Good packaging represents an opportunity to entice and attract the customer in that three-second window of potential aisle attention; to differentiate your range; and to enhance the customer experience by saving their time and reducing any confusion.
But packaging that looks like this
fails on all counts as this account explains.
We've all been here, haven't we? The problem of picking up the wrong item from the shelf or, as I call it, the apricot/orange yoghurt interface conundrum. The point is that similar products must be visually differentiated and the real mystery is that Petcetera could have done so at no extra cost. It's not about radical design. Why not just move the varietal fish image to the top of the package since that's where the customer's eyes alight?
Further pictures here show just how unenticing a wall of these beauties looks and emphasises the lack of differentiation. As for the customer experience? Well, as the disgruntled pescaphile explained to me via email "I'm neurotic at the best of times, and I was in a blind panic, thinking I'd somehow walk out again with goldfish food.." and that's not at all the desired engagement.
Moreover, a side effect of forcing a closer inspection of the details of the packaging was the revelation that the contents don't seem to vary hugely. That's a real double whammy - a customer now feeling (rightly or wrongly) that as well as being inconvenienced, they've also been duped.
All of this is so easily avoidable. Packaging gives you the ability to exert control over your message and for that reason alone it's worth the extra effort. Petcetera's mission statement makes the usual allusions to "superior levels of customer service" and I have no doubt that they strive to achieve this, but they must appreciate that customer service isn't just about the way you smile at and talk to your customers!