Package redesign of the month: Petcurean

A pet food makeover helps create new brand awareness, with a QR and mobile assist.

It may be hard for shopper marketers to believe, but sometimes standing out in the aisle isn’t always a good thing.

BC-based Petcurean Pet Nutrition, an epicurean pet food company, isn’t a wallflower in its category. In 25 countries worldwide, with over 100 SKUs in over 1,200 specialty pet food retailers in Canada and 900 in the US, the brand experienced 30% growth last year.

It discovered through in-store shelf tests that its high-gloss, metallic packaging was highly recognizable – not a bad thing in itself, but it was not exactly in keeping with the idea of premium pet food. The foil appeared garish and mass market, almost like a potato chip bag.

Added to that, though shopper interviews showed strong unaided recognition of its two lines, GO! and NOW FRESH, there was almost zero recognition for Petcurean the brand. Even loyal customers who knew the difference between the two lines said the packaging, with its myriad of information in small type, revealed few cues as to those differences. Competitor audits showed that the premium pet food category was rife with poor packaging communication along with varied and confusing nutritional claims – a clear recipe for a confused shopper.

“The premium and super premium pet food category is extremely cluttered and the pet specialty store environment is also very busy, with a smaller store format and plenty of product offerings,” says Petcurean marketing manager Jaimie Turkington. “It is critical that our packaging efficiently and effectively cuts through the clutter and communicates what makes our products unique.”

BC-based Subplot Design, which did the brand and competitor audits, redesigned the new GO! and NOW FRESH packaging after overhauling the brand strategy, also creating a new logo, POS materials and more.

The new packaging, hitting store shelves Nov. 1, retains the original high-gloss metallic foil, but with less shine. The small, unreadable type has been replaced by large type communicating the product formula and diet-specific attributes on one block, with the main flavour and product features and benefits on another, both in a clear and organized way. Large black and white animal photography – a different approach for this category, apparently – backed with metallic foil adds dimension and visibility. Finally, compared to the old logo, which was lost in a sea of tiny text, the new, crisper and easier-to-read Petcurean logo sits more prominently on a tab at the top of the package.

Transitional signage will help existing customers identify the products in its new packaging.

To help current customers recognize the new packaging and introduce new SKUs, in-store POS will include take-away product information booklets, along with laminated shelf cards showing the old versus new packaging.  Transition shelf talkers will be situated right below each new product.

QR codes located on the side of the packaging, on all POS and on select shelf talkers, will act as sales tools to help potential customers identify the product best-suited to their pet, says Turkington. The code can be scanned and will direct people to a custom-built food selector tool on the new website, also launching Nov. 1. A mobile-optimized version for smartphones has also been developed to help customers get product information in the store.

It’s too soon for hard and fast results, but  Turkington says the feedback at store level has been good, with some retailers giving the brand more prominent positions within their stores. Petcurean won’t give numbers but the brand has made a significant financial investment in the redesign and corporate redevelopment, and it’s also investing significantly in applying the new brand standards across everything and anything it produces.