The Power of Packaging: How Innovative Design Enhances Consumer Experience

Business owners already understand the importance of visually appealing package design that stands out from the competition. With the right colors, graphics, wording and materials, companies can reach new customers and build a positive brand image.

Packaging design is crucial to customer experience (CX). The best ones are cutting edge enough to stand out but still understand consumers’ pain points. Some details help users connect emotionally with the product or leave a lasting impression of the brand without clouding the message.

Innovative designs drive sales in a variety of ways. Here is how companies can use packaging to attract new customers and keep current ones returning.

1. Know the Market

Mordor Intelligence projects the packaging market to reach $1.33 trillion by 2028, with an average annual growth rate of 3.94% between 2023 and 2028. As growth occurs, package designers will try new innovative trends.

For example, focusing on a particular color, material or smart packaging is likely. With artificial intelligence (AI) entering every phase of daily living, brands will probably start adding tracking and other information into package design for better analytics and faster logistics.

Understanding what others are doing with their package design and how it applies to a specific industry is critical to enhancing the consumer experience and leaving a lasting mark.

2. Make an Impression

How is the consumer’s experience when they open the product package? Most people have seen at least one unboxing video. Part of the overall fun of buying something new is opening it and revealing what is inside. The process of uncovering the purchase should be fun.

As designers create innovative new package designs, they should consider how the user opens it. If the box is too hard to open, the user might grow frustrated and have a poor impression of the brand.

If the package is not secure, the item inside might be damaged, impacting the feelings someone has about their purchase.

The only way to ensure the unboxing process is fun and as hassle free as possible is to test it thoroughly with people of various hand sizes, mobility issues and thought processes.

Pay attention to what other companies do with their product package designs. The more types of packages the staff tests, the more information they have to pull from when brainstorming their designs.

3. Update Packaging Frequently

Almost 75% of purchase decisions happen on the spot. To keep up with new design trends and stay ahead of the competition, companies must upgrade the look and feel of their outer packaging.

At the same time, it must remain recognizable for people who already buy the item so they can find it easily on a store shelf.

Knowing the mark of when things need redesigning is challenging. Some signs it is time to upgrade packaging include:

  • Sales begin to slump
  • A competitor just upgraded theirs
  • It has been a long time since the company last upgraded designs
  • Trends are different
  • The packaging needs to reflect brand values and philosophies better

Company leaders should know when it is time for an upgrade. Do not delay once identifying the need for a new design. Test design options with control groups to see what the target audience likes most.

4. Elicit a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) Response

Many people have FOMO when it comes to limited editions of anything. They are worried someone else will have an amazing experience and wish they had the same. The words “limited” set up a ticking clock encouraging them to buy now before the stores run out.

Designers can use FOMO to create limited-edition product packaging. Make the packages themselves collectible. For example, you might create some with a hardshell casing with unique artwork. Number the boxes to show there are only so many available. Send users on the hunt for each style.

Brands can tap into the power of FOMO by talking limited-edition designs up on social media. Email a note to current customers allowing them to pre-order some of the designs or encourage them to post images with a particular hashtag as they find different versions.

5. Fix Typography

The typography in product packaging design can make or break CX. If the consumer cannot read or see the text from a distance, they may grow frustrated, or feel as though finding the item is too difficult or takes too much time.

The typography choice can evoke emotions in the customer, so consider whether to use a modern or traditional font. Also, view it from different angles and distances to see if it is readable from far away or in smaller print.

Think about some of the most popular brands in the world. Their packaging usually has heavy strokes, and is either serif or sans serif. Some examples include FedEx, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.

Rather than use decorative fonts, the designers stick with easily recognizable, simple designs that grab attention without distracting from the packaging’s purpose.

People begin to recognize the look of the Coca-Cola wordmark when they see it repeatedly on cans of soda. Aim for a similar situation with the typography on branded product packaging.

Consider the tone of the product and the typeface that is most likely to convey the intended message. Try to limit the number of fonts on a package design so as not to overwhelm the viewer.

6. Change up Colors

Using the brand’s color palette in package design is not particularly innovative, but it affects how consumers perceive the brand image. They will come to know the name and look for it on store shelves.

However, to recognize the item quickly, they often look for a pop of a particular color — for example, the golden yellow of McDonald’s arches or the bright red of a bag of Doritos chips.

Establish a color palette for the brand and the product, and stick with it even as designs morph and change into something new and modern. People will immediately recognize a bold blue or silver and black design, even as visual elements or typeface changes.

Keep in mind designers can also add a pop of color to any design without detracting from the brand style. A splash of neon pink or a stripe of eye-catching red might just grab attention on crowded store shelves and elicit an emotional response from customers.

Accents here and there offer an opportunity to tap into trends without taking over the entire design.

Think about the pain point of the person searching for the product. What emotions tie to the problem? Identify color options on an emotions color wheel and add the hues to counteract any negativity.

7. Go Eco-Friendly

Around 73% of shoppers say they would change what they buy to protect the environment. The power of packaging allows designers to choose the materials used in the design.

Opting for sustainable outer packaging and inks that do not create harsh chemical spills in waterways gives a brand a green boost. The company reduces its carbon footprint and does something positive for its image, employees, and customers.

Not only will businesses embracing eco-friendly packaging practices do something positive for future generations, but they may attract like-minded customers. Those intent on spending money with brands with the same philosophy toward Mother Earth will even pay slightly more.

8. Add Interactive Features

Another thing designers can do to ramp up product packaging is add interactive features. Print a QR code the person scans to visit a social media page or a fun game online. Include a hashtag for them to take a snapshot with the product and post on social platforms to enter a contest.

If the business offers an app that interacts with the product, include information on downloading and using it to get the most possible users.

Items that come to mind are the Webkinz toys with the tag. The user goes to the website using information from the tag to play fun games and bring the toy to life. Almost any product could tie to something interactive in the modern age.

9. Add Value to the Product

People notice when a company puts extra effort into the design of a product package. It shows they care about the total customer experience and whether the person enjoys even opening the box.

Paying a bit more attention to the details of packaging can make an item seem more upscale. The customer will feel as though they are getting great value for their money and be more likely to return and tell others about the product.

Pay Attention to Every Detail

Enhance brand identity by honing in on the tiniest details. Does the color black pop darker than the charcoal of the original design? Perhaps fading the background a bit more would make the text noticeable from a distance.

Find ways to enhance brand image through even the smallest adjustments. The power of packaging lies in how the consumer perceives it and the impression they walk away with.

About the Author!

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

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