Product packaging is about more than just how it looks. Besides the aesthetic design, there are myriad other factors that will affect the practicality of your packaging, including convenience, environmental considerations and product protection.
However, there is a fine line between well designed, functional packaging and overspending on something the customer is just going to throw away. So, let’s have a look at your three primary packaging considerations.
1. How does your packaging look and feel?
Appealing and modern
Your packaging says a lot about your product and brand. For instance, a premium product needs premium packaging materials, like using glass rather than plastic and using higher quality inks, paper and cardboard.
You may need to consider whether opening, or ‘unboxing’, your product should be an event. Unboxing videos on social media have exploded in popularity, with fans and influencers documenting their unboxing and first touch experiences.
Look at companies who do this experience well and model your unboxing experience off theirs. Apple and Dollar Shave Club have long set the benchmarks in this area. Don’t forget to add your own flair though.
When designing your packaging, take into consideration your target market. Consider the other products and brands your target market buys. What does the packaging for this merchandise look like? Is it brightly coloured? Is it minimalist?
For a lot of customers, green packaging and sustainable brands are becoming increasingly important. Customers may pass over your product or brand if they do not think the product or packaging is environmentally friendly.
Choose packaging that is sustainably made and can be easily recycled. You should also minimise how much packaging is needed for each product.
It’s worth thinking about how your target market views sustainability. People buying organic fair trade coffee, for example, are more likely to be thinking about sustainable packaging than people buying heavy duty power tools. Doing some research into your target market will help you understand how much to foreground your brand’s eco-credentials.
Your packaging should also meet specific regulations for where it will be sold to ensure stock is not destroyed or returned to you. For instance, in many countries, medicines need to be in tamper-proof packaging and potentially harmful chemicals must have child-safety measures.
Consider what labels your packaging needs as well and how they can be incorporated into the overall design. Your packaging and labelling must meet all regulations required by the relevant governments.
2. How does your product get packaged?
Manufacturing and packing
For the manufacturing of packaging and the packing of your product, you have a wide range of options. You can work with overseas or local manufacturers and packagers, or you can complete this work in-house.
When making your decision, consider cost, quality and what is possible. A local business may not be able to make as complex packaging as an overseas factory. Overseas packagers may have the latest in equipment, including automated bagging machines and sachet packers. Think about the stability, reliability, credibility and professionalism of the manufacturers and packagers available to you.
Ideally, you want a reliable manufacturer and packager. They should produce quality products that fit your brand. However, the manufacturer’s and packager’s services should be comfortably within your budget.
When you find the companies you wish to work with, make sure to get a supplier agreement. This should include information about their production limits; that is, how much packaging they can manufacture in a certain timeframe. Understanding their limits can help you plan your own timelines and estimate your budget and spending.
If a factory can only make enough packaging for 10,000 products in a month, then is it worthwhile for you to manufacture 15,000 products in a month? And what if the packager can only pack 5,000 products in the same timeframe?
3. How does your product travel or sit on the shelf?
While creating appealing packaging is important, it needs to still effectively protect the product. It’s more economical to spend money on protecting the product rather than replacing products that get damaged while on route to the customer.
When designing packaging, think about how your product can be damaged. Can it be physically damaged from crushing or drops? Is it temperature-sensitive like food? Will it be damaged if it gets damp? Design your packaging around your product’s requirements.
As a rule of thumb, your packaging should protect the product from a one-metre fall onto concrete. You can expect this to occasionally happen when products are being packed for shipping or being stocked in warehouses or retail stores. Being able to survive this treatment also ensures your product will survive smaller bumps and knocks without being negatively affected.
Don’t forget to take into account how heavy your product is. The heavier the product, the stronger the packaging will need to be to support it.
Using minimal packaging is not only eco-friendly but can also be cost-effective. A bigger and bulkier package is more expensive to ship and takes up more space on retail and warehouse shelves.
You need to find a happy medium between keeping your product protected without unnecessarily increasing its size.
Packaging has advanced beyond simple cardboard boxes. There’s a lot to take into account from its appearance to who makes it to how much space it takes up. It can take a lot of time and experimentation to hit on the perfect packaging for your product, but the end result is worthwhile.