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Is function the key you need to elevate packaging?

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As you probably already know from experience or customer feedback, there comes a point when you need to elevate your packaging. Even a great product needs a refresh to get more people excited about it and to grow in popularity. Working to elevate your packaging is an important step in the continual evolution of your brand. There are many variables than can be adjusted to elevate your packaging, but for the moment let's consider function. The functionality of your packaging (or lack thereof) could be the key to an improved consumer experience.

Identifying the need

First off, how will you know that function is the key? You need to do both internal and external research. Internally, what ideas do you and your team have about how function could be added or improved? What does the current packaging accomplish? Does the packaging do something now that it could be made to do in a much better way? Externally, you need to gather data from consumers of your product to find out what they think. Is there a common complaint about the packaging? What do they like about the packaging of competitors in the same industry? How satisfied are they with the current packaging? You can obtain answers to these questions through surveys, randomly selected study participants, and other incentivized response methods. What you should look for is a common theme among the answers. Maybe a lot of consumers said that they wished the packaging did a better job of protecting the product from damage or showcasing what was actually inside. Comments like these are all valuable pieces of information that you can work with, and they will help you to know it’s time to elevate your packaging with improved functionality.

Stay practical

It can be surprisingly easy to elevate your packaging through added function, and sometimes we overestimate the need for improvement. As one brand expert states, “Products are meant to be used. So attracting customers on the shelf isn’t quite enough - your packaging also needs to be easy to use. If your packaging makes your product hard to use or awkward to store, people will think twice about buying from you a second time” (officemax.co.nz). These aren’t difficult changes to make, and many of them will actually result in using less material, not more. Something as basic as a plastic handle on a juice jug could improve a consumer’s experience and raise their perception of your brand.

Functionality helps your business

Another way to think about functionality is in terms of the commercial benefits, not just the benefits to the end consumer. For instance, is the shape of your packaging easily stackable? Does it ship well in bulk quantities? Is there a feature on the current packaging that limits transportation? Improving these elements will make the package more functional for shipping and selling, which will expand your brand and ultimately lower the product cost for the end consumer. You business should keep looking for ways to maintain quality through optimization that lowers your per unit costs. You are paying for square footage on a truck or train to ship your product, so you should make sure you fit as much product as possible in that space.

Packaging for people

When you are managing a brand and designing new packaging or considering ways to elevate your packaging, it can be all too easy to forget that products are made for people. Keep this in mind and it will be much easier for you to create something functional. Everyone has had a personal experience with packaging that didn’t protect their product, was difficult to open, or awkward to carry. In each instance, this negative experience lowered their perception of the brand and decreased the probability of a repeat purchase. Chris Rosser of Cambridge Consultants advocates for functional packaging, even while recognizing the importance of an aesthetic appeal, “...there is also a place for engineering the packaging to improve user experience and minimize waste. With the right engineering, the packaging can make the product look and work better” (cambridgeconsultants.com). So, if it’s time to elevate your packaging, design something that works as good as it looks.

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