Strategies & Insights

February Design Forum Results

Posted: March 6, 2007 by
Ron Romanik

This edition of the Design Forum taps the insights of design professionals David Kendall, Lisa Simpson, Matt Cave, and Bob Aretz, in response to these questions: Are hangtags overused or underused? What categories other than wine and liquor would you recommend them for? How do you convince clients the expense is worth it?

David Kendall, principal and creative director of Kendall Ross brand development + design, Seattle, WA

Despite the fact that hangtags are very effective vehicles in attracting consumer's attention and conveying added value, they are often overlooked or eliminated due to the costs and inefficiencies they can cause in production. Because of this, hangtags seem to appear mainly on small, niche, or new brands where production runs are minimal or in gourmet brands where cost is not an issue.

However, hangtags are not merely throwaway marketing devices. The added expense can be well worth it in the return value they bring. Hangtags are highly effective at differentiating products and creating shelf appeal. Consumers also tend to associate prestige and perceived value with hangtags due to their extensive use in the liquor and wine aisles. This can be a key driver in boosting sales by improving perceptions.

As shelves and aisles get more and more crowded and competitive, it's important not to forget the some of the simple visual cues that consumers use in selecting one product from another.

Lisa Simpson, creative director in the New York City office of Pearlfisher Inc.

I don't think they are either underused or overused. I think where there is a bigger story to tell, brands often use them well. If their packaging gives them a reasonably big canvas to do this, then there probably isn't the need. It is where the primary packaging space is limited that tags are often employed.

I've seen tags used in many food items such as sauces to communicate recipes, etc., plus personal care products with sales promotion offers. Sometimes these can end up looking tatty depending on how the products are merchandised.

I think the expense is worth it if it is well designed, contributes to the overall design and people actually read it! I think if the tag is part of an overall look and feel (like the Tezon tequila bottle pictured here) that adds to the brand's core proposition, then it doesn't take much convincing.

Matt Cave, principal of Crave Inc., Boca Raton, FL

The use of hangtags as part of the packaging ensemble has become somewhat of a trend in recent years, however I don't believe they are overused. When a food or beverage brand is to be positioned as ultra-premium, hangtags can be highly effective tools for attracting attention and creating higher perceived value on-shelf.

Well-designed hangtags can be an excellent vehicle for additional communication beyond the primary packaging. For example, they can provide a great opportunity for marketers to include the finer points of a brand's story to further engage the consumer.

Bob Aretz, principal and creative director at Paragraph Inc., Philadelphia, PA

I think that hangtags are appropriate when used on apparel, sporting or recreational gear, specialty food items, and other products that are often sold at a higher price point or shelved for display. Hangtags provide a way to tell a brand story—or a story about the specific product—to engage and connect the consumer to the brand.

Also, hangtags can serve as a cross marketing tool to showcase or inform the consumer about other products that a particular brand offers. They can also be utilized to house additional information without infringing on the product design itself. Of course anything in excess is not good, so if the hangtag doesn't complement or enhance a product, then sometimes less is more.