It may be cynical, but the quality, workmanship and usefulness of your product means, essentially, nothing. This is why no one except the most diehard of all hipsters will purchase your excellent product if you merely shove it into an uninteresting bag or box. It may cheap and easy to do that, but retail is a style over substance business, friend-o.
You’ve worked hard on your product; why not go that extra mile to ensure that your package attracts the maximum number of customers? Oh, it ain’t cheap, as we’ve said again and again and again, but the cost of a warehouse full of products no one is buying is waaaaay higher.
Of course, we’re speaking primarily to the manufacturers of luxury items; items that must by their very nature be distinct in order to survive and even thrive. We recognize the fact that consumers aren’t exactly screaming for unique packaging solutions for, say, apples, but if you produce ice cream, sports drinks, leave-in conditioner or any other product that a customer wants but could definitely live without, the package must be tidy, distinct and alluring.
Shipping products ain’t packaging.
There’s an industry of shipping suppliers that want small product manufacturers to believe that they are a legitimate alternative to proper product packaging. Do not be fooled. Shipping supplies are shipping supplies and nothing more. They do not provide marketing solutions, they do not encourage brand loyalty and, most importantly, they are not attractive.
There is a common expectation of a particular quality of packaging for certain products – just ask any winery. There might be some perfectly lovely wines being sold in boxes or in bottles with screw tops, but it will take some kind of global vineyard revolution to make the wine-buying public believe that those wines are for anyone other than bedraggled, superannuated alcoholics who only drink it when turpentine isn’t available.
Alright – you might be able to get away with minimalist packaging if you are producing a generic version of some luxury items or items that are purchased in bulk, but if you want to be a force in the marketplace and not just an inexpensive alternative to a known commodity, you’ll need well thought out packaging solutions.
Packaging is a part of the product.
We’re huge proponents of multi-use packaging. Wine crates that double as wine display cases; shopping bags that can be used again and again; old timey tea tins that are so durable and aesthetically pleasing that they can be used as storage containers, etc. When a consumer sees a product in a package that can be used in another application, that consumer is more likely to buy, because a consumer reacts to both beauty and multi-dimensionality.
The quality of the packaging is also an indication of the quality of the product. A conscientiously designed package can go very far in convincing a customer that the product inside is well made and worth buying.
So, what have we learned today? We learned that, despite the best efforts of the better angels of our nature, we respond more favorably to glamour than to quality. We learned that using generic packaging is only harmful to the product manufacturer that wants to distinguish his/her product from other, similar products in the marketplace. We learned that wine bottle packaging will probably never change until wine drinkers no longer care about maintaining a veneer of urbane sophistication at all costs. Most importantly, we learned that product packaging is direct extension of the product itself, so if the product is merely enclosed in a plastic zippered bag, it tells the customer that the product itself is, at best, cheap and at worst, stolen.