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Why Packaging Design is Important

When marketing a product, you have many factors to take into consideration. Everything from target consumer to the product aesthetics need to be analysed and looked at in order to make your product one of the 5% of new products that don’t fail(Yes, that means 95% of all new products fail...). The reason so many products fail is that the consumer doesn’t have the time to personally look at each and every product they choose to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the product, so they choose a shortcut method, and this is your products packaging.

Everything from the shape, color and logo on the packaging plays a huge part in attracting a consumer to your product over another. You can’t just slap a logo on a box, color it with your company colors and send it off. There’s actually a lot of science and psychology behind how packaging works and draws a consumer in. Psychologists have identified what it is that causes products to jump off the shelf and into a consumer’s life, looking at everything from the printing of labeling to the packaging as a whole. 

Much like a bee is drawn to a bright flower, we all respond differently to various colors, images and shapes, meaning instinct overrides all logic and allows attractive packaging to influence our buying decisions. Product packaging is designed purely to appeal to the consumer, with end goal of persuading you to make a purchase. Sure, it’d be great to presume all products are actually sold because of their quality. However, the truth is, consumers base their buying decisions on packaging color,shape, messaging and practicality without them even realizing it.

Color is a huge influence on your consumer; it draws their eye and is the first impression your product will have on them. Different colors stimulate different responses in your subconscious mind - the part of the brain responsible for the automatically triggered feelings and emotions that you feel when confronted with a new situation. Without consciously thinking, your mind connects the color to a memory, emotion, or even a feeling. A few of the associations your brain automatically makes when confronted with different colors are:

  • Red: Associated with strength, warmth, excitement, aggression and even blood.

  • Blue: Associated with intelligence, trust, logic, coldness and lack of emotion. 

  • White: Associated with hygiene, purity, barriers, sterility and cleanness.

  • Green: Associated with nature, rest, boredom, stagnation and peace.

  • Yellow: Associated with fear, irrationality, confidence, friendliness and creativity.

  • Black: Associated with sophistication, security, coldness, death and glamour.

These colors are then used by the marketer responsible for marketing the product, who uses each color to stimulate whatever desired feeling or emotion they want you to feel when you see their product. For example, white is usually used in the packaging of cleaning products because your subconscious automatically connects white to cleanness, where-as brown would be less effective as it is connected with nature and dirt, you don’t consciously think about whether white means clean or not but your mind registers it with a glance and makes a decision for you.

Next, the shape of a product’s packaging. This communicates with a consumer, and while simple rectangular packaging is effective at its job, certain shapes are perceived as resonating with certain consumers. For example, angular packaging is said to be masculine and powerful, and resonates with men more than it does with women - Brands have now started to take advantage of this:- in an attempt to increase their appeal to men, beer brand Hasseröder changed the neck of their beer bottles from the standard round shape to a pentagon shape. While angular shapes are more masculine, curved shapes are seen as feminine, but still resonate with both masculine and feminine consumers - AuthorA.K. Pradeep wrote in his book “The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind” that curved products and packaging “resulted in a 15% increase in sales”. According to Valerie Folkes’ and Shashi Matta’s book –“The Effect  of Package Shape on Consumers’ Judgement of Product Volume: Attention as a Mental Contaminant”, unusual shapes have been seen to cause consumers to over-estimate the quality of the product being sold, causing them to think the product will be better than it will based on just the shape of the packaging.

While shape and color are more visual effects, packaging has to be practical in the real world. The packaging, ultimately serves two main purposes, it has to market the product to customers and contain the product within effectively. Packaging also needs to be easily transportable, store-able, disposable, without becoming an inconvenience to the consumer. If you package a toothbrush in a box the size of a large flat screen, it’s not very practical. While attractive packaging is going to draw a customer to your product, functionality is going to contribute to the sale too. A survey conducted by GfK in 2015 found that “two-thirds of American consumers agree that packaging must be environmentally responsible” in order for them to make a purchase. So while your packaging might be the most attractive in the world and might jump right off the shelf before all other products, if it isn’t practical and functional, you could be hurting sales more than you are helping them.

One of the last things that will influence consumers is messaging. Messaging is just as important as overall design. While only playing a small role in the sale of your product, messaging literally has about 7 seconds to get all the information about your product across to the buyer. From a single glance the consumer must be able to answer a few simple questions about the product, such as: “What is it?” & “Who makes it?”. If your messaging can answer these questions, people are more likely to take a little more time to pay closer attention to the product and actually analyse it. No-one is going to buy a product if they can’t identify what it actually is or what it’s supposed to do. Not only does messaging help the consumer identify your product but it can also help identify your brand, if a customer likes your product and can identify your brand they are more likely to notice any other products you might sell. While creative messaging will draw the eye, simple messaging is readable and precise.

Even these seemingly small things, can make a huge difference in the packaging design of your product and can even have an impact on overall sales seen by your product.

Author Bio:


Paul Ward is the Managing Director at Direct Foam and Packaging (since 2013) & Direct Packaging Solutions (since 2001). Direct Packaging Solutions is a privately owned supplier of packaging materials, protective foam and postal products to the trade, industry and end users, with three sites open across the UK; Stockport, Deeside and Blackburn. With over 25 years experience within the packaging industry, having started out as a Sales Representative at National Packaging from 1991 to 1996, later moving on to become Sales Manager of Cheshire Adhesive Tapes and Packaging up until 2001, at which time he became Managing Director at Direct Packaging Solutions.Today, Paul Ward is in charge of ensuring client and customer satisfaction, as well as absolute top quality control at Direct Packaging Solutions.

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