How to Treat Your Packaging as a Top Priority – and Why

How to Treat Your Packaging as a Top Priority – and Why

When someone buys from you online, you’ve gained their trust and built a relationship. It's key to maintain that trust by delivering exactly what you promised.

Written by Jason Stokes

7 min read

We tend to always focus on digital in the content we share with you, because the only way to stay ahead in this fast-paced digital world is to keep up with every trend and tactic as it happens.

But, once your audience has danced through your carefully planned digital journey and experienced every part of your online story, your product will make its way into the physical world. And at the end of the day, that’s all that counts.

When someone decides to make a purchase online, it means you’ve gained their trust and you’ve initiated relationship building. The most important thing you can do now is maintain that trust by delivering exactly what you promised. In fact, you should be surpassing expectations! No matter how much attention you gave your online brand identity, consumer retention and loyalty will come down to what you deliver – and in this case, also how you deliver it.

Follow a consumer-centric packaging approach

Brand image and packaging work together because for a consumer, a product and its package are one in the same. If you want someone’s positive experience to transcend long after time of sale, then you have to consider the full extent of their circumstances when they receive their package. Focus on what is important to the customer in that moment:

  • Is the product packaging protecting the item?
  • Is the package physically appealing?
  • Is the package an appropriate size?
  • Is the package easy enough to open?
  • Are the packaging materials used efficiently and not creating too much waste?
  • Can the product be returned easily in its original packaging?
  • Is the consumer going to experience anything unique?

Don’t just answer these questions bluntly though – it’s up to you to see small gaps for creativity in these basic principles. For example, did it ever cross your mind that maybe your buyer won’t even be the one receiving the package?

You could make their life really easy by offering a perfectly gift-wrapped package on delivery with no indication of price on the present, or on its return instructions. All that can be mailed directly to you. Now you’re doing your consumer a great favour, you’re creating a memorable brand experience and potentially gaining a life-long consumer.

Understand sensory marketing

If people are buying online, it’s likely they haven’t had a real-life experience with your brand yet. Even returning customers can’t experience the full atmosphere of your brand from an online platform. That’s why the unboxing experience is so important! It introduces your buyer’s first impression, and it plays in your favour because it lets you bring your brand to life by using all five senses.

Granted, you can’t necessarily tap into all five, but you should still take as much advantage of the opportunity as you can. Researchers have been studying the effects of senses on consumer behaviour for quite some time now, and the fact remains: a memorable sensory experience enhances brand recognition and builds trust.

Besides for shaping good brand perception, five-star packaging will also determine whether or not your customer will become a brand ambassador.

Sight

Sight is the most developed and prominent human sense, and can be regarded as the most powerful sense for detecting quality in goods and services. It’s powerful on memory too. In many cases a brand’s packaging is even more recognisable than the actual product!

In order to stand out your design has to be unique and flawless. It also has to align with your brand identity and reflect the same visual appeal that your buyer has been experiencing up until this point. There will always be a high correlation between your packaging’s design quality and the financial performance of that product, so improve your brand perception and treat your package like a 3D canvas.

Remember, when you get a consumer excited about your product, you’re giving them an opportunity to share it with their personal audience. A pretty package or clever concept can easily make its way onto Instagram, while unique experiences carry a lot of word-of-mouth opportunity!

Smell

Scent is often overlooked, yet it can play such a unique and powerful role in the unboxing experience. Scent runs all the way down to your amygdala and hippocampus, which means it’s directly connected to the parts of your brain that process emotion and form memories!

If you want your unboxing experience to create strong brand association, one that can even trigger nostalgia in future, then scent is well worth working into your sensory marketing strategy.

Find ways to edit the type of olfactory experience your buyer gets in the unboxing experience by designing your package with appropriate materials and structures that can maintain freshness. If you want a lasting impact, make sure the scent corresponds with the product. This may be easier for some brands than for others. Clothing, for example, can easily be coined with a specific scent – like Forever New and their iconic in-store fragrance - whereas technology must rely on attaining ‘that new smell’ that people like so much – a little bit more difficult to achieve.

Taste

Marketing through the palette is a clever approach. But it is probably your trickiest sense to appeal to in ecommerce, especially because you’re most likely not working in the food, beverage or hospitality industry. Since allergens, dietary preferences and freshness play such a big part, you can’t simply add a delicacy to every delivery.

Of course the way around it would be to keep tasteful treats reserved to a specific demographic. If a buyer doesn’t live too far and you know you can guarantee freshness through the transit’s varying temperatures and conditions, then you don’t have much stopping you! Just remember that you will need extra packaging for this treat – under no circumstances can it damage the product.

And if your buyer isn’t interested in your treat, they’ll most likely give it to someone else. More marketing for you, without even trying!

Sound

Another sense that you’ve perhaps tried to incorporate in your digital personality, but not quite had full control over yet, is sound. The power of music and sound transcends language and also has a good impact on memory. In fact, sonic branding signatures can even be more recognizable than company logos.

If you could incorporate a sonic branding signature into your packaging, your consumer will definitely remember you! Only problem is doing this can get expensive and will not always be worth the investment. If this is the case, at least consider what sound the material of your packaging makes when being handled – is it a soft crinkle of delicate tissue paper, or a sturdy shuffle through cardboard and protective layers? It may sound a bit far-fetched, but do what you can to make your consumer’s unboxing experience transcends a unique echo.

Touch

Consumers use textile to determine quality – and your packaging is the first indication of quality they’ll come across. Textile has the power to communicate positive abstract concepts, while the material, weight and shape can enhance interaction experience and improve product perception.

It’s not only about the packaging’s texture, but also about how the consumer can operate it. Your packaging structure needs to demonstrate outstanding functionality, over and above its look and feel, so make sure it’s designed effectively.

Incorporating creative, user-friendly interaction points with your unboxing experience can also give users great satisfaction that will separate you from other brands. Look at these examples of interactive unboxing experiences if you want some inspiration!

Use emotion

If you haven’t been considering sensory marketing in your packaging, this can all sound like an overwhelming task to accomplish in one go. But don’t worry, you don’t necessarily have to shift to an entirely different packaging concept. A consumer-centric approach also takes human emotion into consideration, so you can make small tweaks to your existing packaging until you’re capable of taking a brand new approach. For example:

Personify your product so that it speaks to your consumer directly, evoking emotion. Perhaps include a card that tells a story about the journey the package has travelled to get there, or include a quirky element of where it came from.

Or, bring the element of surprise into your packaging if you want to improve customer satisfaction. Consumers are so bombarded with the ever-enticing ‘get this free’ marketing ploy, that its meaning is reduced to almost nothing! But if you can catch your consumer off guard with a free voucher or a new sample to try, you’ll win them over immediately! Additionally you can consider delivering a coupon code with their purchase, which is proven to have a big impact on repeat purchases.

You can also tug on their emotions by living in the spirit of seasons and celebrations. If your consumers become frequent buyers, they’ll look forward to seeing what kind of creative branding you’ve implemented for this year’s Christmas, Valentine’s Day or even Birthdays. Whatever it is you decide to do, make sure it gives your packaging character and brings your brand to life.

Protect our planet

Being eco-friendly goes beyond user wants and needs. You have to make use of every single opportunity there is to become more environmentally aware because the environment is more important than any of our financial gains. Stay away from single-use plastic, or from even using plastic at all. Look into biodegradable bubble wrap and similar options for fragile items if you have to, even if it calls for a slight increase in cost.

And when you do get to say that you’re an environmentally-aware brand, make sure you tell your audience that you are. Not only will it provoke others to follow in your footsteps, but it will also show your audience that you respect the values they hold dear.

Don’t forget to add a short but instructional piece that informs your buyer how they can recycle. Sometimes people want to take part, they’re just not sure what to do. Or, consider using packaging materials that have multiple purposes, like a tote bag or stylish wooden box.

Start now

Even if you don’t have the capacity or resource to make a major improvement to your packaging at this moment, start brainstorming how you’re going to do it in the future, and start setting those goals now. If you already have a few ideas up your sleeves, start mapping your next steps out so that you can make sure you’re ticking all the boxes for top-notch packaging from the get-go.

While you’re getting busy with your plans, remember to reach out to us about your new marketing strategies and design enhancement concepts. We’re always here to support you through any kind of transformational idea!

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