Label PRomotion | Tug-of-War Features Conservation vs. Informed Consumers

Finding more ways to conserve by minimizing packaging materials, including labels, is often coming into direct conflict with consumer needs (and rights) to complete, accurate, and readable information about the product. The issue is compounded by increasing demands on labels and accompanying information (e.g., inclusion of multiple languages).

So far, the biggest casualty seems to be legibility. Even the youngest eagle eyes out there will have trouble reading two or four-point type required to put all necessary information on a label.

A recent article in notes, “The Council and its members advocate for a lifecycle approach to packaging and start with the fundamental principle that good packaging design prevents more waste than it creates.” At first glance, that seems like a tall order. It does on second glance, too.

Doing ever more with ever less. What can be done to give consumers the information they need in a readily readable and convenient way without compromising the conservation movement? Here are a few ideas that merit exploration:

1. Install reading kiosks in the store featuring magnifiers that can facilitate the reading of small type. This may sound somewhat elementary, but it at least provides a relatively low-cost way for consumers to figure out what’s what on a label. It’s also a promotional tool for the retailer to address the surprisingly large group of consumers who are weary of trying to decipher small label type.

2. Include QR codes or similar technology on all labels so that mobile devices can read more detailed information about the product, its ingredients, cautions, claims, et al, in a variety of languages—whether or not that information already is included on the physical label.

3. Look at label function and design (as was discussed briefly in the previous article discussion about promotion versus protection on labels). What is the most imperative information that needs to be on the label? This well may prompt a pitched discussion around promotional elements versus important consumer protection verbiage. In the end, to the most reasonable extent possible, make sure you’re acting in the best interests of the consumer first and foremost.

Once the information “hierarchy” has been established, figure out the best ways to place the information so that it will be as prominent, convenient, or accessible as possible. Is it a redesign of the label? Might it include a restructure of the label size and shape itself or include additional verbiage on a sticker attached to a portion of the container not typically used for information management? How about creating graphics that make the most important information stand out dramatically from everything else?

4. Inform the marketplace early and often. Through all relevant channels, from digital platforms and social media to more traditional forms of communication such as direct mail, educate the public about your products. While this isn’t a panacea for point-of-purchase challenges, an educated marketplace sets the stage for comfortable buying. In turn, this can lessen the burden on labels to do the job.

In addition to social media, target mainstream media periodically with informative articles discussing issues pertinent to the product category. Expert advice articles in particular can work effectively with trade media. Generally, these offer helpful information without being overly self-promotional. (This column is an example.) Always consider repurposing such articles into blogposts, et al.

The label tug-of-war will continue for the foreseeable future. For product manufacturers, the best outcomes will revolve around achieving the best use of the least amount of label space.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is president of Lusky Enterprises Inc., a marketing communications and content development company. Since 2008, he has worked with Lightning Labels, a Denver-based all-digital custom label printing company, as a content developer specializing in expert advice articles. Lusky presents common-sense ideas grounded in doing what’s real and right for managing and enhancing public image.


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