Good design is the key to entering the premium world

We present an interview with Izvorka Jurić, titled “Good design is the key to entering the premium world”

Premium products, with their quality or specific components, bring added value to the customer, making them a premium product in their category. However, if the product is not designed in line with that quality, it will not be recognized as premium. It is no longer a question of whether good design of premium products will help achieve better sales – a premium product without good design in the Croatian market will not realize its full potential, while in the demanding global market, it cannot be placed without good design

 

Izvorka Jurić began her professional design career about 20 years ago. After graduating from the Design Study at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Zagreb, she, along with two partners, founded the creative agency TRIDVAJEDAN marketing communications, where she spent a significant part of her career. In 2011, she launched the design studio – Design Bureau Izvorka Jurić, which has since worked on various projects in the field of visual communications, bringing together diverse experts. Over the years, this design studio has won numerous international awards and recognitions, realizing a series of successful projects in both the Croatian and global markets. Izvorka often participates in educational design projects, mentoring and teaching various groups, from educational projects for elementary school students, training future designers – design students, to design and product development education aimed at professionals in different fields and business leaders. She was a member of the teaching team at several faculties within the University of Zagreb for several years and is active in the profession through various design and design education projects.

In which economic sectors do you offer your solutions, and what does your service portfolio encompass?

Our projects typically involve creating a comprehensive product or service identity and introducing it to the market. Sometimes, this entails creating an entirely new brand, while other times it involves repositioning through rebranding. We are primarily focused on product identities, covering the development of creative strategies and product stories, product naming and slogans, through to the design of the identity itself, packaging, and printed or digital promotional materials used to present the product in the market.

 

What services do you offer in the FMCG product sector, and who are your most important clients in that area?

In the FMCG sector, we offer the same services as in other areas, with the difference lying in the strategy and communication that need to be tailored to a broader audience. I would like to mention three examples that illustrate such different approaches.

This year, we implemented Brachia KIDS, the first Croatian olive oil designed for preschool and elementary school children, or parents who understand the healing and significant nutritional value of olive oil and want to introduce it into their children’s diet. The packaging design is based on an educational component – the packaging plays a crucial role in attracting, entertaining, and telling the story of this healthy product. Thus, olive oil nourishes the body, while puzzles and coloring on the packaging feed the brain.

The second example is DOMECA powdered sugars, a product line emphasizing the design of functional packaging, representing a novelty in the market in this category. It is a practical packaging that allows easier dosing of the product intended for the modern user who appreciates product quality and demands better packaging. The product is recognized, even though it is in a very demanding category.

The third example is ZOOBZONE, an innovative line of toothpaste consisting of 10 functional products, each solving a specific oral cavity problem (e.g., gum problems, tooth sensitivity, dry mouth, etc.) or targeting a specific group with specific needs (pregnant women, children under three, teenagers, etc.). The brand design and product identity highlight dynamic and active product action and functional effects through complex ingredient formulations and flavors that “burst” with refreshing dental zone action. As the two essential components related to dental hygiene and oral health are toothpaste ingredients and brushing method, the illustrations that form the basis of the identity and serve as visual elements on the packaging are painted with a toothbrush. Illustrations painted with a toothbrush directly communicate the importance of brushing, while the rich color palette of each paste illustration conveys the importance and richness of ingredients in the formula.

The list of clients for whom we work is quite broad – from very small entities like family farms, through small and medium-sized companies to large hotel chains or major manufacturers. However, we are most recognized for designing Croatian products or services for presentation in the global market or within the Croatian tourism offer.

In your opinion and experience, how important is packaging design for the success of FMCG products in the market?

I believe that design is an extremely important component today, especially for the first purchase and/or for products that do not have large budgets for promotion. For such brands and products, the brand and packaging design are often the fundamental means of communication. Of course, we are talking about good design, one that takes into account the specificities of the product, its positioning at the point of sale, and the characteristics of the target audience to create a design that will highlight the product compared to similar products on the market.

 

Good packaging certainly elevates the product above the competition and brings it closer to consumers who are increasingly conscious and insist on a high level of quality, as well as a satisfying consumption experience. In such conditions, how can premium products differentiate themselves in the market and achieve better sales?

Premium products, with their quality or specific components, add value to the customer, making them premium in their category. However, if the product is not designed in line with that quality, it won’t be recognized as premium. In this segment, design and branding become crucial elements of sales. Today’s consumer expects the product design to align with the quality of the product, where the external appearance, image, and overall presentation of the product are crucial factors in the decision-making process for premium purchases. It’s no longer a question of whether good design for premium products will help achieve better sales – a premium product without good design in the Croatian market won’t fulfill its full potential, while in the demanding global market, it won’t even be able to compete without good design.

 

Croatian producers of authentic products are certainly among those who have something to offer in the premium category. Do you think they are seizing this opportunity to a sufficient extent?

Croatian products have great potential in the premium segment within their respective categories, not only authentic products but all those that stand out with high quality, traditional production methods, organic farming, or a specific geographical location. We have many products that could be positioned in the premium segment, of course, with the correct communication of the product’s values and high-quality branding.

In my experience, there are more and more producers who recognize this potential and are willing to invest in product development in that direction, whether it involves an entire product line, a single product, or a special edition. Such a strategy focuses on strengthening the brand and gradually increasing the product’s price. It does not rely on a significant increase in annual quantities or mass production growth but rather on raising quality, precise positioning and branding, and selecting specific sales channels to reach target groups for whom these products are intended.

One of our most well-known designs in that segment is undoubtedly the Brachia brand, with a particular highlight being the ceramic gift packaging for Brachia Olive Oil. Among my personally favorite projects, I would highlight “Croatia in a Box”, featuring high-quality Croatian products in a special line of gift packaging, as it gave us the opportunity to express our vision of the Croatian identity in the tourism sector. Additionally, the brand and packaging design for Plasinia natural cosmetics from Lika holds a special place. A project in the premium segment that we are preparing to introduce to the public involves designing new products, medals, and packaging for the Croatian Mint.

We are currently working on two rebranding projects for natural cosmetics lines, rebranding of eco-food from the islands, and rebranding of hemp-based food and cosmetic products. All these products have been on the market for several years and fall into the premium or even super-premium segments in their respective categories. The reasons for rebranding include expanding into external markets, a step that wouldn’t be possible for these products without a redesign.

On the other hand, how do large manufacturers and retail chains that also offer their premium lines utilize this potential?

This segment is strengthening both among large manufacturers and private labels of retail chains. However, I believe that the potential for premium products is significantly greater for smaller producers and through placement in smaller or specialized retail outlets (specialty stores, souvenir shops, etc.). Fast-moving consumer goods that are distributed in much larger quantities must necessarily appeal to a broader audience and employ different communication strategies.

 

In addition to design, a significant topic in the field of product visual identity is the material from which the packaging is made. What trends are currently prevalent in this area, and what can we expect in the future?

The use of specific materials and the design or selection of existing primary packaging (bottles, containers, etc.) is an integral part of product identity design and is inseparable from secondary packaging (labels, boxes, etc.). Both components form a whole that protects the product, extends its shelf life, facilitates practical functionality for easier use, and communicates the desired brand values. In terms of material selection, there is a growing emphasis on choices that positively impact all these aspects of the product. The ecological component and sustainability are crucial, making “green design” a trend for several years. From a marketing perspective, various ways of personalizing packaging and connecting with communication in promotional activities or some interactive component linked to social media are still very relevant. There has also been ongoing development in smart packaging (nanotechnology) for several years, signaling product quality, fruit ripeness, recommended storage or preparation temperatures, and similar functional characteristics to the user. This segment will undoubtedly continue to evolve and be found on almost every product in the future.

Speaking of this, I can mention that by the end of this year, I have been invited to participate in the “Packaging Days” expert conference held within the PACKTEC center in Tunisia, a member of the World Packaging Organization (WPO). Experts from Arab, African, and Mediterranean countries will discuss the technical evolution of materials and packaging systems, raising awareness of the role of packaging in promoting international commercial exchange. I believe that at this conference, I will have the opportunity to learn about the upcoming trends in the next year.

The interview was originally published in JaTrgovac magazinu.
Interviewer: Goran Pavlović