If you’ve ever been shopping in a large retail shop (so that’s everyone) you’ll understand when we say how competitive it is on the shelfs. Every brand is pushing their product with big claims on the packaging, bright colours to attract your eye and unusual shapes to stand out from the rest of the field. So what can you do as a brand to make sure you’re not falling into the shadows?

Why product packaging is important

Like we’ve just mentioned, the packaging for your product is the first impression for a lot of your customers. This means that if your product does not stand out or doesn’t catch the customers eye as much as one of your competitors - you’re probably losing a large portion of potential business. It’s the one place where you have the opportunity to pitch your product to a potential buyer and in a matter of seconds either make the sale - or lose to a product that ‘looks’ better than yours.

If you’re selling a food or drink, it’s important that you include nutritional information about that product on the packaging as required in many countries by law. This isn’t the most glamorous, colourful addition to your packaging - but it is a necessity and so this needs to be taken into consideration when designing packaging for this type of product.

Brand identity

Remember - it’s not just the product you’re trying to promote on the shelf, it’s also your business. Sit back and think about the last time you went into the shop looking for a product. Did you read through the name of every product in the chocolate isle or did you jump straight for the purple packaging knowing it’s your favourite cadbury bar? Once customers start to buy the same product from the same business over and over again, it’s very difficult to introduce a change to their buying habits. That’s why you need to make sure that when designing your packaging, it falls inline with your brand colours, has your brand name somewhere and possibly your logo so buyers can immediately recognise you among the sea of other brands. Even if your brand isn’t well known but you have some well designed packaging that people start to remember - that can't be a negative.

Securing your product

Product packaging isn’t just about making it look pretty on the shelf though. If you’re sending your products across the country, or even the world, then it’s likely going to be knocked around a few times before it makes it to its final destination. With that in mind, making sure that the packaging is designed in such a way that the product will remain safe whilst in transport either on a plane travelling over the ocean or in the customers bag in the boot of their car is very important. The last thing you want is for your customer to have bought your product and got it home, only to realise that it’s broken in transport because that doesn’t make for a very good customer experience and quite possibly would put them off buying from you again.

For a lot of people, buying a product that has high-quality packaging also adds to the perceived value of the product itself. Let’s use the iPhone as an example here. When you unbox a brand new iPhone from apple - you’re almost taken through a step by step guide showing you the different items in the box one by one. You’ll lift the intro booklet showing the phone before getting to the charger and including earphones. The box is well made, everything is a snug fit and you feel included to keep the box for ‘future use’ if you were to ever pass it onto someone else. Now imagine that same product arriving in a padded envelope from the local post service. It might be a brand new phone, but you’re immediately going to feel worse off about the product - just because of the way it arrived at your door.

Display and promote your product

Let’s go back to the shelf and think of the last time you were looking for something in the shop. Having to stand there and look row by row, product by product as you try to find what you’re looking for can be tedious and a big time waster from peoples shopping trips. With that in mind, the ability to display your product through a small window on the side of the packaging might be a good idea to show the customer exactly what it is they are looking at buying. A clear layer of material can make for a perfect way for your product to shine through the packaging.

Product packaging being designed
A long supermarket shelf with various products

Use as marketing material

With a good design of the packaging, you’ve got the opportunity to attract the customer to learn more about what is on the inside - aka your product. This might make them pick it up and read more around the outside of the packaging. Some products can be promoted with the packaging as well in such ways like having QR (Quick Response) codes people can scan on the box to learn more by loading a website on the customer's phone - there is usually more information about the product on this website or details about how they could enter competitions etc and could be a good technique for capturing marketing data like email addresses, even without them actually buying your product.

Other techniques used to capture more of your potential customers attention would be the use of games like small puzzles and quizzes that you often see on the back of some cereal boxes. This works great for children's cereal because it’s normally the child choosing the cereal off the shelf and so making it attractive to them would be an easier sell to the person spending the money because it’s already been lifted off the shelf.