The role of packaging

Packaging decisions in marketing

When we think of packaging, we tend to think about packaging’s role of being recognized and attracting attention inside a store. While this is a key goal of packaging, there are actually many other goals of packaging which need to be considered within packaging design.
These packaging goals are discussed below.

Protecting the product during transit and storage

Many products go through a manufacturing process then onto transport, sometimes via wholesaling and storage. Therefore it is important to consider the physical movement of the product.

As a result, in addition to the packaging of the actual product, consideration needs to be given to the packaging requirements for moving the product in bulk (such as, larger cardboard boxes and other external containers).

Enabling simple display and shelf packing

Products that end up in a store, particularly a supermarket, need the ability to be packed onto the shelf relatively quickly. While this probably does not impact the consumer, it is a key consideration of the retailer. A retailer prefer products that comfortably speak onto the shelf spaces and a quick and easy to pack

Adding additional benefits to the actual product

Packaging also has the capacity to provide extra benefits. For example, many sports drinks have a flip-top lid which enables the person/consumer to easily consume the beverage during sport. As another example, sometimes products sold in jars enable the consumer to reuse the jar. Therefore, some consumers may be attracted to certain product because of the extra benefits of the pack itself.

Being recognized as part of the brand

Packaging needs to quickly communicate the overall brand. This is particularly important if it is part of a large brand family that has strong brand equity. It is important that this brand equity is leveraged across as many products as possible.

Quickly recognized

In a supermarket situation in particular, consumers make their purchase decisions quite quickly, often based on habit. Therefore, these consumers are making reflex decisions and quickly grabbing a brand that they had bought before – often rely on colors and visual look of the packaging.

Whenever packaging is altered, there is usually some form of short drop in sales as consumer’s don’t necessarily recognize their existing brand purchase in all situations.

Communicating key benefits of the product

Packaging has a big role in winning business in-store where the consumer is making some form of evaluation decision and comparing multiple brands. Information on the packaging – which highlights key benefits and features – needs to be effective in order to generate that extra increase in in sales and market share.

Attracting visual attention in the store

In some shopping situations, consumers are browsing and looking for the right product – which tends to happen when there is no established brand that they buy. Therefore the visual look of the packaging – how attractive it is – actually forms part of the overall marketing communication and should win business in its own right.

Keeping the product safe for use

Food and medicine products in particular need to be kept safe to use through hygienic forms of packaging that keep the products are over a period of time. This is in addition to the logistics packaging requirements described above.

Communicating overall brand quality

The quality of the packaging itself can communicate overall brand quality. You possibly have read about how Apple worked very hard on how its smart phones should be packaged and how the overall package should communicate a pride of ownership.
The same concept applies across a range of product categories and more expensive looking packaging tends to communicate quality.

Communicate taste or flavors

This relates to food products – where certain colors tend to reflect certain taste or ingredients. For example, gold packaging tends to suggest a higher quality, green packaging tends to suggest environmentally friendly or healthy, red packaging tends to suggest something spicy or hot, and so on.

Product augmentation

Packaging can be used to augment a product. For example, cereal box packages sometimes have interactive puzzles or cut-outs for coloring in items the children. Sometimes packaging has interesting information to read, and so on.

Communication of brand information

Packaging can help communicate aspects of the brand. Sometimes packaging includes a slight history of the brand – and in more recent years the inclusion of a QR code which directs the consumers back to a promotional website page has become more common. The overall intent here is to further build brand equity.

Recycling benefits

In more recent years it has been common to consider the environmental impacts of packaging and a number of brands have moved to more environmentally friendly forms of packaging, which tends to appeal to some segments of the market and may become a decision factor in their purchase.

Related topics

Individual product decisions