Nick Mills
Nick Mills 13 October 2020

The Psychology of Packaging

As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s why humans “dress to impress” and it’s also why astute manufacturers take great care with their product packaging.

Just like with human clothes, packing is one part practicality and one part emotional expression. The practical aspects of packaging can be easily thought through with a bit of common sense, but the emotional aspects of packaging can be a bit harder to pin down.

Here are some points to consider.

The Quality of Your Packaging Will be Seen as a Reflection of The Quality of The Product

Packaging is supposed to protect your product. If you put your product into cheap packaging then consumers will assume that you do not think your product is worth protecting and if you don’t value your own product then why should they?

By contrast, if you put your product in high-quality packaging, then you’re sending out a signal that your product is worth the expense of protecting and this is a positive message to send to customers.

Quality is Good, Quantity is Bad

These days, customers expect to see manufacturers use the absolute minimal level of packaging necessary.

Using excessive packaging sends out a message that the manufacturer of the product values speed and convenience over sustainability. As a case in point, consider the different impressions given by Apple and Amazon. Apple has mastered the art of using minimal packaging but making sure that it is of premium quality. Amazon, by contrast is notorious for using packaging which is of decent quality but totally excessive for the items contained within it.

Customers may swallow this when it comes as part of a great deal, but this is not the way to foster good customer relations or to ensure that customers voluntarily go to a particular source when they have a reasonable alternative.

Packaging Will be Felt as Well as Seen

The visual aspect of packaging is what initially gets a customer’s attention and if anything has become even more important now that so many people get their first experience of a brand online.

In fact, some brands may even sell purely online. At some point, however, customers are going to wind up with the packaging, literally, in their hands, and it needs to make a good emotional impression.

Basically, the feel of packaging is like the first handshake with a job candidate. It should confirm all the good vibes the customer has picked up from the appearance of the item.

Much of this goes back to the first point about quality. However, good materials by themselves are not enough to create the “wow” factor of really good packaging. Manufacturers need to deploy them in an effective way.

As a minimum, the packaging should be appropriately easy to open and, if relevant, to close again. Ideally, the packaging should be designed to feel good in the hand, for example, being a good size and weight and perhaps having materials of different textures.

This could be the difference between choosing to manufacture your packaging using plastic vacuum forming or injection moulding as both techniques will give you a different finish, but the choice has to come down to how you want your customers to feel when they first interact with your product and its packaging.

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