A product’s identity is usually difficult to separate from its packaging. For example, when selecting food, consumers estimate its likely taste from the way it looks inside a see-through container or how it is depicted on the packaging label. The brain constantly classifies the objects it perceives—good versus bad, pretty versus ugly, sweet versus sour, etc.
Effective packaging strategies get products placed on the higher rungs of comparative scales. They help increase sales while reducing marketing and promotional costs.
The Qualities of Standout Package Designs
Packaging that tends to jump out at customers usually have the following attributes:
Most people are drawn to brands that go with fads or support relevant issues of the day. It’s the main reason why Korean cosmetics have become so popular recently and eco-friendly packaging never loses its appeal.
An air of mystery
Part of the excitement of purchasing a product is the anticipation induced by its packaging. When the iPhone broke away from its traditional white box and started going black, it stirred up a thrill in many loyalists. Talks relating the color to the gadget’s new technical features, performance, appearance, and many others flourished, hyping up this already marketable brand.
Attention-grabbing packaging designs elicit sentiments that make products irresistible to customers. Labels indicating that people are donating to charity with every purchase invoke altruism. Retro styles produce feelings of nostalgia. Wrappings of red and green during the yuletide season bring about joy.
Seasonal scents and labels that scream “Limited Edition” prompt “FOMO,” or the fear of missing out, which usually causes a flurry of compulsive buying in certain demographics. If your business is still growing, it is prudent to target these customers when planning your package design.
Reflects the buyers’ image
Colors and graphics let brands project a specific image that targeted buyer groups identify with. Expensive merchandise and electronic gadgets typically use sparsely designed black boxes to attract high wage earners and the tech-savvy. Pastels and frilly images appeal to young women. Green and earthy tones represent the tastes of the socially aware crowd.
Thousands of products compete for the average consumer’s attention, but only a handful will get it. Within that short time that they scan the store, their senses get overwhelmed and go on autopilot, leaving much of the buying decision to the subconscious. Therefore, every aspect of packaging that can give it visual saliency and magnetism—typography, a semblance of prestige, size, etc.—is crucial.
A package’s functionality appeals to three demographics, namely, the environmentally conscious, those into creative crafts and item collectors. Durable packages, especially if ingeniously designed, leave lasting impressions and are likely to invite repeat purchases.
Elements of Packaging that Influence Buying
Part of a good business plan is researching the market. Products don’t just sell by accident. They click because some features about the items being sold attract certain groups. Once you’ve figured out what attracts your customers, you can customize your packaging according to their tastes. When designing your product’s packaging, pay attention to the following details:
Colors have different meanings to different people. What may be pleasant to some may be repulsive to others. There is no hard rule in determining which hues would be appropriate for your packaging except to find out what whets your customers’ appetite. Choose the ones that do not just appeal to them but also reflect your company values and brand personality.
Colors are mostly responsible for visual saliency. This is why variation and blending can set off impulse buying. In future blogs, we shall talk about how powerful colors can be in shaping purchasing habits.
In one study, the package dimension was found to be as powerful as color in nudging customers to buy. Products with more than one size—like laundry detergent, beverages and printer inks—tend to sell more than if they were not. Size variation extends the market for these items to make them more affordable or attractive to those with lesser demands.
Accessible products, such as cosmetics and food, sell more when they are in durable packages that allow them to reach the customers undamaged. Those with attractive designs are recycled or become collectors’ items. High-end products, such as electronic gadgets and jewelry, frequently have simple, elegant-looking packages that can remain functional for a very long time.
For packages with the same volume, changes in shape alter visual attractiveness, perceived size and anticipated food taste.
The visual appeal of specific shapes depends on the buyers’ characteristics, such as gender and culture. Generally, shapes unusual for a product class attract more attention and often elicit impulse buying.
The perceived size or portion is affected by the height and width of a container. For example, a taller bottle usually appears bigger than a wider one, even when both have the same volume. People normally go for packages that give the illusion of having more.
The package shape was also found to influence the way people approximated food taste. Food in rounded containers is more likely to be thought of as sweet, while edibles in angular packages may be initially presumed to be bitter or sour.
Fonts used in labels also have their subliminal effects on people. Generally, Calibri and Roman are more appealing when imprinted on higher-priced items, especially if they are in the upper case, boldfaced or expanded.
Cheaper products are more likely to use Arial, Cambria, Helvetica, Serif and Sans Serif. Irregular and playful styles normally attract younger crowds, while script is associated with femininity, elegance and maturity.
Expensive products usually have fewer images, and their lines are straight or angulated. Inexpensive ones often have more graphical elements and curved lines.
Presence of special features
Packaging innovations usually attract more customers. These include portion control, easy-store, easy-carry, recyclability, tamper-proofing, easy-open, non-breakability, tamper-proofing, etc.
What Not to Do
Packaging experts caution against these other things:
- Flooding your labels with graphics and text—too much information wards off customers.
- Deceiving the customers with the packaging size—disappointment can make them switch to the competition.
- Skimping on market research—as with other aspects of business, your best guide is market temperament. Small, self-stamped surveys and feedback sheets can help you learn more about your customers.
Just remember, the kind of packaging that sells has attributes that appeal to people. A brief planning guide is presented here, but there is no definite rule in making designs other than to go with what your research tells you.
Every packaging element means something to your customers, so it is best to pick a style that represents your company values and, at the same time, resonates with current market sentiment.
Folkes, V. & Matta, S. (2004). The Effect of Package Shape on Consumers’ Judgments of Product Volume: Attention as a Mental Contaminant. Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 390-401. https://doi.org/10.1086/422117.
Pechey, R., Attwood, A. S., Couturier, D., Munafo, M. R., Scott-Samuel, N. E., Woods, A. & Marteau, T. M. (2015). Does Glass Size and Shape Influence Judgments of the Volume of Wine? PLoS One, 10(12), 1-10. https://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0144536.
Raheem, A. R., Vishnu, P. & Ahmed, A. M. (2014). Impact of Product Packaging on Consumer’s Buying Behavior. European Journal of Scientific Research, 122(2), 2014. http://www.europeanjournalofscientificresearch.com/issues/EJSR_122_2.html.