January 3, 2018

Packaging Design and the Emotional Purchase

Shoppers go into the store with different needs. Spendthrifts keep their wallets chained to a pack of junkyard dogs. It’s value above all else. Chefs and experts scoff at anything beneath their refined palates. They’re looking for quality without exception. Then, there’s everyone in between who’s looking to balance value and quality. Sometimes, you just need a freakin’ bar of soap. But there’s one thing that doesn’t change about consumer-level purchases: Emotion.

Consumer Goods are Emotional Purchases

Every product has some kind of utility to the buyer. There’s always some level of math going on in his or her head during the shopping process. However, consumer purchases are directed by emotion. It feels good to buy stuff. Different products prompt different associations, and branding dictates all of this.

Furthermore, it all starts with packaging. Specific colors can elicit feelings of hunger, calm, or cleanliness. We’re surrounded by these cues everywhere from red stop signs to green recycling symbols and beyond.  Everything from color and layout to typeface and dimensions affect an underlying subconscious process in a buyer’s mind. At its core, this process is emotional.

Competition is steep, and only the most eye-catching packaging design distinguishes itself on the shelf. But it isn’t just about the initial catch. We form bonds with products that we use regularly. Your tube of toothpaste is something familiar and clean. The packaging on your favorite stress snack makes you feel comforted. The box that your electronic goods come in gives you an almost sacred sensation as if you were unveiling a priceless artifact. All of these emotions factor into your buyers’ experience with your product and their perception of its value. These determine whether they want to make your product a regular part of their lives.

Invest in your Brand

It goes without saying that it’s worth dedicating your resources to packaging. All of the emotional depth attached to packaging comes straight back to your brand. It says a lot about you. Whether you’re going for the value product or the premium, exotic, familiar, healthful or comforting, there’s a specific image that you want to evoke through your packaging.

When you invest in your packaging design with a well-equipped, in-house team or with a branding agency, you’re putting value into your brand. The point of it all is to establish a relationship between your buyer and your brand, and as we all know, relationships are about – you guessed it – feelings.


by Kevin Smith
Managing partner at SmashBrand. We're a group of experienced brand owners, thinkers and world-class designers united by an obsession for creating category disrupting brand experiences.

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