Graphic designers like me are often banging on about packaging. Because packaging matters people!
Let me tell you why.
Packaging is often treated as an afterthought. You spend months or even years developing your product. Prototyping, testing, refining and producing. You develop your sales plan and marketing strategy. You build your website and research stockists. Before you even begin it’s been a mammoth undertaking. And then there’s the packaging to think about.
A better strategy is to consider your packaging as early as possible. The type of packaging you choose and how it is designed can affect your product’s sales and success, at pretty much every stage of the product lifecycle.
Let’s look at some of the ways that packaging affects your product.
One of the most important functions of packaging is often overlooked – protection. The packaging needs to protect the product throughout manufacturing, distribution and purchase. We all know how irritating it is to purchase something and open it, only to find out it’s broken inside. Does your packaging effectively protect your product from physical damage, temperature, and spillage?
Storage and display
Your packaging needs to work with the way that your product will be stored and displayed. Keep in mind this affects the distribution, retail, and after-purchase phases. Does your packaging pack effectively for distribution? How will it be displayed in the retail space? (Online and offline.) How will the consumer store this product?
This doesn’t affect all products, but many packaging formats also function as a dispenser for a product. Think tomato sauce or dental floss. Does your dispensing system allow the consumer to use the full amount of product in the packaging? Does it make the user’s life easier in any way? We’ve all had that bottle of shampoo that won’t dispense anymore yet you can feel it’s still quite full. Ugh. (By the way, this is not a clever marketing tool to make people buy more of your product – it’s annoying and people will choose another brand next time.)
Packaging is a communication space between you and your customer. It should contain information about what your product is, what it does, how the product should be used, and why the consumer should choose yours over another brand. There may also be information that you legally have to include, like measurements, ingredients or nutritional information. This is also a space where you can add extra value for the consumer. Think recipes on food packaging, alternative uses for the product, or activities for children to do.
This is where a graphic designer get to show off. Packaging appeal is crucial to getting a consumer to choose your product over another. Does the product stand out on the shelf next to its competitors? Does the design and visual identity appeal to your target audience? How is the consumer going to feel every time they take this product out of their cupboard? I think we’ve all purchased a bottle of wine for it’s label alone, or chosen a brand of handsoap purely because the container is attractive.
Some packaging is thrown away after purchase. But a lot of packaging remains and is used as long as the product is, especially when it comes to food, beverages and toiletries, or what’s known in the industry as Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs). Research shows that product satisfaction is highly affected by packaging. It’s important to think of how your consumer will be using this product. Do they need a package that easily dispenses the product? (It’s hard to squeeze more dishwashing liquid when your hands are wet.) Do they want a product that is easily opened? (It’s annoying to struggle with a difficult packet only to end up ripping it.) Does your packaging allow the consumer to use the whole product? (Dental floss that ends up shredding and you’re unable to get to the remainder is frustrating.) Is your packaging aesthetically appealing so the user is happy to have it on display in their home? Will the consumer love your product and buy it again? Will they recommend it to their friends?
What about environmental considerations?
Packaging is bad, right? Nope – it can be beneficial. The right packaging can help to decrease the carbon footprint of a product, through being lighter or smaller for distribution. And the proper protection of products can reduce wastage.
The mainstream consumer is (finally) beginning to take environmental considerations seriously. Thank you David Attenborough! People have wisened up to excess plastics and non-recyclable or reusable packaging. Not only is eco-conscious packaging the right thing to do, it’s what consumers in 2020 are seeking. Have you removed any unnecessary packaging from your product? Is your packaging recycled? Is it recyclable? Is it biodegradable? Is it sourced locally – what’s its carbon footprint? (Remember that biodegradable packaging that comes from the other side of the planet might not be the most environmentally-friendly option.) Could it be smaller? Lighter? Does the shape, size and material of your packaging lend itself to being reused in some way? (A large, attractive jar is a welcome addition to many people’s pantry for storage.) Does your business offer a refilling option?
There’s a lot of things to consider when designing packaging, and it can be overwhelming. But I can help you consider all your options. If you have a product that needs packaging, or you want to reconsider how your current packaging could be improved, get in touch and let’s have a chat.
Jessica Croome is a graphic designer and branding consultant based in Perth, Western Australia. She loves working with brands who want to be bold. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or via my website to chat about your brand.