Selling the Product: The Importance of Packaging in Design
By: Kayla Shaw, Creative Content Producer
We have a running joke in my family surrounding birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, really any gift of any type. The joke isn’t about what the gift is, but what the gift is wrapped in. Over the years my family acquired multiple boxes from Vineyard Vines (#NotSponsored). The boxes are durable, have some weight to them, and have a metallic closing. They are a dream to wrap with nice crisp edges.
On Christmas morning, if you were handed one of these boxes, you immediately knew upon receiving it. No other box wrapped so nicely or felt so strong. When I receive one of these boxes, I instantly form a huge grin because I know the best gifts always come in this particular box. After we packaged a gift for a friend in one of our prized boxes we found out that he had tossed the box in a fire as kindling. It was a heartbreaking loss for the family.
All of this to say, keep an eye on the boxes you love and more importantly, packaging is crucial when it comes to design.
I knew I was receiving a nice gift when I felt the sturdy box. The same idea applies to products on a store's shelf. When a consumer sees well-built packaging, they assume the product is of high quality. Not only does a product with excellent packaging look more appealing and attractive to the eyes, but it distinguishes the product from the competing brands. I would argue that the packaging of a product is just as important, if not more important, than the product itself.
There are a few things to consider when packaging a product. First, packaging should be an experience. Color, fonts, and texture play a role in the user experience. Great design goes a step further. Is the packaging a box or a bottle? How can the packaging convey a brand's story?
One of the most well-known brand packaging is Apple products. The packaging is designed to be clean, simple, and direct. From the way the box feels in the hand to how the packaging reflects the user-friendly experience of the product inside. Part of the excitement of buying an Apple product is the unboxing experience. The packaging represents the brand in its entirety. Customers drawn to packages are more likely to remember the product later on. In the case of my family’s beloved Vineyard Vine boxes, we continued shopping at the store.
A study conducted by Ipsos for the Paper and Packaging Board in 2008 surveyed 2,002 adults and found that 72% of Americans agree that the design of a product’s packaging influences their purchase decisions when selecting which products to buy, and 67% said the materials used to package a product influence their decisions.
Second, packaging should be functional. From the shape of the package to the material used for production. The most important function of a package is to effectively protect the product. The packaging should be trustworthy. Trust can be built through clear labeling and using quality material. If a company is green and eco-friendly, then the packaging should be recyclable and innovative.
Lastly, consider the message of the product. Packaging can have the opposite effect on a product too. The Plain Packaging Measures, established in Australia in 2011, directed that brand images, display logos, and promotional text be removed from cigarette packages. "Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. "It kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people." The use of attractive colors, eye-catching designs, and engaging characters on tobacco packages made smoking more appealing and attracted new customers, especially teens.
In February 2016, the Government of Australia published a post-implementation review of its plain packaging legislation. The analysis estimated that the packaging changes led to a 0.55 percentage point drop in prevalence over 34 months, equivalent to 118,000 fewer people smoking. Smokers of plain packs perceived their cigarettes to be of lower quality and less appealing than smokers of fully branded packs.
Any product can be thrown in a box with a label slapped on, but a great product has well thought out branding that demands attention. Package design gives consumers a sneak peek into what they can expect from the product. Packaging ultimately convinces consumers to make a purchase.