Updated: May 16, 2019
What does packaging do for my product?
What is great packaging? Think about the last time you purchased a product. A box of cereal, a new phone or even a new car. Now think about how that product was presented to you. Did it make a difference in your purchasing decision? Of course it did. We all want to associate ourselves with certain types of brands, and how those brands present themselves through packaging their products is at the core of great branding and packaging.
Packaging is the art and science of creating an impression in your customer’s mind in every way that they interact with it – whether it’s by sight, touch, smell or more. Packaging persuades your customers to purchase your product, and by extension creates an association about your brand and how it interacts with your customer on multiple levels.
A great example of the use of packaging to increase sales is McDonald's, the American fast-food chain. Suffering from stagnant sales for some time, even the iconic McDonald's decided to re-brand their packaging and redesigned their entire menu including their packaging. The goal is to help communicate their new “healthier food” message to the world. So far it’s received mixed reviews, further proof that successful packaging is about balancing the functional design of the package as well as how a customer feels about the product and design itself.
1. Form and Function.
First and foremost, packaging should be functional designed to suit your product, fulfilling a need such as protecting your product or facilitating the use of ease of the product. Product packaging should be able to enhance the product, not mask it – for example, Kleenex packaging allows the customer to pull one tissue out at time, or pen packaging that allows you to use the container as a pen protector. The product must also look good and help the product to stand out on the shelf of the retailer, perhaps even contained within a ready-built display that fits the space or aesthetic requirements of the store or boutique. A great package should look good either stand-alone or as multiples. All this is done while maintaining the brand recognition and presence that will enable your customers to recognize your product above anyone else’s.
Packaging allows the company to place pertinent information, onto the product, often helping the customer to make an informed decision. Having this information displayed in an aesthetically pleasing way can help your customers to find the most important information quickly and easily. For example information on test results, ingredients, how to use the product as well as price or storage could all be issues your customers need to know before making a decision on purchasing the product.
3. Competitive Edge.
Customers are often given many choices to choose from when looking for a product. If they have never heard of or used your product before, you have the opportunity to catch their eye via packaging. Communicating your brand image and values to the customer on your product packaging will allow you to stand out from your competition and will certainly establish your company’s brand promise firmly in the mind of the customer, encouraging them to buy and repeat purchase, generating loyalty and referrals.
4. Brand Recognition.
Packaging should stand out enough so that those customers who have seen the packaging before will know exactly what to look for the next time, no questions asked. If they can’t remember the exact name (as there are sometimes brand names that are very similar to each other), they will recognize the packaging immediately. A brand that is identifiable from a distance has a huge advantage over those that do not, especially if your product is not visually distinctive from everyone else’s product.
5. Product/Brand Loyalty.
Packaging allows your customer to have an immediate reaction, when they see it. They will remember the experience they had with your product the last time they used it. If it was a positive experience, that customer will most likely want to re-engage with that product. By exposing your product packaging via social media, your website, content marketing, or advertising, you’re also helping your customers to become aware of and recognize your product before they get to the store.