Choosing and designing packaging options is often described as the ‘fun part’ of product development. It’s easy to get carried away with the beautiful packaging designs you often see on Pinterest or Instagram. Packaging can really make a basic product look spectacular. However, is putting so much time and effort into packaging worthwhile?
The amount of attention your packaging gets should depend on the type of product and market you are targeting. Here are some situations where I think there really needs to be a considerable amount of time, effort, testing and attention given to packaging choices and design:
Where it physically stores the product
By ‘physically stores’ I’m talking about make-up, liquids, foods etc. where the packaging has a vital physical role. It needs to stop leaks and retain freshness of it’s product. In these cases you need to ensure the packaging will keep the product safe during storage, sales and shipping. You need to ensure the material of the packaging meets safety standards. For example, you may require sterile containers. I’ve previously worked in the beverage industry and we had to use glass bottles only. We also had to ensure the lids used would seal the product correctly (for shelf life) and even measured the torque required to open the lid, so that it wasn’t impossible, but also so that it didn’t open too easily (such as during transportation, or by customers simply handling the product in store).
Your product is at the premium end of your market
If, for example, you sell $100 children’s Italian leather specialty shoes, I would anticipate they would come nicely boxed, and not in a loose polybag without any printing on it! I’m not saying your packaging needs to cost the earth, but it should look the part for the product you are selling. Usually this means spending money on a good designer who can direct you on the most efficient way to achieve the look you want. Expensive wines for example usually have labels printed on more premium paper stocks with lovely embellishments. They also use heavier glass bottles, so that when you pick up that $80 bottle of wine, you feel like you are part of some exclusive club. It’s about making the consumer feel special about their purchase. Remember it’s about the experience, not just the product.
Your market is extremely saturated
Packaging can be a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Particularly in a saturated market. It works great when you also have physical shelf space in a store. Think about recent visits to the supermarket, do some products just stand out much more than others? Using a different shape pack is often a great way to stand out.
Sometimes you can’t give your packaging the time, love and $$ that it needs!
If you’re restricted by budget you should keep your packaging simple but effective. Have it well designed upfront. You are better off using the money you have to get a good designer who can help you create effective packaging that will reduce your ongoing production costs. Some ideas could be reduce number of colours used, choose inexpensive materials, use small amounts of materials (eg. small tags or labels) so you can print and produce it cheaply. See my top 5 packaging considerations to make sure you cover off the basics.
I also believe that in some cases, the packaging isn’t that important. If you sell online and your product is amazing, there really isn’t any point in having amazing and expensive packaging. For example, I bought a premium children’s play mat a few months ago. I loved the product. Being quite large it was delivered in a plain brown box which was just sticky taped shut. Doesn’t bother me one bit as the product is perfect and was exactly what I expected.
Be practical about your packaging decisions. If packaging is key for your product, then consult a good designer and give them a solid brief. They will be able to direct you on the most efficient and effective way to package your new product.