How Product Packaging Affects Buying Decisions
There are at least two types of shoppers. There are those who have a shopping list, whether physical or mental, go to the store, pick what they need and leave.
Then there are those who have a shopping list, just like the other group, but once in the store, they somehow forget it.
These are those who know what they need, what they want and everything in between.
But upon seeing the options available, even if none of them is really new, they start wondering what to pick.
Which kind of shopper are you?
Chances are that you struggle in staying focused when shopping. You suddenly realize how good a product looks and strongly feel that it’s a good one to buy.
The looks of a product has a direct effect on it’s attractiveness. The more attractive the product is, the higher the chances of it being bought.
This can only mean one thing: the packaging of a product is not by chance. It’s deliberate. In fact, it’s part of the manufacturer’s strategy to drive more sales.
If you find yourself unable to resist the charm of a product’s package, then know that the people behind the packaging are good at what they do. If you have a business or intend to start one soon, you can learn a lot from this.
Let’s look at how product packaging helps companies make more sales and hopefully, more profits.
HOW PRODUCT PACKAGES LEAD TO MORE SALES
When you buy something, you’re interested in what’s inside the package and not the package itself. But how did you end up picking that specific product? Why that brand?
Reasons for buying from a specific brand are many. But one thing for sure is that you consider the package.
You may love the brand so much that you don’t mind a plain old and boring package. However, if you could just admit it, you really wish such a brand could improve on their packaging efforts.
You probably see better-looking products but choose your preferred brand for quality or even health reasons.
So why can’t you avoid liking that package even if you’re not buying the product?
As a human being, some things are just natural and hard to resist.
You’re naturally pulled to attractive things and will even want them for yourself. In some cases, especially if your desires have greater control of your decision-making process, you can even borrow in order to experience that good thing.
Your logic and emotions are always fighting to control your will power.
As that battle rages, someone somewhere is hoping your emotions win the battle so he makes money from that victory.
Marketers all over the world target your emotions because they have scientific proof that emotions are more powerful than logic.
Products are therefore designed to be attractive, not so that they look good, but to entice you to buy. It’s almost like a temptation to do something you’re not willing to do.
A new company knows that you’re fond of the established company’s products.
For that reason, you’re likely to buy from them and not a new company. So, together with other marketing efforts, they have to ensure their product does a few things.
Here are three of them:
- Catch your attention – if you walked into a retail store of any kind and some items caught your attention, it may not be accidental. The manufacturer did a good job in making the product attractive and the store employee positioned it at the right place.
Once your attention goes to something, you become interested. That is the first step towards buying. To a sales person or marketer, showing interest means you want to buy, whether you have the money or not.
- Trigger your emotions – but often, you won’t buy simply because the product is attractive. Although some people may, not you. You’re smarter than that, right?
Yeah, right, but maybe, just maybe, the people behind the brand are smarter than you think. If you have ever found yourself buying things on impulse, there’s your proof.
You fell for something and that was the emotional trigger that was attached to the product’s package.
Emotional triggers work by pulling the strings connected to your historical or present situation. They make you remember something, good or bad, and show you how much you need to act.
An example is where you see a product and remember the fun moments you had with your friends the last time you bought the it. You know that the product is great because you enjoyed it last time.
Since seeing it makes you want the experience, you start thinking of buying it.
- Speak to your situation – with the trigger pulled, other aspects of the package speak to you and offer solutions which you realize are just what you need. If your logic is still wielding its influence, you may pull your phone out and do some research on the product ingredients.
If your emotions are at the driver’s seat, then picking the product, happy to solve your problems, is the natural thing to do. You’re happy and so is the manufacturer of the product. Everyone wins.
This doesn’t mean that marketers and businesses in general take advantage of you.
It just means that businesses have embraced science. They make good use of scientific research to increase their sales and profits.
HOW PRODUCTS ARE PACKAGED FOR MAXIMUM SALES
Unless you’re keen and maybe even know a thing or two about marketing, you may not be able to recognize these truths.
But from this article, you’ll be able to learn the thinking behind product packages.
With that knowledge, any time you look at products and feel drawn to them, you can take a step back and see what is happening.
Here are the things which constitute marketing through product packaging.
The shape of the package may not seem like much. But despite the fact that what truly matters is what is inside, the outside does matter too.
Think about luxury cars. In essence, they all have almost the same things but the exterior is what draws all the attention. Once you’re attracted by the outside, chances of loving what’s inside are increased.
The shape of the package is majorly used to draw your attention to the product. And the good thing about shape is that there is a lot of flexibility that can be applied.
Packages don’t have to be square, round, triangle etc. Such shapes are okay and can serve the purpose in certain cases. But let’s face it. They are quite boring.
A creative designer can come up with a shape that’s quite out of the norm. Such a shape will stand out and catch your attention from a distance. It is that uniqueness that will be responsible for making you interested.
The shape of the package is also used to distinguish it from others. It’s an opportunity to create a unique feel once the product is in your hands.
This unique feel will then create memories and if you like it, you’ll most likely buy the same product again and again.
You want to experience that feel. The shape has become part of the product. If that shape was to change to something else, your satisfaction from using the product will also change. You might even stop buying it.
Colors are also important. In fact, the colors used on a package might as well be the ones attracting you to the product in the first place. The creative use of colors can easily make a product stand out in a shelf full of similar products.
And with your attention drawn to it, that becomes the beginning of your product experience.
Colors have a powerful effect and the brain interprets them differently. It has also been shown that colors trigger emotional responses. Even in offices, certain colors are used in favor of others.
The colors on product packages are deliberately chosen so as to trigger specific emotional responses. This is called the psychology of colors and marketers use it to encourage you to buy from them.
Here are a few colors and what they’re likely to make you feel or expect from the product.
- Yellow/orange – these two colors can be used differently but often cause you to feel and expect some happy moments. They brighten you up and almost get you thinking of time with friends or family. Ads about fun activities and vacations often feature these colors.
- Red – red is a powerful color and in different situations may be used to send different messages. This color is often used in two ways: to depict danger or create excitement.
Products which should be carefully handled will include the red color as a warning. The text might also be in red. On the other hand, this color can also be used to create feelings of excitement. Toys and games often include portions of the packaging done in red color.
- Green – this is the color of the environment. Green signifies a friendliness to the environment. It also ignites feelings of harmony and growth.
- White – white is quite versatile and can be used in many ways. It’s often used as a background color then other colors are used to bring the desired effect. White symbolizes simplicity and purity. As an example, you’ll find milk packets full of the color white.
White also symbolizes innocence and purity. As such, children’s products will often be in white packages. The color itself will tell you that it’s important to keep the product and package clean to maintain the purity.
- Black – black is also versatile and appears in many places. However, in many times, black is used to convey power. Have you ever noticed that many premium products, especially for men, are black or packaged in black? The message to men is that they’ll be associated with power.
As social media will tell you, images are powerful. They communicate better than plain text. Images are also more attractive to the human brain than text because the brain understands things visually.
When you read a story for example, your brain uses the words written to paint an image which it then interprets for your understanding. The more descriptive the words, the better the image painted by your brain.
The power of images comes from the fact that the brain sees them as semi-processed inputs.
If the brain creates images from text so that you can understand, what happens when it receives an image?
It’s work significantly reduces. You get to understand more quickly and the brain is able to dedicate its resources to other things.
When images are included in product packages, they give you a better experience than when they’re missing.
Have you ever noticed that very few products get packed in such a way that you can’t see what’s inside?
It’s intended by the manufacturer that you see what is inside. It’s usually part of the marketing strategy.
You must be shown what you’re buying, even if you’ll be shown just a small part of it. In fact, it’s only in few cases that you’ll be shown a huge part of what you’re buying.
This is meant to raise your expectation so that your desire for the product increases. In seeing part of it, you’ll want to buy it so you can open and experience the whole of it.
In some products like cooking oil, the package might be completely transparent. The package is usually a transparent glass or plastic bottle.
This can be used to show you the quality of the product or some subtle differences between two versions. For instance, the renowned healthy olive oil comes in various versions.
Two common types are the extra virgin and light oils. Using a transparent bottle, it’s easier to see the difference between the two even without anyone explaining it to you. You can tell that the one which is darker has something which the other one doesn’t have.
Depending on your needs, knowledge of the differences, you can make a purchasing decision faster and better. Thus if one brand packed the two oils in bottles which don’t show you the difference immediately, you’ll likely go with the one showing it.
The material used to package products also plays a role in helping you decide whether to buy or not. This can be a determining factor especially for the environment-conscious customer.
In many places in the world, plastic is considered bad for the environment. They cannot be disposed of well and even burning doesn’t help. In fact burning is worse for the environment.
If you are environment-conscious, you’ll likely be displeased by plastic packaging. And if that’s all that there is in the market, a brand using recyclable material will surely stand out and win your love.
If your love for the environment is strong enough, you can even go further than that. You might even decide to compromise on quality for the sake of supporting the environment-conscious company.
Logos and Brand Names
Logos and brand names also have a role to play in the package of a product. It may seem as if they are there just for the sake of identifying the manufacturer of the product. But that is not the whole story.
For established businesses or brands, just their name alone is enough to sell a product. For that reason, the inclusion of the company logo and brand name is more than for identification purposes.
Take an example of two Macbooks placed side by side. One has the Apple logo while the other has the logo of another company. Which one do you think will be bought as a Macbook?
Despite the similar looks, the one with a logo different from Apple’s will be taken to be an imitation of the real thing.
Try the same experiment with say, Dell laptops designed for the business executive. Have one with the Dell logo and the other with the Apple logo.
As long as you’re selling to someone who prefers Apple, they would believe the Dell laptop with Apple’s logo is made by Apple. The logo alone can make him buy.
The other element of the package is the typography. This is all about the fonts used to display text information on the package.
Fonts are important and are a crucial part of the message being communicated.
For example, when writing formal letters, it’s usually advisable to write in Times New Roman or Arial fonts. Using some fancy fonts like those used by graphic designers might cause your message not to be taken seriously.
If that was an application for a job, you’re likely to miss the opportunity despite your qualification.
Another example is that of a wedding card. The fonts used when designing a wedding card cannot be the same as those used in formal letters.
The same applies to products. Depending on the purpose of the product and the targeted customer, the fonts used will differ greatly.
Another significant part of the package is the product information available. This is especially important in this age of heightened health concerns.
Product information is easily seen in food products.
With many Americans keen on reducing their intake of calories, the information provided on a product’s package has become important. And with industry regulators pushing manufacturers to disclose information, the customer is now empowered.
The manufacturer who wants to encourage customers to pick his product prints more information. But it’s not just any information but the information likely to get you to prefer one product over the other.
A good example can be seen in two make-up products both said to lighten the skin color. One could have information about how it works whereas the other, additionally has the label “paraben-free.”
For anyone familiar with the discussions about parabens, they know, almost instinctively, that what they need to take is the one written “paraben-free.”
Even without knowing what exactly paraben is, it’s easy to associate it with something bad or dangerous. Since no-one wants dangerous products in their home, won’t it be better to buy the one free of harmful ingredients?
A product’s package may seem to have very little use to a consumer once it’s time to use it.
But do you see how big a role it plays in the decision making process?
The knowledge used by the package designers can be used by anyone designing any product’s package.
And for those shopping moments, you now know why you keep buying that product which looks so good.