefully watching the body language, facial expressions, and movements of the respondent

Quantitative Data is collected using the two following methods.

Field Study

  • Field experiments take place in real life settings  

  • Record how people react in the environment

  • Eye tracking is an example of a field experiment that measures a person's eye movement as they view packaging to see what areas of the package they focus on, ultimately causing them to choose one brand over another

  • These experiments are useful for the fact that they put the consumer in the most realistic setting

Lab Experiments

  • Lab experiments can be conducted to test how a package would react in different environments

  • Testing can be done to find the fail point of a package

  • This determines what dunnage is used and if the current design holds up to expectations

  • Some common tests are:

    • Drop tests

    • ECT tests

    • Crush test

Another great resource for your research is PackagingSchool.com. Enroll in Packaging Design Workflow for more great packaging research tips!

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