Designers Lead the Charge in the Retail Revolution

Neenah Paper Classic Papers Promo; retail revolution

Although we’ve seen many huge retailers downsize (like the Gap) and some close altogether (Toys R Us), you’d be surprised to know that there was a 58% increase in store openings in 2017, according to a study by Fung Global Retail and Technology. Amazon even made the leap to brick and mortar through pop-up stores and by purchasing Whole Foods. Surprisingly, a lot of this has to do with Gen Z and millennials who prefer to shop in-store vs. online. Granted, they gather intel and find the items online, but then head to an actual store to make the purchase.

Neenah Paper Classic Papers Promo; retail revolution

This is good news for brands and designers who are marketing to these segments. Direct mail, gift cards and packaging still play an indelible role in purchasing decisions at the store. According to Liz Burnett, principal at Matchbox Studio in Dallas, “As consumer behavior changes, brands are starting to design packaging and in-store experiences with social media in mind.” She cites a study by Contract Packaging Association that says, “Nearly 40% of consumers say they’ll regularly share product packaging that is ‘gifty’ or ‘interesting’ on social media.” With that in mind, she says, “Thoughtfully designed packaging and collateral pieces entice customers to share products with their followers on Instagram, which can boost brand awareness and word-of-mouth.”

Neenah Paper Classic Papers Promo; retail revolution

Matchbox Studio was commissioned by Neenah to design the CLASSIC® Retail Revolution promotion which features a dozen examples of printed materials that can help boost retail sales in the luxury market. “In the luxury retail environment, details matter. A great deal of care is taken to make luxury brands look and feel great. It’s the little things that mean the most to a customer—right down to the paper choices a brand makes to elevate its message. With personal health and wellness markets growing ever popular, we chose to focus on four brands that illustrate consumer aspirations to look and feel great as well,” Burnett says.

“Today, shoppers are paralyzed by choice in almost every purchase category. Strong branding and premium paper can cut through the noise and help sell products. The product itself must be able to deliver on its promises, but the packaging and collateral alone can do a lot of the heavy lifting,” she adds.

Neenah Paper Classic Papers Promo; retail revolution

For the Neenah promo, the designers at Matchbox conceived four luxury brands that are influenced by major brands in the same category: The athleisure brand, Knetics, was inspired by Uniqlo, Lululemon, and Nike; the men’s apothecary brand, Pack, was inspired by Kiehl’s and C.O. Bigelow; Desert Mothers spa was inspired by Four Seasons and The Springs Resort; and Odyssey was inspired by Blue Apron and HelloFresh.

Below, Burnett explains the significance of each piece they designed for the promo.

Neenah Paper Classic Papers Promo; retail revolution

Burnett: The first section of the promo is called “How to Get Customers in the Door,” which has become an increasingly harder task as consumers are relying more on online shopping, so we highlighted three pieces to get them there and keep them coming back: a direct-mail postcard, a gift card and a colorful hangtag.

ColorCom has reported that “colors can increase brand recognition by 80%.” Once customers are in the door, a branded color alone can drive them to purchase a product. Imperial Red, a recent addition to the CLASSIC® Papers line, makes a memorable brand statement here.

Neenah Paper Classic Papers Promo; retail revolution

The next section, “How to Engage and Excite Customers In-Store,” demonstrates how proper branding paired with premium papers can excite and encourage purchases.



The featured pieces include an attention-grabbing business card that uses foil and Neenah’s memorable CLASSIC COLUMNS® finish, a product display card, and an interactive package produced on Stipple finish to help illustrate that shoppers often select products based on the look and touch of the packaging.

Neenah Paper Classic Papers Promo; retail revolution

Sending the right message at the right time is crucial. In “How to Spread the Word,” we wanted to show how premium papers can make memorable first impressions.



We designed a large event invite and envelope and a prism-shaped brochure filled with fictional spa treatments like “Vision Quest Meditation” and “Sweet Nectar Body Wrap” that could draw in customers who are interested in unique or VIP experiences.

In “How to Build A Following,” we created a meal-kit subscription service brand, Odyssey, to illustrate how online subscription services are building brand loyalty by using curated, personalized print materials.

Let’s move the Retail Revolution forward, by designing jaw-dropping print materials that draw customers in and keep them coming back for more!


The HOW Promotion & Marketing Design Awards has a category specifically for self-promotional projects, like those client gifts that promote your design business, your new website for your freelance business, and business card design and rebrands for your firm.

Don’t miss the extended deadline, April 27!

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