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3 Crucial Attributes in Packaging Design

If packages could talk, they’d have a lot to say about what’s inside. Unfortunately, inanimate objects are not likely to explain why you should purchase them. Instead, marketers are tasked with the very important job of designing packaging which clearly shows the personality of every product. Whether it’s bold, serious, funny or anything in-between, these perfectly packaged personalities affect a customer's decision to purchase (or not purchase) the product inside. 

While we try not to judge any book (or product) by its cover, the cold, hard facts show that first impressions of packaging impact immediate and future buying choices. Creating a good product is simply half the battle. Therefore, packaging design must convey 3 very important attributes in one quick glance: Trust, Quality, and Results. In this blog, we’ll explore these 3 crucial attributes in packaging design and the psychology behind customer decisions.

1. Trust

Great packaging builds trust, even if the product inside is no different than the half-price counterpart waiting on the shelf below. If you’ve ever seen blind taste tests, you know that packaging can deceive consumers into thinking they’re purchasing something “better” than the alternative. So how do brands evoke trust through sight alone? This is done through a little thing known as brand recognition.

Did you know: 80% of people believe color increases brand recognition and people make subconscious judgments about products within the first 90 seconds of seeing it based on color alone? This means you have to convey your brand quickly and effectively for the chance to convince the buyer that your product is the one worth buying.

If soda companies removed their logos entirely, but kept their other brand colors and fonts, it would be just as easy for consumers to identify the product they’re purchasing. This trust becomes instinctive over time, and users expect to get the same great product each and every time they purchase well-branded, recognizable packages. 

Once a solid foundation of trust is established with your brand, it is still vitally important to explore variety and fresh takes on packaging to peak the interest of your buyers without becoming stagnant. According to Statista, approximately 40 percent of regular wine drinkers in Australia believed the appeal of the bottle or label design was an important factor when choosing wine in 2019. That figure stood at 35 percent for regular wine drinkers in Japan during the same year.


2. Quality

A quality product is one which stands out from its competitors on the shelf. Whether it differs in shape, color, or texture, unique products create an isolation effect. Being unique creates a psychological response which naturally captures human attention by simply standing out from the crowd. 

For example, with over 4,000 breweries currently brewing up new beers every day, your brand needs to allow for flexibility in order to accommodate different variations of beer and properly slate them for market in order to draw the eyes of the niche audience that will be judging your beer not only by the quality of the product inside, but also by its cover. states it perfectly – ”Both the design and the physical label have to get that point across and it is no easy trick.”

Have you ever felt subconsciously swayed to keep a box because it has a smooth, velvety finish? Or maybe you’ve picked up one too-many blankets because the material peekaboo was just THAT soft. Why? A unique, tactile experience may be the cherry on top when a customer makes the first move and picks up your product to inspect the package. 

Quality finishes create emotional responses from buyers because they’re not only buying the product inside, but also an enjoyable experience. Technical research is even conducted to observe the effectiveness of product experiences and is known as ethnography, or observation research. “Consumers can be observed shopping, reading labels and interacting with the package—with minimal bias and distortion. During a depth interview, the moderator is using ethnographic techniques; that is, the moderator is carefully watching the body language, facial expressions and movements of the respondent.”

3. Results

At the end of the day, every purchase is made with the intention in mind that a certain result will be obtained. These expectations can be altered by the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of packaging. Pharmaceutical packaging is a perfect example of the heavy impact of packaging to the end user – almost to a fault. “In 2013, a group of subjects in an Auckland University study were consciously changed from branded to generic beta-blockers. They reported more symptoms and side effects, despite both versions being placebos. The difference was all in the subjects’ heads.” 

What does this say then about packaging? Even if the product results are technically and biochemically the same, users can (and will) subconsciously create negative expectations or alter their results/relationship with a product based on the outward design.

On the other hand, many purchases are made without any intention of aiming for a result, simply because the appeal of product packaging “has the potential to trigger impulsive buying even for consumers with no intention to make a purchase.”

Now that explains why Target runs can easily turn into target marathons.

With these facts in mind, take an extra two seconds next time you’re analyzing your next purchase at the store. What exactly made you do a double take at the checkout line? Which items in your cart are there because they grabbed your attention, not necessarily because you needed them? If all packaging looked alike, which products would you actually pick up? 

You can thank packaging for just about every product sitting in your pantry, powder room, and everywhere in-between. This is why it’s crucial to get your packaging right, and dressed to impress your buyers. Need help designing your packaging? Reach out to us!