Packaged FINDINGS: Pet food line has commanding aisle presence

Posted on May 29, 2019 by

Last night I went into the local pet mart to pick up my monthly replenishment of dog food. I wasn’t five feet into the store when I was confronted by a massive display of packaging for Orijen® and Acana® products. The entire aisle was filled with their assorted product offerings, and while overwhelming it was one of the most organized and impactful displays of a thoughtfully structured packaging hierarchy I have seen in quite a while. So, because I am as particular about the content and composition of what my pet eats as I am about what I serve my family, I was immediately drawn in to find out more.

The Orijen and Acana product lines from Champion Petfoods are new to our market – distributed both in-store and online around the world. I was most drawn to the Orijen packaging because of its bright, clean, direct, simply organized and unified graphic design grid which confined 90% of important product data directly to the center of each package face panel. It was a lot of content that potentially could have gotten bogged down in excessive copy, but a streamlined iconography system provided an instantaneous snapshot of product composition without necessarily requiring the ability to read. The beauty of this being that icons don’t require translation – so if products like these are distributed into multiple countries, copy dense and cluttered translations are not required, leaving the package with the same clean, calm look wherever it appears.

For me, one of the main points of attraction was the impact of the product wall. Headers with personable and eager pet images reminded me of my dog when she is particularly excited, setting the atmosphere for satisfaction with the food. And being the first aisle in the store, consumers can stand far enough back to take in the full scope of the product line instead of being crammed into narrow aisles where you can barely get a cart through let alone take in the full scope of product offerings. Products on the shelves were organized in logical size and product sequence to follow the natural eye tracking, moving you through the entire product display.

The design hierarchies for the two brand lines share many common cues, yet remain distinctly individual. Colors between the Orijen and Acana bands are similar in value but varied in tone and hue – enough to provide a unified product portfolio but with distinct product definition. While panels have different design grids, the end result still remains unified and natural extensions of each other.

Pure and simple, what I liked best was the restrained and direct package design system, both elegant and direct in communication. The selective use of fonts is given purpose by keeping copy to a bare minimum, relying on the icons for primary communication. The consumer doesn’t have to work to intake the brand message, just scan the color band that bisects each package. Above the color band is a supporting photo, and below the color band is a black band that grounds the package and contains the net weight statement. Using a matte surface finish to the package virtually removes any potential glare from standard overhead store lighting. Eliminating hot spots and keeping the package completely legible at all times is one of the assets of the design system.

The packaging and the display did what good packaging is supposed to do, and I purchased several bags. But I also wanted the answer to my “why” – why is this better for your pet, and what makes this product different from competitive products? While the packaging stands out, if I could change one thing, it would be to include what “biologically appropriate” product composition means, and how their manufacturing process differs from competitors in creating a superior pet food product. Perhaps, especially when introducing a new product into a store, shelf talkers, motion activated displays or supportive communications materials could be integrated into their wall of power to inform the consumer and draw them to their website.

So I am trying their product but as I do not speak dog, my only measure of satisfaction will come if my dog willingly consumes it. With a lion’s share of medical issues, she is notoriously fussy – so we have to be highly cautious about the majority of what she consumes. Now that I know more about it, I am confident that the quality of the food is demonstrated by the quality of the packaging. 

If you would like to explore how to create an effective packaging design system for your brand, contact us at 920-886-7727 or  Throughout our 60 plus years of supporting customers with consumer brands large and small, we apply our experience and expertise to the entire process to create efficient and effective solutions. 

The purpose of our “findings” blog is to spotlight packaging that displays thinking that breaks the mold, delivers something new or chancy – or at the very least, highlights packaging that catches your eye in the retail environment.