A Lesson in Color Matching Across SKUs in Paperboard Packaging

Color wheel - color matching across package SKUs

Being a packaging professional I probably spend more time, and pay closer attention than any one person should, as I’m perusing the aisles at my local grocery store. As a result, I’m able to spot inconsistencies in packaging rather easily. Visiting our local Walmart recently, I noticed the Beetnik Paleo meals pictured below. Upon taking a closer look at their products, there are some pretty noticeable inconsistencies.

Beetnik Paleo Organic frozen meals

From left to right, none of the background colors match across the three packages. First, you see a background that is a bit red/orange, the middle is more yellow/tan, and the right is far more gray. As well, for the green flavor banner on each package, the left and middle are fairly close, but the far right is washed out and doesn’t come close to the other two. What’s even more telling is that the far left package was from a separate run – look at the branding logo and you’ll see it’s different from the other two. But even though the left package is clearly from a separate run, it has more in common color-wise with the middle package than the package to the right. Bottom line, inconsistencies abound across these folding carton sleeves, resulting in a not-so-great brand experience for the consumer who’s scanning the frozen meals section.

Does color consistency in packaging really matter?

Now, you may wonder “Does it really matter if colors don’t exactly match across your different products?” The short answer is YES!

Using the Beetnik Paleo meals as an example, consumers that purchase such a specialized, target market-focused product expect that the manufacturer is taking great care to source organic ingredients and responsibly raised animals, then blending them into a meal that meets the requirements of their chosen dietary plan. If the company can’t source paperboard packaging that drives a consistent consumer experience, the consumer may question how they could possibly be consistent with a far more challenging task, like sourcing organic ingredients.

Some may say these inconsistencies are only noticeable to the trained eye, but I would disagree. While consumers may not be able to easily discern the difference, if something feels “off” they may just choose your competitor’s product sitting right next to yours on the shelf – the one with perfectly printed packaging – without even really knowing WHY. Presenting a cohesive and consistent brand image across SKUs is extremely important if you want shoppers to consistently choose your brand and products over others. A great example of superior brand consistency is Coca-Cola red. Have you ever noticed it deviate from can to can or carton to carton? Absolutely not!

So I would ask: Are you willing to risk losing a sale

 to your competitor simply because their product packaging is more consistent than yours? I didn’t think so.

Working with a G7 Master Printer can boost your shelf presence and lift sales

Outlook Group is a G7 Master Printer with specialized processes, color matching software, and quality assurance steps to ensure colors match from proof to print, from press to press, and run to run. In order to achieve the IDEAlliance G7 Master status, Outlook Group trained with IDEAlliance G7 Expert consultants to proof and print using the G7 Methodology. The IDEAlliance G7 Master qualification mark means that we use the most modern technology, techniques and process controls and standards required to produce high-quality printing.

Are you experiencing color matching challenges across your labels, flexible or paperboard packaging? I’d be happy to consult with you on the best way to resolve the issues and get your brand looking picture perfect on shelf!

Jim Woller - Outlook Group 

Author: Jim Woller
Market Development Manager, Folding Carton
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