When you’re selling a product on store shelves, you’re selling more than just the product. You’re selling the packaging that product comes in, too. Choosing the right packaging can be more difficult than it might seem. It needs to tick both stylistic and practical concerns, and you also need to ensure that you’re getting quality packaging from reliable suppliers/manufacturers, as well. Here, we’re going to look closer at the qualities that your packaging needs to make it on store shelves.
Communicating the product
A big part of what packaging is supposed to do is to help your customers know what they are purchasing. Some products don’t need a lot of packaging to do that, as their nature and purpose might be clear at a glance of the product itself. However, for tinned goods, bottled goods, and packeted goods, your customer might not be able to tell unless there is imagery and readable text on the front letting them know precisely what they are buying. Of course, there might be other information that you need to convey on the packaging as well, such as food expiration dates, nutritional values, and the like.
The ability to stand out
Aside from being able to simply tell what it is, you should make sure that your customers are drawn to the product, visually, as well. A lot of fledgling businesses will make the mistake of packaging their products to be aesthetically similar to their competitors, in the hope that it makes them more recognizable. However, the truth is that this approach is only more likely to make them fade into the background against better-known brands. Finding a design that contrasts your competitors can be more effective, if you get the design right. Retail environment testing (or in-store shelf testing) can show you precisely how well certain packaging designs can draw the eye of the average consumer, by having real shoppers encounter them amongst other products to see if they catch their attention.
The protective capabilities that you need
Of course, packaging isn’t just designed to look good and to help products fly off the shelves. It’s also designed to make sure that they are protected, whether it be from damage, from cross-contamination, or otherwise. Which kind of packaging your use depends largely on the safety regulations you might have to follow with specific product types. For instance, flexible packaging might be vital for organic products, such as foods, that have odd shapes that may not fit into the average box. More fragile items might need to have some level of protective padding around them or be designed to minimize vibrations and impacts as best as possible. Figure out what kind of protection you need in place to keep your products safe, secure, and healthy.
Of course, you need to consider the costs of any and all packaging you add to your products. Otherwise, you will have to decrease your profit margins by eating more of the cost or you will have to raise the cost of the product, which can lose you sales. There are various ways to reduce the cost of the packaging, such as by using specific materials like paper bags or polythene bags. You can also use package designs that use fewer materials so that each product costs less to package. If you are able to make your own packaging, then the total costs of packaging can be reduced by bringing it in-house instead of outsourcing it, but that’s not a step that most businesses can afford to do, since the initial cost-of-ownership can be very high.
Nowadays, customers are more concerned with the environment than ever. As such, you might want to make sure that you are using sustainable and recyclable materials as best as possible through every step of manufacturing, including your products. Cardboard and paper-based packaging is one of the most easily manufactured, with PET plastic being slightly behind. Not all products can be kept fresh and safe in these kinds of packaging materials so you need to consider and weigh which matters more. At the end of the day, keeping your products compliant with any safety or contamination regulations will trump environmental concerns but, if you can afford to do so, assuaging customer guilt can make them more likely to buy your product.
With the tips above, you can make sure that your packaging catches the eye, sells your products and, most importantly, meets the specific needs of your products, too. Unless it ticks all of the above boxes, there are improvements that can and should be made.