by Laura McLoughlin | Featured Contributor
High-quality packaging helps to keep your product safe while it’s in transit. But it also carries out an arguably more important function: it helps your product to stand apart, and to cement your brand in the mind of your customer-base. Not only that, but you want your customers to snap pictures of your product, and if it’s not pretty or striking enough for Instagram, you’ve missed a valuable opportunity to spread your brand. Let’s examine some of the marketing functions of your packaging, and see how you can ensure that it performs in every respect.
Your packaging will need to tell everyone what’s inside. This information comes in several parts. One might be the name of the product, and a few of the key features. The next might be the name of your company.
But a company’s name isn’t enough to make an instant impression. If you were to look at the logos for Sony, Philips and Toshiba, a raft of associations concerning reputation and build quality might immediately spring to mind. And these particular logos are just the name of the company written in a particular style; just think of the Apple, McDonalds or Aldi logos and how much meaning they get across with just a simple image.
Every item you sell is an opportunity to impress your brand onto what might grow to be a loyal consumer. Display your logo prominently on the package, and you’ll help to sell not only the product in question, but every product you decide to release in the future.
The visual aspect of your packaging is just one of several. Let’s think about another of the five senses for a moment: touch. Certain materials exude quality in a way that’ll help to cement your product as worthwhile before your customer has even removed it from its housing. Glossy cardboard is marginally more expensive than the standard stuff, but brands like Apple exploit it fully, thereby maintaining their reputation for high-value products every time one of them is unveiled.
Aside from the glossiness of the packages’ surface, we should also consider its weight. Weighty packaging might add a little to the cost of shipping, but it’ll protect the goods inside more capably, and reassure customers that they haven’t bought something flimsy and cheap when they pick it up.
The texture of your packaging can form an integral part of your brand’s identity. Think about a high-quality leather or cloth-bound hardback. It doesn’t just look fantastic – it’s also a pleasure to pick up and place on the shelf. If you’re shipping a high-quality product, or one that’s designed to be a gift, then this isn’t something you’ll be able to overlook.
Bright colours help to draw your customer’s attention. That’s why the chocolate bar section of your local petrol station looks so lurid – it’s filled with products looking to exploit someone’s impulsiveness. As though it were needed, there’s plenty of research to prove definitively what we all already understand: bright colours force us to stop and take notice.
But there’s a reason that not every product is packaged in luminous purple. Just as a whisper can often be more forceful than a shout, sometimes it’s best to err on the side of subtlety when it comes to packaging. You’ll need to appeal to the expectations of your audience. For example, customers shopping for high-quality wines might look for a more, reserved, sepia-imbued label rather than a bold, orange one, or one which comes in a box, rather than loose. Similarly, a power-tool that came in a pink-and-purple spotty box might be dismissed out of hand as too toy-like, and not serious enough for the task at hand.
Supermarkets have already gotten wise to this. They exploit the prestige we apply, unconsciously, to black-and-gold trim, and package standard products in this sort of packaging. Given a blind taste test, most people would find it difficult to distinguish between a standard pack of mince pies and a premium – often because the two are the same, repackaged!
If you have a solid understanding of your customer’s expectations, then this is exactly the sort of psychological quirk you’ll be able to exploit.
Recently, microprocessor giant Intel released their 9th generation series of i9 chips. These represent the pinnacle of mainstream computing, and so Intel deemed it sensible that they come in a distinctive dodecahedral box.
With twelve pentagonal sides, the i9 packaging is a little bit different than the more functional rectangular boxes on the market. It helps to establish the processor inside not just as a functional number-cruncher, but as a highly-desirable, premium product. In this instance, the shape of the packaging actually comes at the expense of functionality – since it’s difficult to stack boxes of this sort in a space-efficient way.
Of course, packaging like this adds a little bit to the overall cost of the product. In the case of a high-end piece of computer hardware costing hundreds of pounds, this cost might be justifiable. If you’re selling a £5 cutlery set, then it might not be!
The perfect packaging doesn’t need to be a drain on your resources, nor should it be considered as such. We’ve already discussed just how important your first impression can be, so don’t forget that your potential customers need to be sold on your product from the moment they lay eyes on it. Otherwise, they may not be intrigued enough to ever find out what is so great about it.