Whoever said not to judge a book by its cover never walked the aisles of a grocery store! How do you choose what product to purchase if you’ve never tried it? Price may be a factor in your choice, but for premium products, perceived quality is more likely to be the deciding factor. Often the packaging design is what convinces a customer that your product is worth trying out. If you’re like us, you choose your wine, beer, salad dressing, etc. by the packaging or label first. Then, if it’s good, you keep buying it and become a loyal customer. So, what defines good packaging?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the one who yells the loudest (metaphorically) get the attention; but that's not always true. When everyone else is yelling, it’s often the one who whispers that stands out. When you look up and down the grocery aisle, if everyone is competing for your attention by being bright, bold and loud, your package could stand out by being minimalist. That doesn't mean it has to be boring and plain Jane, because many times its the small details that matter most. However, when a package is less busy, it can help the customer determine the important information faster. Understand what is important to your customer and get rid of anything superfluous. Your product's packaging should act as your salesman when you're not around to do the selling and brand story telling.
How many times have you rolled your eyes when a fast food commercial displays a beautiful burger with perfectly placed toppings and condiments? We all know that's not how it really looks in real life. By passing your product off as something it's not, you will ultimately disappoint your consumer, which leads to a bad brand image and disloyal customers. Recently, British grocery chain. When it was publicly revealed that those farms were completely fictitious, Tesco was left looking dishonest and foolish, thus losing the trust of their customers. If your product is high-end, make sure your product and packaging design looks equally upscale. On the other hand, don't try to pass off something cheaply-made as high-quality, that will just anger customers who will feel ripped off and lied to.
When you design a consumer-based product package, you must imagine it on a store shelf. Very rarely will the product be seen by itself, unless it's only sold online. It's likely your product will be stacked with many others on a table or lined up in rows on a shelf. Many times it's assumed that the most unique or oddly shaped package will attract potential customers, but you'll rarely be the person actually stocking the shelves. How will they fit? Will it get placed on the bottom shelf due to its size or shape? Will they fit upright on standard sized grocery shelf? Scope out the competition and potential environments. That way, you can imagine how your packaging will stand apart from (or fit in with) other similar products.
The choice of material used for your packaging is an important aspect to the overall design and should not be overlooked. Like the label imagery, the packing container helps tell the brand's story and what it stands for. Perhaps your company strives to be environmentally friendly. There are many options for recycled or compostable packaging to minimize waste and avoid landfills. If your product might find itself in a refrigerator, freezer or damp environment, will your packaging or label hold up when wet? While it's important that the material is cost-effective for your business, spending a bit more to help elevate your brand may be worth the investment. For example, a more expensive packaging solution that can be reused or repurposed could serve as continued exposure and advertising for your brand well after the product is used or consumed.
There are many variables to consider when designing your consumer based product packaging, but investing in smart, well-designed packaging will undoubtedly separate your product from its competitors and strengthen your brand.