How’s Your Product Package… ing?

April 20, 2020

Author: Liam Dunne

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ever thought about the importance of your product packaging? Even though it’s what’s on the inside that counts, your packaging is the first thing your customers will see and touch.

Often businesses are tempted to place little value or effort into packaging their product because they see it as a cost instead of an opportunity. But if you see it as an opportunity, you have the chance to tell a story and create an experience for you customer, one that will resonate with them and bring them back to buy from you again.

So, what do you need to consider when it comes to packaging?

  1. What is the product itself? A product’s natural state (solid, gas or liquid), category (food, beverage, clothing, etc.), size and shape will all have a bearing on what your choice of packaging is, as what works for one, will certainly not work for all.
  2. Who is buying your product? Knowing your target market and their buyer personas SHOULD have a significant influence over both your choice AND design of packaging.
  3. How are people buying your product? Is it online or offline? Niche retail business or supermarket? Where your item is being seen and how many other products are competing alongside your product in the same space, will be the final piece of the puzzle that you need to consider.

Package Layers

Your product will generally have three package layers:

  1. Outer packaging: the box your online order comes in or shopping bag at your boutique gift store
  2. Inner packaging: packing peanuts, tissue paper, bubble wrap or wood shavings
  3. Product packaging: the wrapping/box containing the actual product

Not every product will always have all three elements, but each element provides its own opportunity for originality and showcasing brand values. You may also have an opportunity to do something your competition is not. A good example of this would be Go-Gurt who were first to introduce a suckable Yoghurt pouch, where before, it had always been in a pot that you needed a spoon for.


While most businesses will rightly focus on product and product development first, if you don’t leave enough in the budget for your packaging design, it may fail to fly off the shelves. Your considerations here are two-fold. One off cost, such as initial design, setting up print runs, etc, and then per item costs, generally materials and any labour requirements.

Brand Requirements

We all know how important consistency is to brand strategy. When it comes to your packaging, you need to ensure you are following all your brand guidelines. Colours, fonts, logo, etc should all be included somewhere on a layer of your product packaging. You could choose to ascribe a different brand element to each different packaging layer, but make sure they are all in there somewhere. With so many unboxing videos now on YouTube, you don’t want to be the company who’s packaging looks lame. First impressions matter!

Packaging Content

This might include

  • instructions/directions
  • useful product information you need to impart to the customer
  • product imagery you use on the packaging
  • required information such as country of origin or nutritional values
  • temporary content, like batch numbers or expiry dates.

Once you have considered all the above factors, and have a couple of design options in mind, you need to evaluate your design. Here are a few questions you can ask to make sure you’ve hit a home run with your packaging.

  • Is it clear what the product is?
  • Is the product honestly represented by/on the packaging? You can’t put a photo of a clean, healthy set of lungs on a cigarette packet for example.
  • What is the shelf appeal of the packaging? Unless you are your own store selling your own product exclusively, your packaging needs to catch the eye among many other products. 
  • Is it versatile, can the same design be reused if for example you develop another flavour?
  • Is it reusable? More and more we are looking to be ecologically sound in our decision making, so can it be easily re-used or re-purposed? How great would it be if you could keep your brand in your customers mind long after the initial product has been consumed? 
  • Is it collectable? Is your packaging so good, that someone would want to keep it, after the product has been consumed? (Hands up who has a Crystal Head vodka bottle on the shelf at home?)

Key Takeaways

In the current times of unboxing videos and social media, product packaging is now more important than ever to create a great experience for your customer. Great packaging design is vital to ensure your customer has a great first experience.