How Does Packaging Design Influence Buying Decisions?
11 Jan 2021
While companies invest significant time and resources into brand development, marketing, and advertising, a product’s distinct packaging may make an important first impression to customers in-store. So, what goes into well-branded packaging? How much does overall design influence a customer’s buying decisions? Let’s take a look at some key strategies that industry leaders utilize.
At the forefront of any well-designed package should be the brand’s name. No matter the product or industry, a brand’s name should be clearly stated and prominently placed. A logo for an established national or global brand can be a valuable asset when it comes to instilling a sense of nostalgia, goodwill, and an affiliation that product has with something made of “high quality.” Additionally, a well-placed logo can be used when. differentiating one product from many competitors. This is a key priority for food manufacturers and producers of common household goods that routinely sell their products in grocery stores.
In this context, a peanut butter brand like JIF utilizes a largely minimal white text logo on its familiar tri-colour red, blue, and green base. Among competitors with logo designs that might appear “busy” or cluttered, JIF stands out with distinct branding along with an easy-to-read and pronounce name that appeals to customers of any age. For brands that don’t have the benefit of decades of retail exposure, an investment in custom packaging design should heavily consider logo concepts and placement may be a wise one.
Sensory appeal touches upon a range of experiences that customers implicitly feel when they encounter packaging in-stores or through items delivered to their homes.
Among the most visible components is the use of colour (or lack thereof). Take cereal, for instance. As food products that are widely popular across consumer demographics in terms of age, gender, and locality, there are cereal brands conceived to appeal to any individual. Likewise, the approach that a children’s cereal producer may take may be completely different to that of a health and wellness-focused cereal targeting middle aged adults. A children’s brand may utilize minimal text save for a fun, engaging puzzle or activity on the backside of the box. It could use bright, bold colours and whimsical cartoon mascots to heighten a sense of parasocial trust.
Meanwhile, a health-focused adult cereal would likely use muted tones and pastels or an image of wheat or whole grains to convey a sober sense of compassion one typically associates with healthy cereals. Gone would be the cartoon mascot in favour of happy, and healthy stock photo models as is the case with Kashi’s line of cereals.
There are key differentiators that appeal to varied demographics such as colour and visual elements. However, many leading brands utilize more democratic approaches to reach wider audiences. Consider Target and their in-house brand of Method cleaning products. With clear typography, easy-to-read ingredients’ lists, bold usage of colour, and ergonomically-shaped packages, the Method line of home cleaning products is designed to appeal to the broadest spectrum of consumers from college students living in their dormitories or first apartments to professionals with discerning tastes for home products.
Conversely, packaging design may utilize tactile elements to give brands a more upmarket appeal. Think of any premium fragrance, artisanal food product, or cosmetic brand. Far removed from lower price point plastics and scattershot typography, luxury goods, especially in the fashion and beauty sectors, typically employ minimal, but distinctive approaches to their packaging. These may appear in more muted tones, black and white designs, designer logos prominently placed, or the use of natural materials such as wood or leather.
Many leading footwear designers and leather goods companies will actually subcontract these aspects to a third-party packaging material testing laboratory that can translate a company’s overarching brand message into packaging that speaks to their loyalists while appealing to new customers in-store.
For brands that have been on the market for decades, the key to their packages’ success is consistency. Coca-Cola, for instance, is among the most recognized brands on the planet. Though its packaging has been revamped over time with major shifts in material use from glass to plastic, the key elements still remain. Red labels with white typography in the familiar, swirling script are placed on curved, almost hourglass-shaped bottles designed precisely for easy handling.
Another brand that’s paying attention to consistency is Domino’s Pizza. As the second-most franchised pizza chain in the world, the brand is instantly recognizable due to its light blue and red pizza boxes. However, a new packaging concept in the UK gave the company some recognition. UK-based design firm, Johnson Knowles Ritchie designed new, sleek packaging that plays on the Domino’s logo by literally crafting boxes to look like the trademark rectangular domino pieces. The firm worked off of market research that found that 96% of Domino’s pizzas are sold in pairs. By creating minimalist “domino” boxes, they made a witty brand statement while playing to the company’s strengths in terms of notoriety and consistent color usage.
Brands of all sizes and across industries need to consider on the way their products interact with customers in stores and through home deliveries. Packaging design works in tandem with other aspects of promotions from advertising and marketing to deliver that final “soft sell” either in stores or when it comes time for customers to place another order online. Through this, leading brands utilize implicit elements from visual and tactile cues that play into senses of nostalgia, value, and quality. If this is accomplished, brands stand to attract new customers while instilling trust among loyalists.