1 Communicate benefits effectively
2 Make the packaging “work”
3 Ensure text is readable
4 If possible, make packaging environmentally friendly – and then advertise it
5 Update packaging design regularly
6 Invest in good quality packaging
7 Research your competitors
8 Make the product visible
Your customer may have a bewildering array of similar products to choose from; why should they choose yours? Your product’s packaging is what sells the product for you, so communicate the main benefits and features of your product clearly and boldly. These benefits could include price, innovation/new product, functionality, origin of the product, and more. Remember that most shoppers don’t have time to read screeds of text, so the main benefits should be communicated as concisely as possible. A few key words that jump out at the customer and which can be read in a glance are most effective for drawing the customer’s attention to the product.
Other information that should be on the packaging, and which can be in smaller, less obvious type, includes instructions for how to use the product, customer service contact details, instructions for how to open the packaging (if applicable) and for how to dispose of the packaging responsibly.
This depends on the nature of your product. With some products, e.g. a bar of soap or a pack of batteries, the packaging is disposed of as soon as the product is taken out and used, and the packaging plays no further role in the product experience. However, with products that are used in their packaging, e.g. milk or liquid soap, the packaging is very much part of the ongoing experience, and it is important that it is functional and practical. Factors to consider include how easy it is to hold (large milk bottles are easier to use if they have handles, for example), how effectively they dispense the product, whether they drip or make a mess, the durability of the packaging in relation to the likely lifespan of the product, and how easily the product will fit into the fridge or on the shelf. Yet another factor to consider is the ease of transport of the product, and how easy and practical it will be to display on retailers’ shelves, if applicable.
Consider your target market when deciding on font size. Within the space constraints you have, and bearing in mind that some information is more important to display and make legible than other information, make the font size as easy to read as possible. If your target market is, for instance, children or over-50s, larger fonts are likely to be particularly important.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental problems associated with over-packaging. If possible, make your packaging as eco-friendly as possible, as it will not only minimise your impact on the environment, it is also likely to give you a competitive advantage over your less environmentally aware competitors. Ways in which your packaging can be made eco- friendly include constructing it using environmentally friendly materials (e.g. chlorine-free bleach, recycled paper/plastic, sustainably harvested wood); making it recyclable itself, or making it compostable/biodegradable; making it reusable, versatile and durable, or alternatively reducing it and making it as minimalistic as possible. If you are able to make your packaging eco-friendly, then make sure to advertise the fact on the packaging.
Modern consumers have short attention spans and are constantly subject to changing colours and trends in the market place. In order to keep up with this constant change and maintain your customer base, it is recommended that your packaging designs be updated approximately every two years. Consumers naturally favour newer products, and even if your product is a tried-and-tested old favourite with a loyal customer base, new packaging with a fresh look will keep your existing customers’ attention and attract that of new customers.
High quality packaging and label design is an investment worth making. Packaging that is luxurious, durable or reusable (depending on the product) can add to your product’s perceived value; however, it is important not to over-promise with your packaging. The quality of the packaging should be appropriate to the value and quality of your product; for instance, an exquisitely designed high quality box for a basic, ordinary bar of soap would be an example of inappropriate “over packaging”.
Make sure you know who your competitors are, and differentiate your packaging appropriately from theirs, so that your product does not get lost in the bewildering array of similar products. It is worthwhile to conduct a little research into your competitors’ target markets and the selling points or main benefits of their products. This will enable you to differentiate your product from theirs, perhaps to aim at a slightly different market or to offer slightly different or better main benefits. If it is possible to do this, make sure you make it obvious on the packaging.
In many cases it is a good idea to ensure that the product itself is visible to the purchaser. This reduces trust issues by enabling the customer to see what they are buying. This can be done by making the packaging transparent, incorporating a transparent window into the packaging or, where this is not practical or desirable, a photograph of the product can be included in the packaging design.