In product development, packaging solves problems. An innovative product idea needs the right packaging to be functional for its target consumer. Product packaging innovations take advantage of style trends in a target demographic’s tastes while complementing the product with a packaging solution that improves the user experience.
In this article, we discuss how product packaging can improve sales and solve consumer problems by:
- Communicating your product’s functionality through packaging
- Addressing key values in your target demographic
- Innovating within your field
- Communicating your company’s marketing message
In his eBook, Microinteractions: Designing with Details, Dan Saffer wrote that “the difference between a good product and a great one is its details.” The presentation of a product’s packaging, from its first impression to its functionality, is one of the most significant details you could address.
Functional packaging catches the consumer’s eye because a functional design implies a functional product. Expectations for the product begin as soon as the customer sees the packaging. Consider the packaging of Apple products – they are designed with the sleek attentiveness to design that buyers expect from the products themselves. They are reflections of a company message.
At the point of purchase, whether online or in stores, your package has only a few seconds to sell the product’s quality and function to your target consumer, but it can do it with the right design.
Solving Problems With Consumer Product Packaging
“Packaging” is an umbrella term that covers multiple design topics, including logos, markings, expiration dates, copy, and more. However, the structure of the package itself provides the clearest communication of functionality between your company and your buyers – and in the best of cases – can help solve problems.
As the size of the box communicates the size of the product, every design choice can impact the user experience or encourage your customers to think of the product in a certain way. Consider Nottingham Spirk’s innovation of the paint can for the Dutch Boy paint brand. In an industry whose designs had not advanced in decades, an innovative solution for DIY homeowners led to the creation of Twist & Pour Paint Container, replacing the metal lids that painters had been prying off for decades. This 100% recyclable solution with a molded plastic handle and pour spout, was named of Brand Packaging Magazine’s “10 Best Packages of the Decade.”
The goal of retail product packaging is to convince a customer that the product solves some of their needs or wants, and can do so better than any other product in its category. As a twist-off paint can immediately communicate functionality and innovation to its target buyer and provides a better user experience, any product’s packaging can be matched to a buyer’s need for innovative, useful designs.
Address Your Demographic’s Values
Beyond functionality, packaging that is structured to connect to your target demographic’s values improves your company’s relationship with them. Consider this study that suggests that two-thirds of customers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. Knowing this, you may be able to price a sustainable product higher to include the value of sustainability if that value is communicated in the structure and messaging of a package, such as by the materials used, by prioritizing simple designs, and by displaying its eco-friendly status on the outside. Packaging and pricing go hand in hand because of this dependent relationship between product, package, and consumer expectations.
Products are designed with a demographic’s values in mind, so packaging should also reflect those values. Consider another example: a product designed for an older demographic. An experienced package designer would know to increase the font size on the packaging to cater to that target consumer. They would prioritize familiarity and ease of use, innovating without “complicating.”
Product packaging design is a reflection of the product’s values in the eyes of its target buyers, which is why the structure of the package itself can communicate a message that connects with consumers before they even touch it.
Case Study: Kraft YES Pack
The Kraft Heinz Company is the third-largest food and beverage company in North America and the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world, with eight $1 billion+ brands. A globally trusted producer of delicious foods, The Kraft Heinz Company provides high quality, great taste, and nutrition for all eating occasions whether at home, in restaurants, or on the go. However, they were looking to strengthen one of these areas in particular – the restaurant and large kitchen setting.
Large amounts of waste, costly transportation, and awkward packaging are nothing new to the bulk food industry, but Kraft was determined to break away from these norms. They approached Nottingham Spirk to identify the most needed areas of improvement and to deliver a packaging innovation that would put them above the competition. The result, the Kraft YES Pack.
By leaving the traditional, rigid packaging design in the past, Kraft's YES Pack eliminates 70 percent of transportation costs and uses 60 percent less plastic. The flexible packaging also allows consumers to squeeze the contents of the pack out, resulting in a 99 percent product yield.
With easy pour, dual-grip handles, a resealable cap, and a flexible body, it's no wonder the YES Pack was awarded the Dupont Packaging Award for customer experience and the Flexible Packaging Gold Achievement Award. The real trick is making a flexible package that stands up on the shelf, which it does too. The ease of use created by this product innovation results in an overall happier, cleaner, and more efficient kitchen experience.
The Importance of Product Packaging Innovation
Packaging innovations are crucial for successful products. A company experienced in product packaging can recruit design trends to the side of your company’s unique message. As you would not release a product without first designing its functions to cater to your target consumer, your packages should not reach store (or site) shelves without being designed to communicate to the same consumer.