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Packaging is a vital marketing element. It’s the thing that can make or break a product. Will the consumer focus on your product and buy it or move on to something else? The packaging will be a deciding factor.

Therefore, packaging should be a strategy and a solution, working as a vital component in a focused marketing effort.

Why packaging matters

Consumers do make snap judgements based on what they’re looking at. They look at a product, and its packaging says something to them. Packaging is eye-catching and inviting, and it’s critical for brand recognition. New products entering the market must find ways of making an impact instantaneously and triggering customers’ purchase behavior.

Figures show that 70% of consumers form an impression of a brand just based on the packaging of its products. 63% consider packaging almost as crucial as the brand itself.

For some brands, the packaging is more recognizable than the product. Think of the iconic Marmite jar.

Packaging as a marketing tool

Packaging is a critical factor in brand recognition, and therefore it needs to be consistent if you’re using it to build this. It helps customers identify the type of product you’re offering. If, for example, it’s a premium product, then the packaging needs to reflect this. Packaging is part of the product’s marketing messaging.

Key strategic marketing factors come into play when designing product packaging:

  •  Positioning

  •  Storytelling

  •  Communicating brand values

  •  Building trust

Good packaging is capable of influencing customer behavior in multiple ways. It presents the marketer with a blank canvas on which to place marketing messages, product information, slogans and straplines, and the brand logo, of course.

What makes good packaging design?

Packaging design is essential, and it must be good if you’re going to use it to market your products. Beautiful packaging design goes a long way to winning business. This applies to customers but also retailers – they want products that will fly off the shelves. Packaging design can help this happen.

What factors contribute to good packaging design?

  • Clarity – don’t make the customer guess what the product inside the packaging is; always be clear about the product and the brand.

  • Consistency – the packaging should reflect the brand and its values.

  • Functionality – if the packaging needs to protect the product as well as market it, make sure it does.

  • Practicality – ensure that the product’s packaging makes it easy to stack, display and deliver.

  • Sustainability – increasingly, consumers want packaging that is recyclable and cuts down on waste.

  • Color and typography – the visual design elements in packaging are crucial for its success.

Tips to improve your packaging design

The factors that determine good packaging design (see above) shouldn’t constrain your creativity. Look to how your packaging can differentiate your product and your brand while still performing critical and practical functions.

  • Does it align with your product and the market’s perception of it?

  • How can you make it stand out on the shelf?

  • Can you add something innovative to it without making it impractical or increasing your packaging costs?

  • Should you experiment with different materials?

  • Can you use sustainable packaging?

  • Will it add to the customer’s unboxing experience?

Unboxing carries considerable weight in packaging strategies. You have the phenomenon of the unboxing video, which can help create a real sense of anticipation about a product via social media. This particular packaging strategy can be especially effective for online retailers.

Unboxing can also contribute positively to the consumer experience if your product’s packaging opens unusually, for example, or uses packaging materials.

Types of packaging and their benefits

There are two broad categories of packaging:

  1. For retail

  2. For shipping

It’s for retail purposes that innovative and striking packaging design becomes crucial.

Common packaging materials include:

  • Paper and card

  • Glass

  • Plastics

Another material that has a history in single-use packaging is cork. Manufacturers are developing innovative blends of cork with biodegradable materials to expand their packaging potential. Paper and card are popular for packaging. They’re easy to apply branding to and they’re recyclable.

Glass is also highly recyclable and mouldable to different shapes. It has the advantage of being transparent so that you can easily see the product it contains. However, glass is not always an appropriate packaging material, being fragile and relatively heavy.

Plastics are increasingly problematic due to environmental issues, but they combine the transparency of glass with durability and versatility. There are more recyclable plastics and sustainable plastic alternatives on the market.

Discover more about the marketing potential of packaging by contacting us today.

Jenny Stanley, managing director at Appetite Creative.