Judge A Book, Buy Its Cover: When Packaging Matters

First impressions matter—and they’re often made by your packaging.

Even toilet paper has to be pretty these days. It’s clear that a product’s design matters when it comes to selling it. Of course, the graphic design of its logo and the creative design of the ads used to market a product also matter a great deal. But, quite often, the item’s package is the very first thing that a potential customer sees when coming into contact with it. Yet, surprisingly, not enough companies put the same amount of time, thought, and budget into the design process for the package as they do when creating the product and its advertising. And the ones that do might not even be emphasizing the right aspects for today’s shoppers.

For example, today’s shoppers are capable of doing a great deal of research before they hit the store. This may lead to slightly less impulse shopping straight from the shelves, based on packaging alone. Instead, they may be glancing at their phones to compare reviews for quality, seeking coupons to get the best prices, or being impacted by other information-based factors.

And that’s when they make it to the store at all. Ecommerce is taking a bigger and bigger bite out of the market as people’s shopping habits change to reflect their busy lives. Having items you need, that you already like, delivered to your home on a regular schedule, makes things just a bit easier. When you shop online, you’re not looking at the outer packaging. You’re usually seeing an array of product images instead.

That being said, with ecommerce, packaging still matters—just for different reasons. Companies are now testing new packaging exclusively based on customers’ preference for buying online. Proctor & Gamble Co. is creating an Air & Assist line that makes it easier and safer for products to travel long distances and arrive at their destinations safely. Designers are thinking about how the product will look as it’s lifted out of the box, instead of how it would look sitting on a shelf. They’re also minimizing the weight of the packaging to reduce the costs of shipping.

Bonus Considerations

Another consideration when it comes to choosing packaging is cost. Clever engineering and design with packaging can not only help you cut down on costs during the production process, but also translate into savings for the customer, which can always help in a competitive marketplace.

Finding ways to cut back on packaging can also help appeal to certain audiences. Savvy shoppers may be attracted to packaging that’s eco-friendly, whether it’s created from recycled materials or is simply minimal to limit waste in landfills. Some boutiques boast zero packaging for any of their items, just to show how unnecessary a majority of packaging actually is (though, of course, this isn’t always the case, and works better for a small, independent store than a retail chain).

These are choices that can help your product stand out, all thanks to its packaging alone—or, perhaps, lack thereof.

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