Packaging is an integral part of your marketing mix and is like a mini-billboard for your brand. In the second that a potential customer scans a retail shelf in search for the product they want, and sees your packaging, it has to convey the message of your brand through colours, texture, font usage and quality. The packaging of your product also needs to reflect the quality of the product inside, it needs to communicate what the product is, attract the target market and it needs to ultimately seduce your customer into buying it!
If you don't get the packaging right, your target client wont even notice your product on the retail shelves, they wont reach for your product and look at it closer which means they wont purchase it.
Remember, your product is most likely to be placed on a retail shelf alongside similar products (including alongside your competition!). Think about how your packaging can stand out from your competitors and how it can attract your target market.
Research your competition
In the research stage of your start up or re-brand, you should go to the stores where your product will be (or is) stocked. Check out the competition. What can you do with your packaging that will attract the customer to favour your product over others?
You need to have a clear understanding of where your product is placed in the market (in regards to price and quality) compared to other suppliers selling the same (or similar) product. Your product will most probably be placed along side direct competitors (products that are the same quality level, similar price and targeting the same audience), and indirect competitors - which are products in the same product category but are targeting a different audience.
If you are selling your product online through online gift stores, you will need to do the same research as if it was in a physical store - check out which products will be displayed on the same page as yours and think about how to draw the attention of your target customer to purchase your product over your direct competitor's product.
Who is your target market?
Are you a luxury brand? Are you a brand targeting teenagers? are you targeting eco-concious men or women that only purchase high quality, organic products? You need to know exactly who your target market is and what you want your brand image to be.
You should compare yourself to your direct competitors. Check out who else is targeting your market. There will always be direct and indirect competitors, but you should mostly concentrate on your direct competitors. For example, a person that is interested in high quality eco products, will scan over the fluro pink sparkly cheap looking packaging on the shelf (the product that is directed to teenagers). Even if the product was the same on the inside, the fluro, sparkly packaging wouldn't seduce an eco-concious, quality seeking consumer into purchasing the product - as the packaging does not reflect their life aspirations, nor will it attract them. The eco-concious shopper will be looking for a product that is packaged in quality kraft paper packaging, that mentions the words eco or environment, and has earthy colour print.
Think about what colours, fonts and details would attract your target market and base your packaging design around that. Again, your brand guidelines and your brand image should have already been established at the launch of your brand. However if it's not working there is always the opportunity to re-brand via a relaunch of your product packaging.
If you supply luxury candles, but stock your retailers shelves with cheap, ugly packaging, your target market won't take the time to look at your beautiful, high quality candles inside the packaging. They won't know that your candles are luxury candles if the packaging doesn't portray luxury! If you have beautiful, attractive packaging, even those that are not looking to purchase a candle, might stop by the shelf and pick the product up, just to look at the beautiful packaging, which might lead them to purchase your product!
Pricing your product & why packaging matters
The pricing of your product will also indicate its quality. If you have a high quality (luxury) product, you will need luxury product packaging. Quality, custom made bespoke packaging - made to your exact size, style and printing requirements, will be more expensive than an off-the-shelf box from a wholesale supplier, that you can only print up to 2 colours on, and may mean your product rattles around inside it, as it's not custom made to your exact product size requirements.
Remember, you can incorporate the cost of the bespoke product packaging into the overall sales price, as clients who purchase luxury products either do so for a friend, someone who they wish to impress such as a potential business partner or client, or as a gift to themselves. These clients want to purchase a beautiful, high quality product encased in beautiful, quality box and are willing to pay more for a product that is beautifully packaged. Sales could fall and you could lose your target market if you don't choose the correct packaging.
It's so important to make the right decisions when deciding on your package design, shape and quality - because it really does affect your sales.
Packaging is more than just a protective element for your product - it should attract your target market
From personal experience, with gift buying, if I see two or more similar products on the shelves, I will purchase the slightly more expensive product if the packaging looks more beautiful. I also know that people share beautiful packaging pictures on social media to their friends, clients or followers.
Packaging is important and powerful. With the wrong packaging quality, style and printing design, your brand image can be damaged, and you could attract the wrong audience and lose sales.
Clara Cassidy, Founder and Marketing Manager of Custom Printed Bags & Boxes, is a marketing professional with years of experience in branding, promotions and events.