Case Study: Design and positioning from Shikatani Lacroix helps VH Sauces stand out from competitors

Case Study by Jean-Pierre Lacroix RGD, President, Shikatani Lacroix Design Inc (SLD)

SLD enjoys a long-standing relationship with ConAgra Foods, creating the previous design for its VH Sauces, Canada's leading Asian sauce brand. The first redesign, executed in 2008, created a strong platform to provide greater shop-ability and differentiation at shelf level while making both the identity and packaging current. With category growth and increased competition, ConAgra felt the brand required updating to reinforce its leadership position within the sauce category. In 2013, SLD was retained to build on the previous design.



While appealing to both men and women, VH Sauces were targeted to moms who do the primary household shopping and represent the lion's share of sales in the supermarket. Mothers are looking for easy solutions to provide diversity for family meals and VH Sauces provide a great platform to complement chicken, beef and pork meals. 


Concept / Design Process

Our strategic approach consisted of reviewing the entire Asian meal category as the lines between East and South Asian meals were blurring. The category had also significantly increased with new competitors and format offerings such as meal kits. The challenge was to ensure VH Sauces remained relevant and visible, as the wide range of varieties and sauce categories were not typically merchandised together, leading to brand fragmentation at shelf level. To effectively compete with private label and new premium brands, the packaging needed to reinforce that VH Sauce is a premium brand with quality ingredients. The design process took into consideration a range of potential brand personalities and hierarchies of communication that were validated through consumer research.



The client was extremely involved throughout the design process, providing great insights and input on what should be taken into research. The research consisted of a qualitative study that explored which design options best met the brand position criteria. A new proprietary bottle shape was also designed, forming an integral part of the branding study.




The new redesign has been met with strong trade and client support. Research results clearly support the new packaging's ability to reinforce and support an authentic and quality brand perception. The new design is currently being rolled out to various supermarket chains and early sales results are exceeding the client’s expectations.  


Designer Takeaways:

  1. Design to a position - When you start your design process, ensure that you have a clearly defined brand position with supporting personality traits, essence and value proposition. The goal of any designer is to ensure the executed design builds differentiation and creates relevance for the given target audience. A well-defined brand position is critical to ensuring these are met.
  2. Shop-ability is key - Most design presentations take place in a meeting room and not in a store environment, which can lead to making the wrong design selection. It’s important designers explore how the design options work on shelf in the real world, where competing brands and location on the shelf are critical to what works and what doesn’t from a design perspective. 
  3. Seeing is believing - It’s hard to visualize a brand position. Providing clients with an iterative process that explores a range of design options is critical to helping clients make the right decision. It’s also important that the various options are not different shades of the same concept and truly represent different and distinct iterations of the brand position. Only by exploring a range of design options, each with its own unique approach to articulating the brand position, will the designer help the client understand the nuances of effectively leveraging the brand’s position. 


Client Takeaways:

  1. Have a well-defined brand position - It is uncommon to receive a client brief that is tactical in nature and not grounded in helping support their brand position. In some assignments we have implemented, the organization lacked a brand position and clarity of direction, which makes the evaluation of design options difficult and very subjective.
  2. Think like a customer - Unless you represent the largest purchasing demographic of a given brand, it’s important that you gauge your personal biases as they may not represent the tastes and aspirations of your target group. This becomes a significant challenge if the brand is targeting a younger generation and the client does not fit the customer demographics. 
  3. Be open to risk - The days of incrementalism are gone and customers are looking for significant changes in their design. It is very important that customers notice the investment that clients make in the redesign and more importantly that it connects with them on both a cognitive and emotive level. 


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