One of the most powerful mediums of marketing, which remains highly underestimated by many companies, is packaging design. Though it is encouraging to see how companies, in the past few years, have woken up to the importance of packaging design, it still remains a last minute affair for many businesses.
According to a study conducted by the Paper Packaging Board and IPSOS, 72 percent of the consumers are influenced by packaging design. The study also found that a staggering 71 percent of consumers were more likely to buy products that had cardboard or papers as their packaging material. A large portion of the consumers believed that cardboard or paper packaging made the product seem premium or high quality, the study found.
Packaging plays a decisive role in the branding process , especially in case of new products entering the market. The study conducted by IPSOS clearly suggests that design and the medium of packaging go hand-in-hand to make the product seem like premium and high quality.
Packaging design has a huge impact on brand identity as it brings the brand to life. Apart from all the visual identities of the brand, packaging design plays the most crucial role since it is what the consumers finally see. Brands are mostly concerned with classical or social media when it comes to advertising and as a result, less attention is paid to packaging design. Any form of advertising, whether classical or social media will prove futile if attention is not paid to packaging design: the point of sale.
While it is true that 60 percent of product decisions are made by the customers at the point of sale, a large number of companies still remain oblivious to the importance of packaging design. A substantial number of American consumers discover new products directly in the store, while only a small number cite TV commercials as their source of information. This leaves a huge gap and an opportunity for packaging design companies to flourish. Startups and established businesses can use this gap to take their brands to the next level. Brands can use the power of packaging design to improve brand identity and increase sales.
Packaging design is the process of designing and creating a product’s container and how it would appear to the consumer who might finally purchase it. Though a social media ad can do wonders for a product, a packaging design that fails to live up to the expectation of the customer may turn out to be catastrophic.
Good packaging shields the product but great packaging shields the brand. According to a study conducted by Mintel, a market research company, a third of US consumers believe that high-quality food packaging is a great indicator of good-quality product. In other words, unique packaging not only allows the product to standout from the crowd, it also contributes to the brand identity.
Packaging design is an extremely crucial element of the marketing mix and deserves to be on the priority list of any business. Packaging design creates an opportunity to promote a product’s unique selling point along with communicating the brand’s identity; therefore, underestimating the power of packaging design could prove to be a costly mistake.
Central to any effective marketing strategy is evoking emotions. Marketers spend hours on devising strategies which would instantly connect with consumers. Marketing strategies such as TV ads and social media campaigns remain highly sought after mediums by marketers to convey messages that would evoke emotions within potential buyers. Though these mediums are crucial to any marketing strategies, forgetting about packaging design as an equally powerful medium can be fatal.
Packaging design is a natural medium to evoke emotions in potential buyers. The survival instincts in humans have evolved over centuries, which is the reason the brain is compelled to understand the nature of attraction when someone looks at you. The primal survival instincts can be best utilized by packaging a product that would attract and trigger emotions within the customers. The smaller elements takeover only after the product catches the customer’s attention.
The packaging and the product are a unit and should be given equal weightage. Packaging is the promise that the brand makes about its product, therefore, it should allow the customers to get a feel of the product on the outside.
With over half the world spending its time online, it is a good idea to take packaging to every doorstep. Seen as a quality feature by digital natives, intelligent and appealing packaging score better over poorly packaged products. Since digital natives buy any product online based on the way it is packaged, the e-commerce industry lays more emphasis on the packaging. E-commerce portals could provide great insights into packaging designs.
It is extremely important for businesses to understand that the packaging represents the entire brand. The packaging not only informs about the product but is also seen as an extension of the brand. An ideal packaging should “express” through its content and design.
How should an ideal packaging design look?
Let us now shift our focus to what a packaging design must contain apart from the product. Confusing the potential buyers with information overload should be avoided at all cost. The “less is more” approach for packaging can greatly benefit a brand as far as the packaging design is concerned.
The company logo design is crucial in the packaging. Strategically placed logos can be both eye-catchy and communicate the brand image at the same time. A thoughtfully placed logo on the outer packaging can have a positive effect on the buyers.
A brand is not only associated with its logos but also with the colours it chooses. Keeping the company colours in mind, great packaging designs may be produced. Using the colours associated with the business also highlights a brand’s consistency.
Another key element in packaging design is the use of fonts. The brand logo might have different fonts then the ones to be used on the packaging, but it must maintain a sense of harmony. The packaging may also contain other images such as the country of origin and other trademarks.
Two thirds of Americans are attracted to cardboard and paper packaging, according to the research by IPSOS. The research leaves no doubt in the mind about the importance of packaging materials. Cardboard is made of 90 percent recycled materials and is used by top companies both in retail and e-commerce. Cardboards are a great fit for dry food, jewelry, cosmetics, and apparels.
With the rise in understanding of hazards of climate change, various industries across the globe have joined hands in becoming carbon neutral. The packaging industry is also following suit in positively contributing to reversing climate change by using biodegradable materials for packaging. The use of plant-based materials for packaging is the latest trend in the packaging industry. A brand that uses biodegradable material for packaging will not only add value to its business, but will contribute in reversing the negative impacts of climate change.
Once all the critical components are in line for packaging design, it is time to sew them together with unique packaging ideas. Packaging ideas may range from innovative product boxes with transparent windows to minimalist designed otterboxes and from vintage designs to culturally inspired designs. These creative packaging ideas have the power to pack a powerful punch.
Next in line is the unboxing experience. Companies all over the world are improving on the unboxing experience of the customers. In fact, unboxing experience could turn a customer into a repeat customer. The attention being paid at the brand is at its highest during unboxing. Brands are increasingly paying attention to improving the unboxing experience since it allows creating a strong first impression. A great unboxing experience certainly helps in turning them into loyal repeat customers.
Packaging design can be a very powerful weapon in the right hands but it can backfire if not used with caution. Designers and businesses must work together in avoiding mistakes that may cost them customers and worst, the brand image. Difficulty in opening the product or labels that are hard to read are some mistakes that must be avoided at all costs. Consumers also care about the packaging not being environmentally-friendly. A powerful marketing medium, packaging design should not be forgotten. Packaging contributes to the overall performance of the brand in terms of sales and leveraging brand image. Remember, packaging design is what lasts in the customers mind!
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.