Choosing the right product packaging can be challenging because there are so many aspects to consider. Here’s an overview of crucial things to think about before finalizing any decision about which packages to pick.
Consider Your Budget
Your packaging budget is probably a top-of-mind concern as you investigate the specifics of what’s available. Polythene bags, cardboard boxes and glass bottles are some of the widely available packaging options.
Selecting extra features will affect your packaging costs. Adding a plastic panel to the front of a paper bag so people can see the product inside or making the package have a resealable opening are two things that will likely increase expenses but may be worth the money.
Many packaging providers offer bulk discounts, so placing one large order instead of several smaller ones could work out well for your budget. However, think carefully before submitting a bulk order for a type of packaging you haven’t tried before.
It’d be wasteful and frustrating to make a substantial investment in an untested package and realize it doesn’t meet your needs. Place a smaller order first and take advantage of bulk-order pricing later.
Think About Transit Needs
You should also determine transit time and conditions when choosing packaging materials. How far will your goods travel between the manufacturing facility and a retailer, for example? If you’re a small business that only distributes merchandise locally for now, it’s not as important to go with packaging that can hold up during a long journey. You may widen your distribution network eventually, though, making it smart to have a longer-range viewpoint.
Weight could also be a concern for packages sent across long distances. You can put more lightweight parcels into a shipping container and still keep the overall weight under what the cargo limitations dictate. Conversely, lightweight packages may not adequately protect fragile goods during shipment, necessitating selecting something more durable.
Are your products temperature-sensitive? Packages with insulating properties could keep such merchandise stable even in harsh climates that may be encountered during shipping. You should also think about printing temperature range requirements directly on the exterior packaging so any person handling the parcel is reminded of them.
Determine How to Reduce Customer Frustrations
Virtually everyone has purchased something and then used everything from scissors to their teeth to get to the stuff inside. Difficult-to-open packaging is often a theft deterrent, so brands often choose it for small electronics and other high-value goods.
However, packaging failures happen in other ways, such as if a person tries to open a bag of nuts in their car and finds that the bag splits down the side and spills snacks everywhere except into the hungry purchaser’s mouth. A 2019 survey of brand owners found that 90% of them agreed packaging is critical to success. The same research revealed that 57% are working on packaging that’s easier to open.
Think carefully about how you could best protect the product inside without making consumers grimace and grumble. Many cardboard boxes used for shipping have a strip a person can pull to create a neat entry point. The plastic bags of things like fruit snacks or candy that hang from display hooks often include small notches that make it easier to tear into the material. Using instructional phrases like Open Here or Pull Down can help, too.
Investigate How Your Packaging Could Support Brand Positioning
Brand positioning relates to the space your product occupies in consumers’ minds, and how they perceive you compared to competitors. Excelling at brand positioning means knowing what sets you apart, and helping people focus on those things. The right packaging could get you closer to your brand positioning goals.
Lush — the brand associated with fresh handmade cosmetics — understands this well. Its packages include stickers bearing the product’s creation and expiration dates, plus the name and a drawing of the person who made it. That approach ties in with how Lush takes pride in avoiding the mass production approaches that some competitors use.
A lotion called the Charity Pot comes in a plastic container bearing the name of the organization funds go to when someone buys that product. Any given Lush store has Charity Pots for various groups simultaneously. Brand devotees often find ones that align with the causes they consider most important. Corporate social responsibility is another hallmark of the Lush brand, so this tactic makes sense, as well.
Make Your Packaging Pique People’s Interest
People — and brands — only have a few seconds to make a strong first impression. That’s why it’s useful to think about the most effective ways to catch people’s eyes with the package style, text or a related factor.
What you choose to highlight typically depends on the product inside. If you’re selling a candle, the packaging might mention the approximate hours of burning time, plus how the strong scent fills a room but is not overpowering. Alternatively, Earth-conscious people buying a granola bar would appreciate how the product comes in 100% recyclable or compostable packaging and features all-natural, nutritious ingredients.
The idea is to hone in on a product’s attributes that are most likely to make people buy it, then think about how you could spotlight those characteristics through the packaging. You could also develop several possible packaging designs, then conduct market research to learn more about which ones compel people to purchase something instead of bypassing it.
Pick the Right Printing Method
A 2018 poll indicated that 63% of people said they were more likely to choose products packaged in paper or cardboard because of the reusability potential. The same percentage of respondents agreed that those materials made items seem premium or high quality.
When you choose materials, think about the options available to you concerning printing. Digital printing applies images and text directly to corrugated materials — such as cardboard mailing boxes. There are also fewer steps associated with digital printing. The speedy turnaround time is one of the factors that make this printing technique one of the fastest-growing options.
Printing a design directly onto a box before shipping could position your product to gain momentum due to the unboxing trend. People often film themselves opening new items, commenting on the packaging style, durability and functionality. No matter which printing method you go with, iron out the details about costs, minimum orders and how long it takes the company to change designs if requested.
Let Your Packaging Create Brand Ambassadors
The rise of social media has led to a significant increase in the number of people who use platforms to show off the brands they love. Some get paid for doing that as influencers, but many others do it purely because they want to spread the word about something they enjoy. They don’t care about not receiving compensation for those posts.
Have you thought about how to make your product packaging more social media-friendly and smartphone camera-ready? Rohto — a Japanese company that sells sunblock — reversed the lettering on the tube to make it readable. Front-facing smartphone cameras generally take mirror-image selfies. If anyone aims the camera at themselves while showing text, the letters look backward to people viewing the photo. Rohto solved that issue with the print design on its package.
Not all products need to have picture-perfect packaging. If there’s a chance of people using social media to post pictures of the items, it’s worth thinking about what you could do to make the option of snapping a photo especially attractive. You might use bold colors, an uplifting quote or eye-catching shapes. Those things help your packaging stand out while making people eager to capture it with their handheld gadgets.
Reduce the Packaging Used Without Compromising Protection and Handiness
Packaging must safeguard the product from harm before a consumer receives it. There’s a fine line between protecting products and using wasteful packaging. You’ve probably received a small, mailed item encased in a much larger box, plus a shield of bubble wrap, foam or other additions. Look into how you might make the package maximally protective without unnecessarily contributing to the planet’s growing waste collection.
A survey of European consumers’ thoughts on food packaging showed that 62% would pay more for food products with less plastic packaging. Consider the example of a baked goods company that places individually wrapped muffins into a plastic tray, then slides the treats into a cardboard box. Could it make a positive change by only using the tray and doing away with the wrapping? Perhaps, but there is no universally correct answer.
Confirm how consumers typically use your products. If they buy foods that eventually get packed into bags for people headed to work or school, wrapped, single servings make sense. They might not if people never or rarely take the items with them on the go. Concerning the protection point of view, think about moving toward plastic that holds up well during use but is readily recyclable.
Call Attention to the Things Potential Customers Need to Know
A 2018 study found that only 13% of consumers said food labels did not influence their purchasing decisions. With more choosing or receiving advice to follow specific dietary regimens, people are increasingly scanning the packages of consumables before putting them into their carts.
Informing customers through packaging extends to virtually all products. You might use a color-coded system to differentiate between natural and synthetically derived ingredients in cosmetics, for example.
Figure out what potential consumers look for in products. Print the information clearly on the packaging rather than making them hunt for it. You can also use the packages for advertising changes, such as an improved recipe or a bag that gives a person 50% more of something for the same price.
Prioritize Your Packaging Today
Well-chosen packages can help products emerge as strong competitors in an ever-crowded marketplace. Use these tips to feel confident about choosing the best packaging for your company and your consumers.
About the Author!
Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. If she’s not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.