Seven requirements imposed on packaging – why it’s more than inner values that count
The blink of an eye - that's how much time our brains need to decide whether or not we like someone.
It's the famous first impression we never have a second chance to make. That applies to facets beyond interpersonal encounters, too. And it's just as decisive for products.
As we meander through stores, products beam at us from every direction, vying for our attention like peacocks that fan their tail feathers at us. They hope that we perceive them during that tenth of a second and that they will appeal to us.
Products? Not so much. In reality, it's their packaging that sends us signals. So obviously, packaging must fulfil more requirements than "simply" protecting the product.
This article tells you everything that good packaging must do.
A look back
Glass from Egypt. Paper from China. Wicker baskets from virtually everywhere. The need to package goods dates back far longer than to the above-mentioned cradles of civilisation. The determination to properly store survival-relevant foods or to safely transport goods from A to B is probably as old as humankind.
Cultural developments and packaging technology have always moved toward the future in lockstep. Villages and cities were built. This automatically entailed growth in the demand for goods as well as clever solutions for conserving them and making them transportable.
A look at today
Apart from its conventional function, packaging has established itself as an essential marketing instrument. Without appropriate wrappers, we could neither transport nor store nor differentiate most consumer goods. It is not surprising that the famous four "P" in the classic marketing mix (product, promotion, price, and place) have been complemented with a fifth "P" for packaging.
The egglaying woolly dairy sow
If packaging were looking for a job, it would be driven to despair simply by looking at the job description.
Nonetheless: Packaging is often the last thing on people's minds. Companies invest considerable energy and resources in product development. They would be well advised to devote enough attention to packaging as well. Because ...
It must protect
Protection is no doubt the most traditional function of packaging. After all, we want to enjoy a flawless product. Apart from the product, it also protects people and the environment. Children, for example, need to be protected against exposure to harmful substances with tamper-proof packaging. No one wants a child to take a gulp from a detergent bottle.
A question that needs to be asked early on is which material will optimally protect contents, consumers, and the environment and whether additional protective measures such as child safety features are required.
It must portion (dimensioning function)
How heavy? How much? How large? The packaging makes it possible to offer products in uniform servings. The size selection positions a brand in a certain segment. While luxury brands tend to choose smaller volumes, another brand can occupy a lower price segment with larger packaging (family packs, for instance).
It must advertise (communication function)
T. Breitinger, co-owner and managing director of the BrandPartner AG agency says: "Good packaging is the best thing that can happen to marketing spend: a targeted investment in brand care and sales promotion with low scatter losses."
Packaging showcases your product to the world. It is like a silent sales agent â€“ like a small free poster at the point of sale... provided this opportunity is seized.
On the shelf, the packaging must emphasise the positive properties of your product and at the same time set itself apart from the competition, appealing to the consumer to purchase it. Packaging transports entire brand images.
The important factor: from the design perspective, packaging must always be authentic and honest. It must reflect the characteristics of the product: high-end products should rely on high-quality packaging. Because as you know: fine feathers make fine birds.
Mismatched packaging is like a person with a deceitful smile. People recognise that quickly and remember it as misleading.
It must inform
Apart from the prescribed declarations such as the maket's identity, the quantity, the price, and a list of ingredients and additives, voluntary information also belongs on the packaging. Examples include instructions, recipes, and other useful notes. Here, too, of course, the only promises made should be those that can be kept.
It must be convenient
Milk drips along the pack instead of pouring into the glass, the ketchup bottle requires brute force to open, the packaging resembles a Japanese puzzle.
Even before the purchased product is actually consumed, packaging can drive users to the brink of a nervous breakdown. If a product or its packaging is difficult to handle, consumers can easily switch to the competition before they have actually given the product a chance to please.
Therefore, good packaging must be easy to open, portion the product, and reclose. The product inside must remain fresh for a long time and make the consumer's life as convenient as possible.
It must address the retailer's needs
Only rarely does a product move directly from the producer to the consumer. This is why the requirements of the intermediary retailer must also be considered. The retailer is interested in functionality: the products must be easy to store, simple to transport, and stackable.
It must be "green"
The awareness of environmental protection and sustainability is growing. Rightfully so! In the packaging industry as well. Consumers are becoming more and more interested in packaging materials. Can they be recycled? Does it really take so much packaging? Questions like this are frequently asked.
These consumer expectations must be addressed as well. With natural-look packaging, for example, a producer can emphasise and visualise good intentions.
Finding the optimised packaging
When looking for the right packaging, you need to find the ideal balance between all of the seven requirements that have been outlined.
So don't leave the first impression to chance and devote your attention to packaging development early on. If you can find the balance between all of the requirements imposed on packaging, nothing will stand in the way of love at first sight - at least between the consumer and the packaging.
- Bill Stewart. 2008. Packaging design. Munich: Stiebner Verlag
- Christina Vaih-Baur & Sonja Kastner (Hrsg.). 2010. Packaging marketing. Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Fachverlag
- Persönlich. Juni 2015. The underestimated packaging
Top-tier flexible packaging solutions
Wipf AG develops and produces high-barrier packaging films and pouches for the food, pharma, and non-food industries. The company employs 200 persons and is one of Europe's leading packaging manufacturers. In 2014, the respected company celebrated its 100th anniversary.
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