The purpose of product packaging is obvious, right? When you’re buying a packaged item from the supermarket – maybe a dairy product such as cheese or milk, or even something for the bathroom, like hand sanitiser or bleach – you’ll want it to be packaged properly.
Product packaging, then, is important for protecting and preserving an item and making it easier for you to carry around. Sturdy packaging, together with the seals and locks on bottles, packets, boxes and other forms of packaging, help to ensure the product inside remains in the best possible condition to use.
So far, you might think, so obvious. And it’s probably true that the main purpose of product packaging is to protect – especially given that amid the pandemic, many of us are also buying a lot of goods and having them delivered a long distance. You won’t want the item you’ve ordered to be in terrible condition by the time it reaches you!
But product packaging is also really important for so many more reasons – so let’s look at just a few of them.
A lot of people dismiss the importance of packaging by saying, “it’s the product that matters”. But packaging can play a huge role in convincing us that a particular product does matter.
After all, any product sat on the shelf in a brick-and-mortar store is likely to be competing with other products for your attention. An item that is packaged attractively – perhaps because the branding and colours used are pleasing to the eye – is likely to be picked up by curious shoppers more often than items that aren’t packaged attractively.
But it’s not just about catching the eye. If window-box or other transparent packaging is used, the customer will be able to inspect the item more directly before buying.
In addition, there may be important information on the packaging that moves the buyer closer to a purchase. That might include instructions on how to use the product, or bullet points or images showing how buying the product will make the customer’s life easier.
It’s no wonder, then, that according to research by Ipsos, 72% of Americans agree that the design of a product’s packaging often influences their purchasing decisions.
While I’m on the subject of the information that a product’s packaging shows, another subject that such information must address, is safety.
Food products, for instance, should have a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date on their packaging, as well as a list of ingredients. Cleaning products, meanwhile, may contain toxic substances that will influence what the customer must do in order to safely use that product. These issues simply must be addressed on product packaging to help the user of the product to protect themselves.
Another key theme of the 2020s is corporate social responsibility. Customers want brands to believe in something beyond their bottom line, particularly when it comes to making the world a better place.
Indeed, according to Unilever research, a third of us (33%) now choose to buy from brands that we believe are doing social or environmental good. For many of these customers, the carbon footprint of particular product packaging will probably influence their decision whether to buy.
If, then, the packaging provides clear details about the packaging’s environmental impact and recyclability, the customer may be likelier to decide to purchase that product.
From the aforementioned Unilever, right through to manufacturers of packaging machines like KBW Packaging, there are so many companies and organisations that help to make product packaging what it is today. In short, product packaging isn’t something merely ‘superficial’ or ‘extra’ to the product – instead, it’s fundamental to the product’s appeal and success.