A Victoria’s Secret shopping bag. The Carolina Herrera Good Girl perfume bottle. A bottle of Bombay Sapphire. You’ll have to agree that you’ve bought or wanted to buy at least one of the above brands majorly because of the packaging. 

For a professional working in a product company, it is inevitable that one would have an interaction with the concept of product packaging at some point in their career. Product packaging is an extremely important element of marketing, and especially in today’s context could very easily be decisive for the brand’s success or failure in the market. 

Packaging already serves several important roles which includes informing the customer’s decision journey. Before we buy a product we always tend to look at the packaging both in terms of look & feel and ease of use. Therefore, packaging acts as a key element when it comes to product promotion and in setting them apart from competitors. It also plays an important role in ensuring that the product is protected and its price justified.      

Rapid digitalization and the systematic movement of most brands to an online platform makes the packaging that much more important as brands have to keep in mind several additional factors – a strong shift towards sustainability, visual appeal on digital devices and reduced attention span.

With a recurring lockdown procedure, most of us have now shifted to shopping from online retailers rather than physical stores and markets. In the past several decades, one’s packaging was designed in order to draw attention to specific store shelves. However, now the focus has shifted towards creating packaging that will attract customers on websites and applications. For instance, if certain brands use colour blocking methods to attract attention to its products on store shelves at the supermarket, the same outlook might not work on an online platform like Amazon. A brand’s consistency in visual communication becomes increasingly important at this time and packaging must take a turn towards catering to direct-to-consumer models. The amount of time people spend on these applications isn’t much, therefore it is imperative for the product to grab their attention the moment they see it. 

An effective way to attain this is by having knowledge of one’s customer base and the kind of products that work for them. At a time when everything is digital, the aesthetics of the brand becomes increasingly important. On a digital platform when all information regarding a product is readily available at the time of purchase it might prove beneficial for brands to get rid of unnecessary information from their packaging to make it clutter-free and consequently more pleasing to the eye. 

Many companies therefore have taken a shift towards not just promoting a product but a lifestyle. As consumers, we are more likely to repurchase a product that made us feel good right from the moment we receive the package in our hand to the time we finish using it. Unboxing videos of well designed packages are a sure shot method of garnering publicity. Personalization in the form of thank you cards, custom notes, stickers and other products play an extremely important role in making the customer feel like they are valued by the brand and keeps them engaged. Maintaining an aesthetic colour palette that would appeal to the new age Pinterest and Instagram users, too, is crucial.

Consumers’ increasing awareness of hygiene and adequate safety measures are also an extremely important factor when it comes to thinking about packaging designs. Most of us have been worried about contracting the COVID-19 virus from packages that get delivered to our homes and a lot of us have taken to personally disinfecting all items – be it food or anything else – the moment they come into our homes. Therefore it is important that brands keep several considerations in mind when it comes to packaging designs in keeping with the current trends. One possible way of addressing this issue can be by increasing barrier protection in packaging by using coatings or coverings that keep the main package and the contents inside untouched and undisturbed. 

Finally, at a time when resources are at an all time low, and their impact on the planet irreversible, it is essential that packaging shifts towards a more sustainable narrative. There must be a dedicated move towards removing unnecessary packaging, reducing packaging waste and an increase in the type of packaging that can be reused or recycled into something that will also create utility. 

At a time when global trends are constantly changing and evolving – embracing frequent pivots in packaging design becomes extremely important. Businesses that create new and innovative packaging keeping the online platform at the forefront (cue: Sugar Cosmetics and Snackible), maintaining high quality hygiene and moving towards a more sustainable alternative can rest assured knowing that they are moving in the right direction in the ‘new normal.’