It’s true, I buy things because the packaging is beautiful. Being an advertising and marketing major, you’d think I would know better. The thing is that I know perfectly well I am being sucked into the brilliant ad campaigns and smooth and stylish packaging, and I have absolutely no problem with it. I love collecting things for my own gallery of inspiration, so sometimes I will buy things solely for this reason.
Your packaging is the most crucial part of your product because it is the piece that comes face to face with your customer, and in that brief moment that you get their attention while they’re scouring the shelves looking for what they want or need, your packaging is responsible for whether or not they buy your product. The bottom line is:
Your packaging needs to sell your product.
Now, depending on what your product is, this can be a tricky task. Simply going to the store to pick up a bottle of wine for example, can be extremely difficult. For me, at least. When it’s my turn to go to the store, my friends know that I will come back with a selection of wines simply because I love the labels. And if they turn out to be good then I will buy them again. So that being said, we can revise our previous statement:
Your packaging needs to make the initial sale, and then the quality of your product is what will bring the repeat customers.
When you’re industry is saturated with hundreds, if not thousands, of similar products, it makes it extremely difficult to break through the noise and be seen by your customer. This is where your packaging needs to serve it’s core purpose – to sell your product – so that your customer picks up your product as opposed to your competitors’ that could be sitting right next door.
Which brings up another thing to take into consideration – where and how will your product be displayed in retail locations? Unfortunately, you can’t really control this, but it’s another reason why your packaging needs to pack a punch and get noticed.
Now, there are many elements that need to be included on your packaging. The basic and most necessary ones are your Product Identity, Net Quantity, Product Description (optional and usually depends on the product), UPC Code (or Barcode), and Second Language Translation, which applies mostly for us Canucks up here in Canada. Not only do you have to incorporate all of these elements into your design, but you need to do it in a way that the brand messaging of the company is prominent and in line with their branding guidelines, while creating something unique and different that will stand out from the crowd.
There are so many reasons why your packaging needs to be well thought out and you can find much more information on Wikipedia, and there’s a really good article here on brandchannel about Packaging your Brand’s Personality, but the one thing I really want to emphasize is that the one crucial part to creating effective and attractive packaging material is to DO YOUR RESEARCH.
This is hand’s down the most important step to take before you even start designing. What I like to do first, is draw up some preliminary sketches and get my initial concepts on paper before I start my research, because once you start looking at what’s out there you might get side tracked and your initial idea may morph into something else without you even realizing it. Once you’re done that, go out and research similar products. Go direct to the retail stores (if you can) and ask yourself the following questions:
1 / How are the products being displayed?
2 / What part of the packaging do you see first?
3 / How high/low are the shelves and how will that affect the visibility/readibility of the packaging?
4 / What trends do you see happening in the designs?
5 / What is the competition doing?
As long as you take the time to do some proper research and ask yourself the right questions, taking into consideration the wide range of product display techniques, you will have the basic information you need in order to start designing effective packaging material that will sell the product. Here are some examples from my own inspiration gallery:
Reference: Brand, Sartorial by Penhaligons, Pareje de los Bancales, Stiegl Haus Beir, Hot Dang, Good Co Cafe, The Bitter Chocolatier, Level Ground Trading.