The packaging for your product is a fantastic way to communicate your brand and build equity. This is because of the extra touch points consumers go through when interacting with your product. This involves the product unpacking experience during consumption, post-consumption and the divestment stage. Because there is a clear difference between low and high involvement products, the customer purchase stages don't apply to both of them to the same degree. So, I will give clear examples of both - low and high involvement products and their packaging customer experience.
Often, touch points are associated with appearing to the customer through social media, advertising, or personal interaction. But remember, that touch points appear through many other mediums, which is most important in the purchase decision stages, namely the least considered stages - consumption, post-consumption and divestment. To further explore the customer decision process I encourage you to read the full article on the matter.
If the packaging is designed well, it will be an extra touch point during the purchase decision process. If the packaging has a well thought through unpacking experience, it is another extra touch point which can act as a strong emotional bond that will be associated with the brand.
This can be accomplished through delightful graphic design, the sophistication of the used materials, the fun of ripping the package open, or the functionality of the packaging. I have one company in mind that does this well, namely, Razer. One of their products in particular, really made me a big fan of their brand - which was the Razer Hammerheads (in-ear headphones).
(Photo credit: Jordan Palmer)
For you to better understand why packaging experience can have such a big impact, I will use this product from my personal unpacking interaction.
The packaging was satisfying to open, with the velcro used to keep the packaging "doors" closed. Razer used beautiful materials throughout, had well thought through interior box design, used supporting collateral - a letter from the CEO and Razer stickers, but also made sure the product itself pleasantly fit the carved out sponge.
All of these features hit you at once for a very memorable experience, even if unconscious, leaving their brand in your heart.
The post-consumption stage is often forgotten when it comes to packaging design experience. If executed properly on a high involvement product, the buyer will not want to get rid of the packaging, which will allow your brand to be in touch with the customer on a daily basis. To accomplish this, the packaging design and materials must be so beautiful, the buyer wants it to stand on the shelf like a trophy OR the packaging must still have other ways to offer value or functionality, like storing the product when travelling. Since each product is so unique, there are many creative ways to offer this value/functionality post-consumption, however, that is a deep topic for another article.
For lower involvement products, it is still important to think of the post-consumption, or rather the divestment stage which happens as the last step. When its time for the consumer to get rid of the packaging or the product, there must be a way for them to do so in a memorable or enticing manner. This depends on what your product is and who your customers are. Here are three examples.
(Photo from Kosbest)
If you are selling healthy tea to conscious consumers who want to better themselves. If the packaging is eco-friendly or biodegradable (which can be of value if they have compost), you are adding in additional enticement. In the future, it might even be possible to load the packaging itself with valuable minerals to increase the disposing functionality further.
(Photo from Hidden Art Shop)
For non-food related products, you should offer further functionality similar to what we described earlier. So, for example, a screwdriver is usually a low involvement product, but your packaging can serve as a way to store the screwdriver and its parts in one place. This is obvious, but there is a reason I bring it up. When making your package/box functional, you must invest in the visuals on the packaging to make sure your brand is very apparent. This way you can make sure that if the customer is happy with your screwdriver, they will want to use your brand for other tools too (since they see your brand and associate it with a good product in its category - tools).
Now, you may wonder, "what is the point of branding the packaging when you can brand the tool itself". You see, it all comes back to the touch points again, and the more you have the better - AS LONG AS - it does not disturb the customer experience. And since the packaging serves as storage itself, it is seen as a convenience rather than an unnecessary step when using the tool.
If you are selling cheap alcohol in Poland, you might want to encourage your customers to take the bottles back to the shops, so they can get a portion of the money back - which is a good way to keep them loyal. And while this seems like it could be a waste of time for the comfortable 1st country user, do keep in mind who your users are.
Packaging can sometimes be the first physical encounter your customer has with the brand. It may also be the last physical encounter they have, right before they buy the product. It's that last 10 seconds right before the consumer decides to buy that makes it so important to get the design of your packaging right. As a brand builder, you'll want to work closely with your internal or external design team and you'll need to give them guidance on these three factors.
The products packaging can do a lot of work as discussed previously. It can protect the product while it's in the store, warehouse, during transport, or when the products in your customer's home or work location.
The packaging can explain important information about how to use the product or any warnings that might apply which can save you from printing an instruction manual which could be an unnecessary step.
The packaging design could explain how to store or care for the product, what ingredients are inside, or the price of the product.
The packaging design might have other roles, such as making the product easy to find in a store, serving as a gift box or being easy to dispose of or recycle.
Take a look at your value proposition and reasons why customers should believe in the product. Also, take a look at your list of brand drivers and review the functional, economic and emotional benefits that the packaging may be able to convey. Use the packaging to reinforce your positioning and the brand promise.
(Photo from Adeevee)
Look at the various images on the can - a beach ball, Sunglasses surfboard barbecue grill, I get it. Coke means fun at the beach. That brand driver is communicated very nicely by this simple and clever design.
To keep brand consistency when in charge of packaging design, bring up your brand style guide. The packaging could possibly have the brand name and a tag line. It should have the brand's visual identity including the logo, icons and color schemes, but also look at the brand persona. What are the personality traits of the brand? And how can the packaging be designed to embody these traits.
Take a look at your current product packaging and compare it to the guidelines in your brand book. Is the packaging living up to all the expectations of the brand? Does your packaging further enhance customer experience after the purchase?
Great packaging is much more than a protective box or wrapper around your product. Since packaging design offers an opportunity for additional touch points and loyalty-building, it will influence customers, their brand perceptions, their future purchases and their social circle's purchases. Leverage this information, because as always, long term brand strategy pays off big time driving your profits organically.