What packaging and restaurant visits have in common

Remember the last time you were faced with deciding on what to eat in a new restaurant. While many of us roam the menu for a stunningly long time we often struggle to pin down that one, best, option. While multiple dishes sound mouthwatering and compelling, the choice is hard to make. Once settled and ordered we often remain unsure – we eyeball the plates being served to the tables around us. Maybe the king prawn salad would have been the better choice after all…?

There is one thing a good waiter does to salvage the doubtful guest: After taking the order, he compliments their decision.

“Excellent choice – that’s my personal favorite as well.”

 “Great – You will love our homemade pasta, the dough is made with free-range eggs.”

The guest will feel more at ease with his decision, even though this meant suspending other meal options. Undisputedly, if the wait staff just mumbles „excellent choice“ to honor every guest’s pick, we quickly catch on and the salvage turns into a worthless restaurant phrase. However, the staff’s words will surely resonate with you when they offer you an explanation, why you have just made an excellent choice or – even better – when they make it personal.

FMCG packaging in its role as silent salesman, will not be able to compliment on your purchase intention on a personal level. On traditional supermarket shelves, universal is as personal as it can get. Packaging thus must provide reasoning just as the waiter in a restaurant would do. Packaging has evolved from a necessity to transport and protect the goods to a marketing canvas that is to persuade the shopper – in most cases that only holds true of the front side. The backside is often cluttered with information legal departments care more about than products managers or consumers.

Every so often, when a consumer is unsure of the difference between two products in the supermarket – and let’s face it there are many categories where offers appear to be similar at first glance – he turns to the backside for a close examination, determined to find out which product best serves his need.

While the front side has brought the item into the relevant set, the backside must now close the deal, just like the wait staff complementing a meal decision with relevance and reasoning. Whenever we place products advantages on the backside of packaging, we should remind ourselves of our own restaurant visits and salvage the customer: Let’s use this opportunity to convince him, that this product is superior to the competition as we provide him with the reassurance he longs for.

If the product is part of a range that only has minor differences like sizes or volumes, we should embrace this fact and alter the backside texts depending on the usage situations that are most relevant for these particular sizes. 

Next time we create backsides let’s cherish this last opportunity to convince the consumer when the front facing couldn’t do the job all the way.


About Julian

Julian is an expert in the field of product-psychology and marketing strategy. Having worked as a project lead for the renowned Cologne-based rheingold salon, he revealed numerous secret product-logics and enabled manufacturers to refine their product positionings and marketing strategies.

As project lead, he worked for well-known food and beverage, consumer goods, as well as the entertainment companies. His clients included a Swiss-based multinational chocolate manufacturer, an award-winning national newspaper as well as a Champions league football club.

Working in the product management team within the MELITTA® group he manages the European food bag portfolio of the TOPPITS® /ALBAL® brands and acts as a Consumer Insight Expert.

Academic background

In elementary school, Julian founded a fish farm, even advertised his product – only to get shut down a few weeks later by the trading supervision department due to missing paperwork. Today, rest assured, his paperwork is in best order.

Julian holds two master degrees one MSc. ‚Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship‘ as well as  a MSc. in ‚Business Administration‘.

His outstanding take on the products of our everyday life and their hidden impact on the consumer is rooted in studies of in-depth business psychology (B.A.).

Taken together this unusual cross-over expertise in psychology, innovation management and business enables companies to re-understand their products and helps them to ‚get their story straight‘.


e: mail (at) julian-schaefer.com
p: +49 221 98652377