Packaged FINDINGS: Nature’s Earthly Choice Faces Challenge on Shelf

Posted on Nov 7, 2019 by

Shopping never ceases to amaze me, and now that I do a majority of my shopping online, any trip to a store is an adventure. In part, I like to use my visit to check in on what stands out due to its exceptional execution or to look for things that don’t work so well. Ultimately for me, it is all about the “do’s”, “don’ts” and the “oh no’s” because I know what could or should have been done better – and not necessarily through a large expenditure of resources.

In a recent visit, I was wandering through what I will refer to as the “bean field” looking for a specific brand of black beans when I spotted what looked like carton end or side panels (à la sardine cans) interspersed among a variety of canned bean brands. I had no idea what the product was but it struck me as odd to see it in this location, so I bit on the curiosity hook and took a look. It turned out to be a product new to my local food store – an assortment of “bean bowls” by Nature’s Earthly Choice – pre-made bean dishes that just needed a simple heat-up and voila – dinner is served. Actually, the idea was an intriguing way to offer a unique, healthy, and fast food product, which is so appealing to contemporary consumers.

Differing from the standard canned beans, this should have been an absolute hero on shelf. The structure consisted of a tray in a die cut sleeve, which when filled with product seemed to provide above-average stability when displayed in an upright position. Unfortunately, with stores no longer having the shelf-stocking support to ensure all is neat and tidy, it wasn’t surprising to find the product laying on its side. The result? The side and end panels facing the consumer did little to communicate the brand, product specifics or deliver the “story” to engage the consumer.

However, when you pick up the package and view it straight on, a much different story is told. The product now becomes something very appealing when compared to canned beans. The face panels are created with bold, simple, organized and systematized graphics, with strong appetite appeal images and easy-to-understand messaging. Had this been facing outward, there might have been a legitimate opportunity to connect with the consumer. Had these products been packaged in shelf-ready shippers/displays, this would be an entirely different scenario.

Putting a new or improved product on shelf needs to be done within the construct of how to best face the product to the consumer, and maximizing use of the package to achieve that goal. If your package is your primary tool to engage with the public and it doesn’t connect, the retail environment stands ready to eat your product up and spit it out, eager to create room for the next best product to challenge shelf supremacy. Make sure you work with creative teams that not only design to the highest creative standards – but who also (as fellow consumers) experience products in retail environments, enabling them to anticipate and address the myriad of issues that packaging encounters in the retail world.


Regardless of what you are developing packaging for, if you need help with the structure and design that will ensure your product’s success, we invite you to start a conversation with us by contacting us at 920-886-7727 or

The purpose of our “findings” blog is to spotlight packaging that displays thinking that breaks the mold and delivers something new or chancy – or at the very least, highlights packaging that catches your eye in the retail environment – as well as identify and discuss packaging that falls short of expectation as a learning tool to improve future packaging design and effectiveness.