Introduced in 2001, Market Pantry is one of ten private label brands available at Target that covers most food items imaginable. Spanning over 1,900 products, the brand brings in $1 billion or more in annual sales, despite its lackluster look. After some market research — for a lifetime supply of marshmallows I could have told them the same thing — Target decided to revitalize Market Pantry through its in-house design group, Target Creative, and partnering with the New York office of Pearlfisher.
“Turns out, guests loved Market Pantry’s great taste, quality and low prices, but they thought the packaging designs fell a little flat,” says Amanda Irish, vice president merchandise manager, Owned Brands. “Target’s known for great design, but the current, generic look and feel of Market Pantry just wasn’t reflecting that.”
Words like “basic,” “generic” and “plain jane” came up when guests described the current designs.
Ultimately, the team decided on a bolder, more joyful look for the new packaging. They incorporated bright colors against a consistent red and white base, and varied background patterns that can be customized to fit packages of all sizes and shapes. They also used fresh, crisp photography and more expressive fonts.
The old packaging was undoubtedly poor and had a late 1990s private label look that, although functional, what it communicated the most was “cheap”. While consistency is a positive factor for brands with hundreds of SKUs and Market Pantry was easy to spot, the system was almost mind-numbingly repetitive and everything looked like a default design solution, from the typography to the food photos. (Sorry, whoever-worked-on-these-at-Target-Creative.)
Starting with the new logo that features properly-done type-on-a-curve typography and a pleasing slab serif, the new look catches up with Target’s design reputation.
Working in close collaboration with the Target creative team, we set out on the monumental challenge of redesigning this vast and beloved range by developing a visual system that elevates and modernizes the product line, while simultaneously flexing seamlessly across each of the 100 categories.
With a bold but considered and retro feel, the new design system for Market Pantry is eye-catching, clear and flexible, allowing each SKU to be celebrated individually, or the immense line to live cohesively together.
The new system is vast and flexible with only a few key elements repeated that allow for additional exploration throughout the products. The logo is always at the top, usually centered, hanging like a literal label; red is the predominant color instead of the bland white; and Hoefler & Co.’s Knockout seems to be the favored (but not the sole) type family. The flexibility comes through a range of patterns that come and go in the background as necessary; fun typographic choices and inline treatments; a complementary light script font that can turn into badges (below); and really nice product photography.
It’s a testament to the redesign that the new look — vast typographic differences and all — is as consistent as the old look and its prescriptive formula. Overall, the new packaging instantly raises the perceived quality of the product inside it, regardless of whether Market Pantry’s marshmallows taste better or not than Kraft’s marshmallows and if Market Pantry’s look this good and are 15 cents cheaper… that’s a win for design (and private labels).
Thanks to Nathan Wiewel for the tip.