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Can a Better Tactile Experience Boost Product Sales?

Packaging design is the number one tool that brands use to sell their products directly from the store shelves. It can tell a story in many different ways, and the goal is for that instantaneous “story” to result in the consumer transferring the product from the shelf into their shopping basket. 

Woman grocery shopping with headphones.

Which factors about packaging matter? All of them. Packaging must be informative, telling the consumer what is inside. It must conform to a range of industry and governmental regulations. It must be eye-catching, so it isn’t lost in all the visual “noise” of the endless retailer shelves. And increasingly, how the package feels in the consumer’s hand matters as well. Packaging texture is just one of many factors brands can use to set their products apart from the competition and encourage more sales.

Packaging Shape and Texture Can Work Together

Packaging shape can be a terrific differentiator in the retail environment. Obviously, it needs to fit on the shelf properly, but there’s still plenty of scope to work with packaging shape. A shape that is different, brand-relevant, and appropriate to the product can make a strong impression. But shape isn’t everything in terms of tactile quality, because the texture of the shaped object is important too. If it’s beautiful, yet feels unpleasant against the skin, people will subconsciously perceive the packaging as an obstacle they must decide if its worthwhile to overcome in order to buy the product. You don’t want that.

Men Appear to Care More about Packaging Texture Than Women Do

This is interesting: men are more attracted to the feel of a product’s packaging than women are. Just under 10% of consumers regard packaging texture as the quality that most captures their attention, and of this chunk of the consumer demographic, around 70% are men. Therefore, brands that market to men online are wise to find ways to convey packaging texture photographically. 

Sustainability Cues and Packaging Texture

Brown packaged coffee cups and food containers.

Sustainability cues conveyed through product packaging matter more now than they used to because people are more aware of the importance of keeping things out of landfills and recycling what they can. Recycled paper packaging has its own tactile feel, and that combined with labeling elements that talk about sustainability combine to give the consumer a “feel-good” experience when shopping. Brands that work toward sustainability while making consumers feel good about their own sustainability choices create a win-win situation with their packaging.

Packaging Texture Actually Affects Taste Perception

A 2012 article in the journal Food Quality and Preference reported on a study showing that the feel of a food’s container influences how participants perceived the taste of the product within! This phenomenon, known as “sensation transfer” is something that brands should consider, particularly when packaging single-serving food products like yogurt. These product packaging attributes objectively shouldn’t prompt any effect when it comes to product perception, yet they do. 

Perhaps counterintuitively, the tactile feel of product packaging affects consumer reactions to the product. In other words, when a packaging designer designs the “look and feel” of a package, it’s important that they not forget the “feel” part of it. Food packaging texture can convey many properties, from a product’s sustainability to how the consumer is likely to perceive the food within. 

The texture of food packaging should not be an afterthought; instead, it should be an element that is considered throughout design and production of food packaging to maximize sales. PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives; please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news!

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