Business Guides » An Effective Product Packaging Guide for Your Small Business

An Effective Product Packaging Guide for Your Small Business

What is the first thing that a customer sees when he or she comes across the product? 

It is indeed the packaging! 

The packaging is what creates the perception of the brand towards customers. It also tells customers whether it is relevant to them or not. 

The packaging even tells customers whether they should buy it or not. And to the extent that they should even bother to give the product attention or not.

So if there is so much a packaging does for the product, why not optimize the packaging to boost your sales. 

effective product packaging guide

Your packaging will decide your brand identity, so the question is whether you customize it to gain customers or let it fail your product launches. 

Step-by-Step Guide For Effective Product Packaging 

Always Start With Research

Research is always the first step for initiating a process. 

You need to understand who your audience is, what you want from your packaging to represent your product, current status of the marketplace and other aspects as well. 

Then, there is competition as well market research you need to address as well before getting into the process. 

Here are some factors what you need to research as it will impact your product packaging: 

Who is Your Audience? 

So, who is your audience? And what kind of product packaging they expect in a product that truly appeals to them. 

Audience perceives a product through the packaging. And a certain kind of packaging gives certain impressions to people making them decide whether to buy or not. 

For Example, a pink flowery packaging  doesn’t naturally compel men to buy it. 

What Connotation You Want To Evoke With Your Brand?  

Every product evokes some feeling or thought when a prospect sees it. So you need to decide what do you want consumers to think when they see your products? 

So there is an impression you want to create for your products to make. You need to make sure what style to adapt and how to visually craft your packaging to target your customers. 

Understanding The Packaging Layers

There are three different “layers” of product packaging – outer packaging, inner packaging and product packaging. 

You have to identify what layers your products need. You may require one of these packaging layers or may be all of them.

Outer Packaging 

Outer packaging is clearly something a customer is going to see first in your product. This packaging is used for shipping and transport purposes. 

It also protects your product from the external elements. This packaging can also be explained as a shipping package or also the shopping bags or boxes at stores. 

Inner Packaging 

Then you have your inner packaging which you find when you open your outer packaging. 

Inner packaging is what keeps your product safe, stable, fixated and protected in the outer box or bag. 

Those packing peanuts, cushions, tissue papers, thermacoals etc are considered as inner packaging. 

Product Packaging 

Finally, you get your product packaging which is mostly considered as actual packaging of your product. 

It can be the box inside where you find your gadget. It can be that bottle or the wrapper of the chocolate bar. 

This packaging is what protects your actual product from external habitat. Keeping it fresh, safe, sanitized, preserved etc. 

Selecting Your Product Packaging Type

types of product packaging

There are an extensive range of product packaging categories to opt from depending upon what suits your product along with other factors. 

Sometimes it can be obvious selecting between packaging types but on other hand, it can be confusing as well. 

Packaging cost  is also a huge factor in selecting a particular type even if both seem like great choices. 

Here are some different kind of product packaging or container types to opt from :  

  • Boxes 
  • Bottles 
  • Wrappers 
  • Cans 
  • Tetra Packing
  • Glass jars  
  • Cartons 
  • Cardboard tubes 
  • Pouches 
  • Paper packing 

So if you feel confusing how to opt the right product packaging type for your product, here are some factors to determine : 

Your Product Itself 

Ofcourse, your product is the central protagonist when it comes to packaging. So while deciding your package, you need to see what you are selling. 

The state of your product, temperature it requires and its purpose and other physical attributes help you select the right packaging. 

For example, if you are selling something liquid, you will be limited to only certain options such as bottles or tetra packs.   

The Competition

The competition also impacts your decision for selecting the package. You need to see how other brands in competition packaging their products.

For example, if you are looking for a package for your soup, you might find your competitors packaging it in can. 

But you may want to stand out but also make sure it is sensible enough. 

So, there is clearly a research you need to pull off checking your competition and even history of soup packaging. 

Identify if there is a pre-existing issue with packaging soups. You can also see whether there is scope for you to experiment. 

Your Budget 

As we already mentioned before, your packaging cost is an integral factor in deciding packaging type. 

You might get a great idea on how you want to sell your decorative piece but if your budget is restricted, there are only a few options for you to opt. 

If your product is going to sell at $12, you would prefer to have some inexpensive option for packaging, so you can save more margins and make larger profits. 

However, if you are selling a product at higher cost, maybe some gift items, you can afford to give it a luxury-packaging to fulfil its value. 

So everything boils down to what you exactly need rather than what you want. 

The packaging type you decide will comply with all the factors such as : 

  • It should ship well 
  • It must be functional 
  • It should be visually appealing 
  • It must align with people’s expectations. 
  • It should match with industry standards 
  • It should be competitive. 

Design Your Packaging 

Designing is the task which you should outsource even for whatever reason you think you can manage. 

Hire a professional to get the design packaging for your product. It should include all kinds of packaging such as inner packaging, outer packaging and product packaging as well. 

While you are getting your packaging designed, you need to be clear on what color scheme you want, graphics, imagery and overall aesthetics you prefer to have. 

Your packaging design must make it clear what your product is. Also it should resonate with the kind of audience it is targetting. 

For example, if your product is  for younger kids, the packaging should be something that lures them and makes the product relative. 

There are actually many printing companies that offer design services streamlined with printing services as well. 

Getting Feedback 

Once you have completed the design, you can surely get into the printing process. But you need to take it slow here. 

You must double check everything to assure your product packaging design goes perfect with every aspect of making it successful. 

So you can review your design on every possible grounds. Check the copy, imagery, the color scheme, uniqueness and whether it matched your vision or not. 

But still you need other opinions and feedback. So ask your team members, your peers and anyone who has experience in the retail or e-commerce sector. 

You can also ask the target customer of your product as they are going to buy the product after all. 

Now, use all the feedback you get to re-examine everything and see what changes it requires in the design. 

Exploring Printing Options 

You think of printing after the designing process which makes sense but here is something you need to consider. 

Printing process can be more efficient and effective if they get some designing specifications to customize it. 

You should connect with the printer and they will give you some specific information that might help your designer to make suitable designs. 

Here are few things you would want to know about :

Dielines

Make sure you get printers to provide you the dieline templates, if you are going with the standard-size box or label. 

You need to share these templates with your designers when the designing process is going on. 

File-format Requirements 

The design you will be providing to your printers must be in a vector file. Now, you need to find out the requirements in terms of format that your printer requires. 

Do they need it to be a layered file? 

You need to add cut-lines? 

And, there are many such format related queries you need to address through your printing source. 

Make sure you get a printing-ready file usually available in .ai ( Adobe Illustrator) or .psd ( Photoshop) and even could be PDF or EPS as well. 

Don’t worry if you are not able to open the file, that could happen if you don’t have the correct software. But your printer will be able to open these files. 

However, your designer will also supply some visual mockups in PNG or JPG format which everyone can open. 

It is just essential to understand various file types here and provide it to the right people. 

Digital vs Offset 

One of the concerns while printing your design should be what type of printing you are using. 

If you are getting offset printing, you need to see what is your minimum order number.  How does this cost might scale? 

Color options 

There are some printers which can get you color matched to any Pantone color. 

There are other comparatively less expensive alternatives that will give you only limited color in the pallet. 

You need to see how much you can spend here depending upon your packaging budget and preferences for the design. 

Tips For Effective Product Packaging 

Content is crucial in Packaging 

Brands often forget that people want to buy the product, not the package itself. So what it means is packaging is crucial but it should be subjected to the product itself. 

Effect of good packaging encourages customers to buy the product where one of the essential factors often overlooked is content of the packaging. 

Since people want to buy products, not packages, they want to know about the product. 

So your packaging should contain enough content to convince customers that they pick the right product on every aspect. 

You need to make it very clear what your product is. Put clear information about your product, ingredients, instructions to use etc on the packaging. 

The placement of these information also matters a lot. 

Customers do not want to spend much time on a product to check out, they quickly switch to others if they don’t see what they can understand or like. 

Visual is essential on your packaging but so the contents, and especially serving towards the product. 

Don’t get too focused solely on the packaging. You have to use packaging to convince buying the product. 

Customers Hate  Disappointment or Dishonesty 

What throws off a customer most is being cheated or disappointed by a brand or product. 

They often buy a product or invest their time into product projects or promises but never fulfilled or manipulate at worse. 

Image Source: Digital Synopsis 

Packaging is to present your product in the best way possible. 

But you don’t want to present your product completely different from what it actually is. 

That’s always a bad idea! 

Customers feel disappointed, cheated or misled with the wrong presentation or perception built through packaging. 

They will never buy your product again. Also, it might lead to negative word-of-mouth around other customers as well. 

Image Source: Bored Panda 

So be honest as much as possible with your packaging. It’s better to have a good product to start with, so in packaging you don’t have to pretend. 

Under-delivering the product in quantity or wrong presentation of your product in packaging also counts as evil packaging practises. 

Packaging must emits how good your product is but it should not emit what it isn’t. Remember, honesty is the best policy! 

Keep It Simple For A Change 

There are millions of products available in the market. Consumers are bombarded with hundreds of product packaging information and visual imageries regularly. 

There’s even too much going on with packaging designs with most of the product today. It really overwhelms customers. 

Image Source: BP&O

They don’t even notice the details, uniqueness or specifications of packaging designs to appreciate or not. 

So, maybe give your customers a sensory break for change, and go with something simple. 

Develop a simple, minimalistic and yet aesthetical design relevant to your product. Be subtle with the color scheme and vibrancy of the packaging design. 

Image Source: Fiverr

Don’t hesitate to experiment or use the white space in order to highlight or direct attention to the visual elements. 

Use visual elements to create a unique flair in your design. You can always hire a professional creative designer to come up with some unique for your brand. 

Be Practical With Your Packaging 

It’s not the looks that customers only or some even look for from a product. Packaging plays an important role in the function of that product. 

For Example, tomato ketchup is both available in bottle and stand-up pouches. So due to different packaging, the function or the way how to use the product changes. 

So apart from the visual aspect of your packaging, you need to see how practical it is for pick, store, carry and use.  

Efficiency of products is an essential factor in packaging. Explore the market and see what existing issues are going on with packaging for such types of products. 

Think of how you can improve the functionality of the package to make it a better choice in the market. 

Lot of customers buy products particularly on the basis of functionality of the package. 

Coming back to our example, many people prefer stand-up pouches for tomato ketchup as it is easy to store and use, also convenient to dispose as well.  

Think Outside The Box 

If there is something as close as “package marketing”, doing something out-of-the-box with your product packaging will be the best strategy. 

You just have to be creative, bold and unthinkable with the design that just pulls people in. 

Image Source: Uniprint

If it goes well, people are more likely to share pictures or tell their friends about it. So packaging might be the pulling factor for the audience. 

Sky’s the limit with creativity and thinking out of the box, so you just have to come up with something bizarre or “cool”. 

Image Source: Ucreative

But do not do these mistakes in order to experiment with packaging 

  • Don’t forget the relevance of the packaging with your product.
  • Make sure you don’t lose the practicality and function of the packaging.
  • Do not go overboard with this. 
  • It should engage people but not question it.
  • Make sure it goes with your brand identity.  

You can also play with the design to increase its utility. It helps develop the functionality of packaging with being creative and smart at the same time.

 

Use Visible and Clear Typography 

You must remember that a consumer only spends a few seconds to look at any product while they are buying. 

And you have to not just grab their attention but also inform them what your product is.  

If they struggle to understand the typography of the text information on your packaging, chances are they would avoid that struggle and move on. 

You need to make it as clear and simple for the audience to understand just by one good at it. 

This happens a lot when brands use illegible typography to title their products in packaging. Huge mistake! 

Fancy fonts are never really able to hold people as it is difficult to quickly read it at one glance. 

It doesn’t mean you cannot play with typography in order to make it more visual and attractive but it shouldn’t interfere with messaging or communication. 

Also, you need to make sure the color and opacity of the font goes well with the background color of packaging as well as overall color scheme. 

Giving It A Mystery Element

This is not a usual packaging practise but to stand out from your competition, you need to think of where you can excel given your product type. 

Ambiguity can be something that pulls people right away. When they notice something with your packaging but couldn’t get it, they are compelled to know.

 You can understand this with an example. Superfly, a natural non-alcoholic cocktail offered by Firefly, and they make innovative juices infused with various natural extracts. 

The company collaborated with a reputed mixologist to come up with their own juice combinations. 

Now, definitely they are not selling a usual product. So they decided to go for the packaging that complement their product. 

Image Source:  99design

 They created these unique design bottles where they even get better visuals with its overall shelf appeal. 

Most of the juice packaging in the market is the same, so customers expect a certain type of imagery with juice packaging. 

Superfly bottles, here look like a work of art or decorative piece to put in your bedroom or common room. 

The flower and petals, the overall imagery is intoxicating because you can like it but considering it is in a supermarket or store, you don’t know what it is. 

Surprisingly, they didn’t go for any huge logo at the front, which is giving it a “artpiece” feeling rather than a product.  

It pulls the audience to it because it is mysterious and ambiguous in nature. People reach out to the bottle just to find out that exactly it is.

 

Make Your Packaging Product Friendly 

Every packaging is unique, and dedicated to only a particular product. So, the packaging must be designed in a way that resonates with the product well. 

Resonating well doesn’t only mean visually or just by the design but also on the basis of utility and functionality. 

Image Source: Webstaurantstore

It should have a friendly relation with your product. Packaging must reflect its complementary relationship with the product because if not, then it will affect the sales of the product. 

For Example, Tomato ketchups were not really welcomed when it came in the glass bottles, eventually reflected in their sales as well. 

Image Source: Which.uk

Later, Heinz introduced their upside-down plastic bottle packaging for ketchup that hiked their sales just because their design complemented the product. 

So it also gives you an opportunity to find around in the market regarding the products you sell to resolve such packaging issues, if they exist. 

If not, you can at least elevate the level of this complementary relationship of product and packaging getting leverage against your competitors. 

Be Conscious Of Your Competition 

It is essential to study your competition and be aware of what other brands in your niche or industry is doing in terms of packaging. 

This awareness will help you understand what type of packaging design they are utilizing and how they are different from each other. 

You can learn from those brands who are least successful as to what you need to avoid when it comes to packaging your product. 

Marketplace is where you can learn what to do and what not. If you observe and research well, you can also explore the possibility of where one can improve. 

Make Your Product Packaging Relevant 

You might have heard the saying “ If ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? 

Well, this doesn’t work for the packaging. In product packaging, you have to keep yourself updated with the changing times. 

You need to be aware of your competition and market. Even if you have great packaging, it doesn’t necessarily last long. 

Brands must be conscious of the changes in interests amongst people. Figure out what more people are expecting and keep improving your package. 

The aim should be to constantly update your packaging strategy as per the requirement. 

Giving Your Customer Sneak Peek Through Package Window

Package Window are those cut outs in the product packaging to give a sneak peak of your product inside. 

You have seen these designs all the time with certain types of products but often not used for all sorts of products. 

Image Source: Bench Packing Design

You can be creative with using the package window, making it part of the design and optimizing it for a better and smart look. 

There are already a lot of brands that are utilizing this on a much playful level along with giving customers what they are getting inside. 

Image Source: Pinterest

Some might argue that one doesn’t need to do a certain set of products but for the sake of design, it doesn’t really hurt if done well. 

Make your package window more unique and symbolic to your brand. This is also something that promotes transparency and builds trust with the customer. 

Assuring the Quality of Your Packaging

Sometimes brands overlook quality as compared to the design of your packaging. You need to assure the quality of your packaging is as good as possible. 

It is highly recommended to choose the finest material you can within your budget. Not just how your packaging looks but also how it feels matters to customers. 

Customers can touch and feel the quality of the packaging. In fact, most of the customers judge the packaging on the basis of the material quality. 

That’s why you see premium products which are expensive compared to others uses very high-quality packaging, and actually different from others. 

Make Your Product Like Your Customers 

Making your product just like your customers is more than just delivering relevance to them through your packaging. 

It reflects your brand identity that is dedicated to a certain customer group, type or category. 

What kind of packaging will attract your customers?  What they can relate instantaneously, at the moment?  

So, you need to innovate your packaging in the context of your customers. 

Image Source: Pinterest

For Example, Heinz targeted the kids through a certain type of packaging design (shown above) for their Fruitz product line. 

They just not focused to target their customers who are kids but also give them an agenda of providing “healthy snacks” to them. 

The packaging was colorful, vibrant and with ‘minion” graphics on it. It was packaged in different colors depending upon its fruit flavor. 

Shelf Impact Of Your Packaging

Customers see the product in its group, that is on the shelf, never individually. You always find the products aligned in the rows and columns at the shelves.

So, there is an overall view of the patterns that appear when a customer looks for a certain product on the shelf.

Image Source: Packagingoftheworld

This pattern is what actually draws consumers’ attention and makes customers give it a closer look. 

So this appeal a product has when it is perceived by the consumer on a shelf along with other same products, this known to be “Shelf Impact”. 

Shelf impact is crucial for the sale. This is a particular aspect of packaging which you need to do more research, explore and test. 

Making the Creative Packaging Solution Smart & Fun 

You always need to look upon the packaging solutions that can resolve an existing problem in the market. 

That’s a great way to  have an edge over other competitors. However, not necessarily there is a striking problem but there is always a scope to make it more fun and smart. 

So whether your brand identity allows you to be creatively fun with your products or you just want to do something out-of-the-box, you can always do something more to the existing packaging options in the market. 

Let’s understand this with an example here. 

Image Source: Designhill

So this is a tea bag brand offered in the shape of T-shirts with a hanger. 

They basically wanted to make something that can hook to the cup, so it is much more convenient than the traditional method. 

But they could have just done that but the brand took the solution or the option one step further, and made it fun. 

Now this packaging set for tea bags really stands out amongst the competition. Considering other factors equated, people might prefer to buy this one. 

Usable Packaging Design 

The best you can do with the packaging of your product is make it usable in a way that it means to be. 

Do something extra with the packaging that it gives more utility than just protection and branding. 

Not just that, if it is creative and interesting, also getting in real use, it will grab people’s attention more as compared to others. 

Image Source: Youtube

This way, you can make the product package memorable for the customers, so they remember your brand for something unique. 

For Example, Cadbury’s Gems chocolate decided to come up with a new packaging exclusively for small kids. 

But with this, they changed their packaging to lure kids in. They packaged gem chocolates inside a ball with which kids can play. 

It is a great example of useful product packaging serving the target audience at its best. Because when a kid sees it, he knows he will be getting the ball to play after eating all the gems chocolate. 

So they are getting more value on buying this. Even adults think it as a gaining double benefit. 

Go For Special Edition Packaging 

Special Edition packaging is the fruit of impulse buying and ongoing trends in the world. And, you can leverage it to generate more sales through it. 

There is always a trend going on. It can be FIFA, basketball tournaments, Halloween, Christmas or some movie buzz and so on. 

It is a great way to stay tuned with the market. Also, helps boost your sales every now and then.

You are leveraging a fan or targetted group that intends to buy products associated with that fandom. 

Image Source: Behance

For Example, UNO did Arsenal FC special Edition packaging leveraging the team fans to buy their product. 

Also, with huge fandoms like Marvel or DC, a lot of brands use special editing packaging to bring in those people as their buyers. 

It also happens with including popular sportsmen and celebrities into a brand and coming up with their own set of special editing packaging and product as well. 

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