April 8, 2014

5 Ways Packaging Can Transform Ho-Hum into Must-Have

5 Ways Packaging Can Transform Ho-Hum into Must-Have

If you have an unlimited budget, a marketing team working ’round the clock and several batches of focus groups, you might be able to turn your bargain basement product into a sought-after luxury item, but even then you’d be relying heavily upon luck. It is really difficult to determine what the market will uniformly embrace, but one of the best techniques is — weirdly — sincerity. If the product is honest about its aims and its history, the public will trust it. The curveballs of life.

Of course, we’re not in the business of convincing CEOs to come clean about their products’ questionable ingredients and possible slave labor — we’re not law enforcement or therapists, after all. If your product is universally ignored or your brand is inherently shifty, how do you convince the gullible masses that your wares are suddenly trustworthy? Ratchet up the class, amigos.

Elegant Packaging Designs

People trust quality packaging just about as much as they trust quality products. If a customer sees that a particular product is packaged with care, chances are he or she will fork over a few extra pennies for it, even if the item within that glorious package is something they could make with white vinegar and dishwashing detergent.

Bear in mind, elegant packaging designs are not a matter of encrusting your product with diamonds; they could mean smooth and sensual lines. Clean and uncluttered labeling. Sustainable materials. These little changes can make your product stand apart on a shelf full of proletariat utility items.

Stylish Labeling

Whatever expertise might have been absent for your product’s conception must be on call for your product’s label design. Being current with the style of the day gives a product an instant jolt of relevance. And it’s not just the font that needs the reinvigoration; the content could use a bit of freshening as well.

Label information is as important as design for boutique items. You have to know what is considered important today and stay on top of current trends for however long your product exists. For example, gluten, nuts, milk and soy are darned near fatal to a significant percentage of the population, so if your product is totally without those ingredients, play it up. Likewise if your product can be used by vegans, fruitarians and anyone on the Paleo Diet.

High-Quality Packaging Materials

Giving your packaging and labeling materials a bit of consideration can give your product an instant makeover. If you switch from your glossy, low quality plastic wrapping to a dense, heavy recycled paper, your product will be noticed. Likewise if you choose glass, metal or [gasp!] fabric. Talk about class!

Having an embossed, heavy paper label also reeks of sophistication. Switch from that peel-able plastic film to a velvety papyrus and watch the hipsters come ‘a runnin’.

Brands Sell Lifestyles, Not Products

Your public should fully recognize the benefits of using your product not only in terms of that product’s inherent utilitarian benefits, but also the social cachet it could potentially give them. Decide what kind of consumer would most appreciate your product and speak to him/her directly and no one else. This goes against every single natural marketing department instinct, but the more specific you are about who you are targeting, the more genuine your product will appear. Granted, a segment of your potential consumer base might feel alienated, but the people who couldn’t get into Studio 54 felt plenty alienated, and the owners sure didn’t suffer. (Well they did, actually, but for wholly different reasons.)

If your labeling grid space permits, maybe you can try including a little folksy story about the company’s origins. My great-grandpa sailed over from the old country in 1897 with a satchel of olive seeds, a near fatal bronchial infection and a dream…

Cultural Reference Point

Everyone loves a retro party. Think about giving your label a specific era — preferably the golden era for whatever it is you are selling. The 1920s was a fantastic time for cosmetics and (ironically) liquor; the 1970s was a mustache wax and tweed sport jacket diamond jubilee. Have fun with your labeling strategy!

Elegant packaging designs can save a product from obscurity or outright demise. Think about the sort of product you would personally want to use (and want people to think you use), and you’ll be well on your way to figuring out your ultimate packaging concept.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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