When is a package not a package, but a product? Answer: When it doubles as a wine rack.
The goal of any package designer is to get a package design displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Ha, ha! Just kidding. (Not really) The goal of any good package designer is to create a package that is unique, functional, protective and environmentally responsible. The wine rack package achieves all four qualifications, and yet it isn’t precisely packaging (that would be the wine bottle), since it is a supplementary item that may or may not be needed or wanted by the consumer; it is perfectly reasonable to purchase multiple bottles of wine on their own without a manufacturer’s carrying case. However, is it a cool concept? Yes. Do we wish we thought of it? Well, dunno … maybe? Whatever. Shut up.
Bruised though our egos may be, we will concede the point that turning a package into a product is a fantastic way of minimizing the environmental burden of unnecessary waste while highlighting a brand and protecting a product. This isn’t an entirely new concept; manufacturers have used packaging that doubles for display cases when selling in bulk to retailers for years. When you have a multi-purpose package, you give the consumer the opportunity not only to use and enjoy the product and package, but to always be reminded of the product and the absence of that product when the consumer looks at the empty rack. “My goodness,” the consumer will think. “I am in desperate need of more [insert brand name here] Chardonnay! I must hasten to my local purveyor and procure more of this first-rate product forthwith!” Yes, that is how all wine drinkers talk.
Secondary Purpose Packaging
Not all multi-use packaging needs to have a specific purpose, although it should be purposefully designed, and recycling does not necessarily mean dumping your plastic and glass containers in a blue bin and forgetting about them. A well-designed package that is aesthetically pleasing can find a home in a consumer’s many other daily applications, particularly if that consumer is a hoarder.
We’ve seen many high-end, durable and well constructed shopping bags that can double as, well, shopping bags. If the bag is made of heavy, reinforced paper or fabric and can withstand many uses, then the consumer will likely reuse it several times for taking lunch to work, or taking items to the beach, or any kind of material transport up to and including shopping; all the while prominently displaying the brand.
The same goes for attractive glass containers like jars or bottles. If the jar is beautifully designed, it can double as a display jar for toiletries or office supplies or knick-knacks. And again, a well designed package has not only encouraged the consumer to make that initial purchase, but has also succeeded in implanting the brand into the consumer’s brain.
Welcome to the Hard Times
We might be loath to admit it, but many of us simply do not have money to burn. Package design that gives the impression of durability and multi functionality is going to be very attractive to a consumer that wants to spend his or her dollars wisely. Carefully considered packaging is an indication of product quality. And even though we might not have the cash to spend on items that are purely luxurious, we might be persuaded to spend a few extra cents on something that is well-constructed, well-designed, multi-use and lovingly made.
So, what have we learned today? We learned that show-offs have gone and made a wine case that doubles as an elegant wine rack. We learned that secondary use packaging is a boon to a product brand, and serves to remind the customer of the product in a persistent and even haunting manner. Lastly, we learned that we can recycle both by dumping our empty bottles in a recycle bin and by carrying our lapdogs in a gently used Victoria’s Secret bag.