How to undertake a packaging design survey

If you are considering undertaking a packaging design survey, you can either do it yourself or commission a market research agency to do it for you. Whilst it might seem obvious that the first option will be cheaper, this is not necessarily the case. It could well be more expensive.

Running your own packaging design survey

If you want to design, set up and run your own packaging design survey, there are services available to you. They are fast and inexpensive. But they have significant limitations, and are no less expensive nor any faster than using a market research agency. Also, of course, you have to do all the work, including interpretation of the results, with no guidance. So what to do?

One option is to check these services out, and then use their prices as a benchmark to compare with a couple of market research agencies.  If you would like to do this just contact me and I'll tell you what these services are.

Commissioning a market research agency

If you commission a market research agency it is good for you to know something about the packaging design survey process. We hope the sections below will help you in this regard.

Packaging design survey questions

When planning a packaging design survey you need to consider several questions. For example:

- How many respondents should you have?
- Who should your respondents be in terms of their shopping or purchasing behaviour?
- Which of the two main methods of packaging design research should you use: monadic or sequential (see below)?

If you use the sequential method you can have a smaller sample size than if you use the monadic approach. It could be just a few hundred respondents, or even as few as 100. This will mean a lower survey cost.

In terms of who your respondents should be, basically, the more general they are, the lower will be the survey cost. For example, if your product is a brand of mayonnaise, then it will be cheaper to run your survey with "grocery shoppers" than with "mayonnaise buyers".  Having said that, the difference in cost could be minimal.

Unless you have research experience, these questions are perhaps best answered by a market research agency that specializes in this area.

Packaging design survey questionnaire design

Once you have answered the above questions you (or your market research agency) need to design the questionnaire. Again, there are DIY tools which can help with this. However, because they are DIY they are, by necessity, simplified. In other words, they will give a choice of pre-prepared questions that can be included in the questionnaire. They will not allow you to design a bespoke questionnaire to meet your particular requirements.

Either way, any packaging design survey questionnaire will consist of two sections. The first is the demographic and screener section and the second is the design test section.

The first section

This is designed to collect information on age, gender, life stage, etc… These questions have to be asked at the start of the questionnaire because they are used to ensure that the sample is demographically balanced.

Imagine you want 70% of your sample to be female and 30% to be male. To achieve this, the number of respondents of each gender is counted internally by the online survey software. This happens when respondents answer the gender question. Once a sufficient number of males, for example, has completed the questionnaire, all further males who begin the survey will be prevented from completing it.

In addition, this first section has to include various questions to screen out those respondents who do not qualify to complete the survey. For example, if your product is frozen fish then you might want to screen out anybody who does not buy frozen fish.

The second section

This is the design test, in which respondents are asked to rate or rank the design or designs you are testing. This could be on different attributes such as Appeal or Likelihood to buy. The exact questions will depend on the attributes or emotional values that your packaging design is intended to convey.

Broadly, speaking there are two types of test question. The first is monadic, which means that each respondent sees and answers questions on only one pack design. The second is sequential, which means each respondent sees and answers questions on more than one design. Some surveys include both a monadic and sequential approach. There are pros and cons to each.

Our main message

As a market research agency which designs and runs packaging design surveys, we obviously have a particular position on this subject! In the past it was true that market research was expensive, and this has led to the rise of DIY tools. However, nowadays, with the advent of new technologies, there are research agencies (not just us), which offer fast, effective and affordable packaging design survey services.

Find out more about our packaging design research service or download our pdf 10 tips for effective packaging design research.

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