May 17, 2016 Loren Heinzeroth

Inspiration for Better Packaging and Merchandising

View These Winning Designs Announced At The 2016 NRHA Awards Program

If you are considering an update to your packaging and in-store POP merchandising, there are some great idea starters represented in this year’s awards program sponsored by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA). Full disclosure: because the top packaging honor went to Heinzeroth Marketing Group for a Rain Bird package, we have a special interest in this awards program. But despite that small qualifier, we do think all of the winning designs are worth sharing.

This is the seventh annual NRHA awards program. Winning entries were exhibited at the National Hardware Show May 5-7 in Las Vegas and were highlighted in NRHA keynote presentations during the event as well as in the May issue of Hardware Retailing Magazine.

Present Your Product Benefits Clearly

Among noteworthy trends in these winning package designs is an emphasis on clear presentation of what the product does for the customer. That may sound a bit common sense, but it is surprising how many packages miss this important point. Many packages assume too much from shoppers who may be seeing and considering products for the first time. They may not be looking for a particular product at all or even know what it is called. Instead, many shoppers are more naturally interested in solutions to problems, in ways to enhance their homes or in any number of other appeals that should to be tied into the packages’ core messaging. Consider where your prospects are in the buyer journey and tailor your messaging to connect with those interests.


With the Rain Bird Easy-To-Install Automatic Sprinkler System package, we attempted to inspire interest with three quick-hit statements on the front:

  • Waters lawn automatically
  • Eliminates hose and sprinkler adjustments
  • Installs in one afternoon

The package front is also die cut to reveal the kit's key components: 6 pro-grade rotors and a timer. And while there are fittings and tubing also included, those are detailed on the back. Every panel of the box has an express purpose: answering questions the shoppers may have about watering efficiency, showing lawn areas you can cover, listing tools needed for installation and other matters of interest.

Lighten Up On Translated Text

In contrast to packages that were entered in the competition a few years ago, a second “nugget” of insight we see in the winning packages is a slight retreat from multi-lingual text. An observation here is that packages that try to say too much are in particular trouble when attempting to translate everything. In the quest to reach out to non-English reading customers, some packages end up so cluttered visually that they really don't communicate anything. The best designed packages in the competition included Spanish and also French at times, but selectively. Not all text was translated. For those of us involved with packaging design, this trend away from cluttered text is a breath of fresh air. Of course, consider applicable packaging regulations followed by your retailers as well as by Canada if you are selling there. 

Provide Easy Shopping Links

Another best practice is to include QR codes that link to videos and other online reference information. When you can’t reasonably state or show the full product story on your package, consider offering more insights by placing installation steps, product selection information and other resources on YouTube and your own web pages. Many shoppers that are not quite ready to “buy now” will also appreciate having that online information available for future reference. For products that have a long consideration cycle, the package may be only one of many touch points for the customer. Make it easy for them to research your product by improving your online content and referencing it on your packaging.

Utilize Off-Shelf Merchandising

In POP entries, NRHA’s winner of the top award was Brasscraft Manufacturing for its corrugated floorstand display featuring Sure2Connect valves used in home plumbing. The company opted for an off-shelf approach for their new product, rather than having it pegged or shelved inline with other plumbing parts.

The display is simply constructed and has colorful graphics that do all of those same things we say above about good packaging: There are multiple views of the product emphasizing its next-generation design that allows you to “push to connect” without glue or solder. Once again, the display does a good job of engaging shoppers and quickly tells them what the product will do to make home plumbing projects easier.

To see the Brasscraft mechandiser as well as the full gallery of winners in the NRHA awards program, check the entire article.

New packaging and merchandising approaches for discussion at the meeting can often make a critical difference in winning a retailer’s business. Read our free guide for tips to prepare for your next product line review.

Published by Loren Heinzeroth May 17, 2016
Loren Heinzeroth