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"WeListen" Blog

How Instagram Is Influencing CPG Packaging Development

Brands help people express their identities. Brand attributes become part of consumers’ identities, especially when those brand attributes are made visible to others, and Instagram happens to be an excellent platform for that.

Person holding a newly bought shoe.

The images and videos posted on Instagram are people’s “digital possessions,” and like physical possessions, these Instagram posts can be considered as extensions of the individual.

Alongside the phenomenal growth of Instagram, secondary packaging of products has emerged as a status feature. As a result, the physical and tangible branding elements of secondary packaging give brands new opportunities for promotion through social media sharing. As a result, brands across CPG categories are putting more strategic effort into CPG packaging development.

What Does Secondary Packaging Represent on Instagram?

Secondary packaging is like other elements of the typical Instagram photo. It is nothing less than a visual representation of the psychological association between the Instagram user and the brand. In other words, the packaging you can see in the frame after the unboxing of a new product drives home the association between the Instagrammer’s self-identity and the product brand. 

There’s meaning in secondary packaging as seen on social media. It may be considered a status symbol, a souvenir, and in some cases, even an art form. It is almost always a communication tool that projects brand meanings as well as the user’s identity and self-concept. That’s a lot of power for a box that’s usually meant to be discarded!

Combining the Functional with the Psychological

Brands realize the opportunities that social platforms like Instagram represent, and many of them have designed packaging specifically with Instagram in mind. Makeup brand Glossier has made a special effort to make its packaging Instagram-friendly, delivering products in boxes that are simple, colorful, and fun. Combined with a lively brand voice, Glossier has picked up over one million Instagram followers. 

Cell phone with icons displayed.

Companies that use Instagram influencer marketing campaigns are often taking advantage of the cultural phenomenon of unboxing. They know that the look and function of the packaging contribute to the spike in sales that often follows successful unboxing videos. And the unboxing trend has raised customer expectations of packaging, even if they don’t share their every purchase on social media.

Bottom Line: Brands Are Taking Packaging More Seriously

Instagram and other visual-friendly social media have prompted brands to pay more attention to their product packaging. The rise in e-commerce has also had a profound effect on how brands design packaging. Much of today’s packaging must not only stand up to the physical demands of e-commerce, but also the psychosocial realities of a world where a single photograph can prompt people to make purchases.

Add to that increasing concern about packaging sustainability, and it’s clear that the packaging industry has its work cut out for it. The 2019 L.E.K Consulting Brand Owner Packaging Study bears this out. Ninety percent of brand owners across all CPG categories say that packaging is important to their brand’s success, and they assign it more importance than they did just one year ago. Three-quarters of brands surveyed say they plan to spend more on packaging in the coming year. 

Specifically, they’re adapting packaging to fit consumer demand for more convenience, an increase in “premium” products, and demand for more customization. And when they make it look great on Instagram, so much the better! 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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