How To Establish Your Competitive Edge Through Packaging

  • January 17, 2020 at 8:26 AM EST
  • By Phil Bagdasarian, Packwire
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When it comes to shopping, most consumers toss logic and research aside. Studies have shown that people tend to react instinctively, making decisions based on subconscious responses to color, form and familiarity. In order to establish an emotional connection with buyers and sell more products, businesses should focus on creating informative packaging that incorporates a unique and memorable design.

Projecting a brand’s message through packaging is one of the most effective ways to trigger customer purchases. As such, looking beyond packaging’s functional use will help solidify consumers’ buying preference over the competition. The right packaging should be developed with customer loyalty and engagement in mind, employing methods that initiate instant recognition while providing added value and flexibility.

The following fundamental factors in package development will help businesses establish their competitive edge:


Standing out: A simple and honest branded message that conveys a product’s uniqueness through striking visuals can have an immediate and positive effect on a customer’s decision-making process. Combining functionality with a visually appealing design is one of the best ways to attract attention and make a product “pop” on a store shelf.

Digital advantage: Thanks to cost effective short runs, packaging can remain in a constant work-in-progress state, enabling businesses to adapt to shifting economics, varied demographics, promotions, market life and changes in ingredients or warning labels. On-demand digital print methods supply fast turnaround times and help reduce redundant inventory and storage costs.

Adding extras: Adding product samples or unexpected gifts to packaging not only helps elevate a business from the competition but also adds value, creating an element of surprise that makes customers feel appreciated.

Promotions that sizzle: Promotional coupons are a low-cost method that can help increase revenue and build customer loyalty. They are also an efficient and inexpensive marketing tool that can create brand awareness, attract new customers and reward existing ones. When it comes to e-Commerce, highly targeted inserts that offer discounts, free shipping, upgrades or promo codes are a valuable addition to any delivered package. These types of promotions can be distributed through many different channels such as email and direct mail.

Perfecting The Design

The options for developing the right package design can seem endless but skimping on this important step can stifle any successful marketing campaign. An unboxing experience should be exciting, motivating buyers to share their delight with others on social media. This type of online buzz spawns positive user-generated content and starts conversations that can result in increased sales and awareness.

The following design tips will make any box jump off the shelf:

Outside design: The last thing customers should feel when looking at packaging is confusion. Box designs shouldn’t be packed with tons of information. Doing so will only create visual chaos, which will push customers away. Instead, it’s recommended to keep text, photos and graphics to a minimum while conveying a clear and focused message. Use bold colors, large, cheeky fonts or cool, creative illustrations that will set the stage for a dramatic design that people won’t soon forget. Adding an element of luxury will also help lock in modern customers who enjoy upscale touches that reflect quality and care. Reflective surfaces, high-gloss spot coatings, metallic sheens, foil stamping, embossing, pearlized finishes and soft-touch coatings can be used on everything from beer cartons to cereal boxes.

Inside design: Branding doesn’t need to be restricted to the exterior of a package. The interior of a box is valuable real estate, offering the space necessary to create a dazzling visual and tactile experience. An unexpected pop of color or bright pattern will make a powerful statement.

Organization: A box should be like a display case: clean, clear and orderly. Packing peanuts and bubble wrap are universally disliked, so these should be avoided. Pads, custom inserts, crinkle paper, bags or cardboard dividers are a preferred alternative to keeping products secure and organized. This is especially important in e-Commerce where boxes are consistently shaken and rattled by delivery carriers.

Special touches: Inner embellishments such as tags, ribbon or cording are extremely effective in creating a special unboxing experience that is reminiscent of opening a gift. As an extra way to communicate warmth and add a personal touch, the product itself can be wrapped in Kraft paper or custom printed tissue.

Knowing What Customers Want

Consumers are becoming increasingly adventurous in their choices. Millennials are demanding that the products they acquire to produce life experiences. Pinning down exactly what customers want is a vital part of package development. For packaging, this involves many aspects, from presentation to sustainability. Because buyers rely on customer reviews and trust them over a business’ own branded efforts, it is worthwhile to get this right.

This list of trends and strategies will help deliver these expectations:

Providing an experience: Today’s customers want their purchases to be an adventure — to deliver an exciting and shareable moment. Fulfilling this requirement can be accomplished by perfecting the unboxing experience. Delivering a tactile, visual and emotional experience that wows will satisfy customers’ needs and cement their loyalty. The Internet is filled with videos that show people’s pleasure as they open whimsical and innovative packaging. The wondrous anticipation of the big “reveal” is palpable, so tapping into this emotion is a sure way to satisfy the craving.

Green is good: Ecological concerns are on the minds of many, infiltrating daily thoughts and habits that ultimately affect buying decisions. Ethical shopping has become the norm, with an increasing number of customers wanting products that support environmental efforts. Sustainable packaging can often be a decision factor in a buyer’s decision, so it is crucial to incorporate this factor in the overall design. When it comes to environmentally friendly solutions, corrugated fiberboards are at the top of the list. The materials are highly recyclable, manufactured from 70% to 100% renewable resources, reusable and require minimal energy to both manufacture and ship.

Other types of Earth-friendly solutions include flexible packaging such as lightweight pouches, which use minimal resources and are fuel efficient to ship. To strike a chord with customers, packaging should be kept to a minimum and be sourced from recycled and sustainable materials.

Second life possibilities: Developing packaging that has the potential for future usage is not only eco-friendly but also adds value, greatly influencing consumers during the decision-making process. Upcycling options are plentiful. Boxes that are both robust and attractive can be used for storage, while zip pouches can function as clutches or toiletry bags. Other ideas involve printed instructions and designs that allow packages to be converted into various items such as balls, projectors and even flower pots and planters. Second life designs are an area where creativity can really shine. With a little brainstorming, any business can come up with an idea can dazzles.

A little love: Including a handwritten thank-you note is a quick, inexpensive strategy that can make a major difference in how customers view a brand. The action will not just pleasantly surprise clients and create a positive memory of their purchasing experience but also help reinforce loyalty and engagement. Signed pre-printed cards or quality stationary with a simple note of gratitude can help create a connection with buyers — something large-scale companies simply cannot provide.

Phil Bagdasarian is the Co-Founder of Packwire, an online printing and packaging service that enables businesses to create their own box design, including branded mailers, folding cartons, shipping boxes and gift boxes.

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