Great news! We’ve got a new brief… What happens next? Definition, discovery, panic? Not in these parts. Its Retail Safari time.

Safari means ‘journey’ in Swahili, and when any new brief comes in the first thing we want to do is go shopping; our Retail Safari. Using our EasySHOP framework (find out more about that here), a unique multi-dimensional approach to communication hierarchy and packaging management, we’re able to think about everything which could influence a shopper to act.

What were we looking for?

Recently we were handed a brief by an automotive client, who we’re looking to refresh a packaging design across a key range. The brief was simple; develop a clear and consistent look and feel across the range.

Over the course of an unusually sunny Manchester afternoon, we visited a number of independent stores and retail chains, putting ourselves in a shoppers shoes, understanding what best practice looked like and gathering as much insight and innovation as possible to feed in to a killer brief.

We found the best place to start was ‘in-category’, it helped us to understand what was happening in the immediate competitor set. Local independent Manchester motor factors such as TMS and BMS gave a real insight into the customer mind-set and the way they shop. Halfords gave a more consumer focused view but provided a greater spectrum of competing brands across multiple categories. It’s also good to reinforce the key points of difference between trade and consumer channels and a Retail Safari can really help with this.

Next up was ‘out-of-category’. Going outside of the norm gives an opportunity to see what other people do, remove yourself from the confines and norms of your own category and appreciate best practice whatever the category, brand or product. Our route was populated with retailers as diverse as ASDA, Selco and Dulux and all provided some brief shaping insights in some way, shape or form.

What did we find?

  • Differentiation of product category colour is key. This helps to break things down in to smaller more manageable chunks. Making the shopper journey and navigation of product ranges as easy as possible gives the greatest chance of selection. We saw a number of brands do this well, particularly Dulux in both their trade and consumer paint categories.
  •  Product colour is secondary. Our brief was focused on a product reliant on colour, and surprisingly product colour was much further down the hierarchy than anticipated. This came through particularly strongly in DIY stores such as B&Q where a number of brands make only a small reference to product colour.
  •  Prescriptive usage isn’t always needed. Be it cars on automotive products or the long flowing locks of a pretty girl on the front of hair dye packaging it’s too easy to deliver the most obvious product usage visually. Having taken this on-board from our Retail Safari, we were keen to see how we could deliver a primarily automotive packaging design solution without discouraging alternative uses of the product.

To find out more about how a Retail Safari could help answer the challenges of your next brief take a look at

Shaun Watson

Account Manager