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Product packaging is an experience. That’s precisely why packaging structures influence customer behaviors. There’s a visceral, emotional and subconscious perception that takes place within seconds of seeing product packaging for the first time. While people generally aren’t even aware that this “snap decision” processing is happening in their brains, brands can lose a sale if everything doesn’t add up. Here’s how much time a brand has to make an impression:

  • The average customer spends 13 seconds per item when making purchasing decisions in stores.
  • When shopping online, the average consumer spends 19 seconds meditating on each purchase.
  • Most online shoppers make their choices in just 10 seconds!

That means that brands have 20 seconds to woo customers if you’re looking at it generously. One of the most important aspects of the first impression is product packaging. Let’s talk about how good packaging creates a good three-dimensional experience for customers!

1. Good Product Packaging Creates Excitement

An effective packaging structure looks like it would be fun to pluck from the shelf! It should entice customers to reach out to “join in on the fun” by placing it in their possession. How exactly do brands achieve this? The packaging should look like it contains an experience. A good way to do this is to use bold colors and imagery. Fitting the actual product into its package using clear, see-through components can give customers the sensation that they are almost touching the product without barriers. Of course, it’s also important to use sturdy, secure packaging that appears rigid enough to be handled without being damaged. Delicate packaging that looks like it could “fall apart” with the slightest touch is intimidating. It also stops customers from picking up an item.

2. Good Product Packaging Triggers the Compulsive Drive

When done right, packaging makes customers feel like they just “have to have” a product. Doing this properly depends on the product being housed in packaging. If you’re packaging something like perfume, showing off the curvature of the bottle by allowing part of it to be exposed can help to drum up excitement because the look of a perfume bottle is one of its biggest selling points. Color can also play a role in creating packaging that stimulates the urge to buy! For instance, using red in packaging graphics or art can increase feelings of desire and urgency.

3. Good Product Packaging Adds a “Premium” Element

Crisp, high-quality packaging is one of the most effective ways to create subconscious messaging about product quality. Customers generally assign a higher value level to rigid packaging. When packaging looks “expensive” from the outside, the underlying message being conveyed is that the contents are valuable. In addition, the level of detail given to packaging conveys the idea that this obsession with quality and attention to detail will carry over into every aspect of the actual product. Thick, high-quality packaging is a great way for smaller, newer brands to become distinguished in a crowded aisle full of established competitors. In fact, impressive packaging may be the only asset that smaller brands have if name recognition has not yet been established. A product with attractive packaging will get a stronger second glance once a customer has narrowed down all of their options to a select group of finalists. What’s more, pricing a product the same as competitors while outdoing competitors in packaging can make a product appear like the “better bargain” when customers do a split-second economic-value assessment.

4. Good Product Packaging Creates Positive Feelings

Selling a product means selling a feeling. When designing packaging, it’s important to create an experience that reinforces satisfaction at every level. Here are some ways to create packaging that stirs up feelings of satisfaction:

  • The packaging is the appropriate size for the product.
  • The packaging evokes and reinforces feelings and attributes that a customer wants to be associated with. This can be things like classy, energetic, natural or authentic.
  • The packaging can survive a shopping cart, journey in a trunk and odyssey from the car to the house.
  • The packaging isn’t excessively wasteful. While customers may not be able to tell how environmentally sound a package is when they pick it off the shelf, they will know that being stuck with excess packaging materials that cannot be recycled is insulting. Studies show that customers dislike companies that are wasteful. You can bet that a customer won’t be “fooled twice” when it comes to buying from a company that creates unnecessary waste.

The most important emotion that brands should focus on is satisfaction. In addition, brands need to avoid any packaging techniques that foster feelings of guilt. Excessive packaging that leaves a customer with a pile of waste that they are responsible for after making a purchase is the fastest way to create negative feelings like guilt. One final thing to know when it comes to creating positive feelings using packaging is that customers are increasingly “turning against” plastic. Using plastic in your packaging can send a negative message to customers who are concerned about the environmental impact of plastic use. While plastic may be unavoidable for certain perishable or delicate goods, switching to eco-friendly alternatives like corrugated boxes and kraft paper can go a long way in terms of avoiding consumer guilt.

5. Good Product Packaging Knows Its Audience

This is where brands need to be intensively focused on designing packaging that fits the right customer profile. Nailing the niche in product packaging is especially important for up-and-coming brands because the name recognition just often isn’t there yet. What’s more, even logo recognition isn’t strong enough for most brands that haven’t broken through to “household recognition” status yet. Brands that can’t rely on “fame” need to design packaging that is so perfectly locked into their niches that it speaks directly to customers with just a glance. An example would be a company that sells luxury products. Getting in the running with established brands that are positioned on adjacent shelves all comes down to creating packaging that conveys luxury. This can mean using cursive font, adding gold lettering, and relying on understated shapes that don’t make it seem like the brand is “trying too hard.” A brand that is trying to edge in as an eco-friendly option may want to focus on using “rugged” options like kraft boxes with green lettering.

6. Good Product Packaging Is the Right Fit for the Product It Holds

Packaging should tell the story of what’s inside. It can be jarring to try to make sense of what a product is intended to do when the packaging doesn’t send the right cues. What’s more, ambiguous packaging that isn’t the right size, shape, or theme for a product can make it feel like a brand is concealing what they’re selling.

Packaging structures should function appropriately based on what’s inside. For instance, food products should have packaging that appears both easy to open and easy to reseal. Brands also need to plan around knowing when to make a product seem easy to open versus knowing when to make a product seem secure. For instance, parents may be turned off by a simple, inexpensive toy that is trapped behind dozens of zip ties that can’t be opened without tools. By contrast, parents may not feel comfortable buying a more expensive toy that is rattling around without any security features in place. Security signals can also be important when it comes to food and personal-care items. Simple seals that indicate that a product has not been opened can be enough to boost buyer confidence.

Choose the Right Packaging Structure to Convey Your Product’s Unique Value

What emotions do you want your product packaging to convey? Always remember that effective packaging invites customers into an experience. Selecting packaging that isn’t tied into your product’s value, purpose or unique qualities robs your brand of an opportunity to win against competitors in that “snap decision” sequence that happens every time a customer makes a purchasing decision.

Powering your brand through packaging begins with selecting the right packaging material. Our team is here to help you find cost-effective, durable packaging that can be tailored for your unique product. Specializing in durable, attractive packaging for in-store and online retail, we can introduce you to the latest eco-friendly and sustainable options. Many of our customers are able to package their full product lines in highly resilient packaging options that happen to be made from both recycled and recyclable materials. Book your consultation today!