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Successful packaging design is only as good as how well it connects with appropriate target market segments. Even a brand with one product aimed at a specific age demographic can reach different market segments. Here's a look at the correlation between addressing a target audience through effective packaging design and achieving market success.

What Designers Should Know About Target Markets

One of the biggest responsibilities of the packaging designer is to know the target market their design must reach. Target markets may seem simple on the surface, but can be rather complex when analyzing the data due to market diversity and unpredictability. It's uncommon, for example, for a successful food company to only pursue one narrowly-defined segment of consumers.

At the same time, a target market of any sort implies a section of the population that can be defined by specific characteristics. Over the past century the concept of a target market has changed in profound ways due to technology. Last century one-size-fits-all marketing was the norm, as companies relied on the numbers game that goes along with advertising on traditional media.

The internet has changed the way businesses perceive and select target markets. Google has become the main tool consumers use to find the products they're looking for, based on keywords that describe niches. These days there are conglomerates and broad food manufacturers that own a wide range of product lines, which puts them in the lead for search engine visibility.

So a brand can now associate with many different types of niche products, while any given modern product is often portrayed in marketing to be the most unique item of its niche. The packaging designer must understand the importance of both the niche and the people who are attracted to it.

Target Segments: Age and Gender

Every target market can be divided into basic demographics such as age and gender. Young adults and kids are often the most active consumers for certain products, especially snacks and beverages. Meanwhile, older adults represent a more mature segment of the market that is more cautious about spending. Demographic details can be collected through email or website surveys.

The apparel market has been structured with segments for men, women and children. The food and beverage industry, on the other hand, usually doesn't emphasize gender as a distinguishing demographic for its market segments, since males and females like many of the same foods. There are various ways to divide a market into segments, depending on the product and its appeal. Market segments, for example, might be defined by certain lifestyle behaviors.

While music and movies are carefully marketed to specific market segments, any given food product aims for a fairly wide market. People of all age groups, for example, like cinnamon. So a graphic artist can envision and create multiple images for market segments depicted by avatars as a reminder of the overall wide audience.

Broader Demographics: Income, Occupation and Education

Other demographics of a persona relevant to marketing include income, occupation and education. If the product is designed for wealthy people, the package design might convey luxury and premium quality. A consumer's occupation often defines the level of their disposable spending budget. The more educated a consumer is, the more likely they care about the ingredients in the food they're considering.

Some companies explore even deeper demographics of their customers, such as family size, ethnicity and nationality. Another field of study on market segmentation is psychographics, which categorizes people by attitudes, aspirations and values. Usually outside-the-box organizations are most concerned with this area of consumer psychology.

Creating Avatars to Represent Market Segments

Many graphic artists create cartoon characters that represent market segments for their own use to visualize their audience. The character concept is known as a "marketing persona" used by any type of business to better understand their customers. Some companies call it a "sales persona."

Developing various personas can be done by experimenting with different shapes for faces. The characters don't have to look like they belong on a TV series. Each one simply needs to reflect a specific market segment and should be given a name.


Packaging designers must sometimes know deep target market information to get a clear picture of who the product is meant for. Knowing basic demographic information is helpful, while the more the designer learns about the different market segments, the better he or she can deliver an appropriate package.

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[1]  "Product Development; Packaging Design (2015)", by Azhar Abd Jamil ,Ghazali Daimin, Ruslan Rahim

Topics: Metal Packaging, Packaging Design