Various consumer studies have shown that when designing your product’s packaging, you should consider not just how much the project will cost, but also how the materials you choose, and your overall design strategy can (and will) influence consumer behavior as well. It is important to remember that while the item inside the package is a commodity, it is the packaging that provides value for the brand.
When confronted with options for packaging, many of us seem to separate the product from the package and focus on cost reduction. The goal of this blog post is to demonstrate that packaging is so valuable that selecting the best design, rather than just focusing on the best price, is what in the end will increase revenue, improve product quality, and positively influence the emotions of consumers.
You have heard about many famous brand “taste tests” featuring the same beverage in a paper cup, an aluminum can, a glass bottle, and a plastic container. Reactions to the flavor of that beverage in each of the different containers varied wildly, which makes sense because the materials are quite different and have their own associated taste when pressed against our lips. We’ve all experienced a difference in taste across the beverages we consume in our daily lives.
Even the simplest elements of a package’s design can influence how a consumer will perceive a product. Last year, a study conducted by the Packaging Science Department at Clemson University tested emotional responses to product labels. Their research scientists utilized commercially produced bottles of kombucha in three assorted flavors from the same brand, only covering up the flavor names so all bottles looked the same except for the label colors, which were green, yellow, and orange. The unique part of this is that the participants in the test did not know that the bottles with the green and yellow labels contained the exact same beverage.
In the research study, participants tasted each of the three beverages. They self-reported their preferred flavor on a ballot while their facial expressions were being recorded so that their emotional responses could be evaluated. Interestingly, their self-reported preference was for the green label over the yellow one. The researchers confirmed through biometric data that when analyzing their facial expressions, they found that the yellow label had a higher probability of eliciting negative emotions. With all other factors being the same, green is a better choice than yellow for this specific product, packaged in this specific bottle, for this specific brand. It is a powerful thing to understand that something as simple as a spot color can make a product taste different and influence a consumer’s mood and attitude towards a product.
As you can see, the importance of smart design, typography, and mouthwatering imagery all play into how the consumer reacts to the packaging when the consumer sees it on the shelf. Additionally, expertly styled food or beverage imagery delivers appetite appeal for a great first impression, which can make all the difference to the success of your product.
So, what does this mean for your product packaging? You need to consider all aspects of the design process — colors, fonts, graphic elements, photography, substrate, and printing all play a role in evoking emotion to drive consumer conversion. Even if you do not produce food products, your packaging influences the likelihood of returns, product expectations, repeat purchases, and the equity of your brand.
Packaging is of vital importance to the success of your product. It is worth the time and effort to create a design that not only commands attention but also makes—and fulfills—a promise that this is the best choice to meet your customers’ needs.