Reaching consumers these days is difficult. No longer do traditional methods of advertising and marketing warrant their attention or their dollars. Creating an effective package design is one of the simplest and most cost effective ways to capture a consumer's eye but it requires ingenuity, creativity, and the ability to connect with your target market.
Let’s face it; consumers aren't particularly open to changing their purchasing habits or experimenting with new products. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? When introducing your product to consumers, you have to display ingenuity in your packaging design. Consumers look for packaging that's visually pleasing and representative of the actual product. Your package should demonstrate your company’s ability to uniquely display your product through color, size, or logos.
Just as with people, packages that are different tend to stand out. Using unusual colours, containers, and catch phrases are all effective ways to catch consumers' attention. You can reap huge rewards by using packaging design to market the same product to multiple target groups.
Product packaging can give new meaning to the same product for different consumers. It is important to note however, that creative packaging is no substitute for a great product. You don’t want to be known for being all action and no satisfaction.
Connecting with consumers
Consumers will purchase products because of a perceived need for them. Therefore, your package design must demonstrate a fulfillment of a need of some sort, as well as the benefits of choosing your particular product. Your package should elicit emotion from your consumer, whether it is happiness, serenity, or even hunger.
If there isn’t a feeling of excitement or necessity, you can bet your product will remain on the shelf. Consumers like to feel that a company is in touch with their specific needs and offers them something special. You must connect with your target audience.
Your package design is your product’s business card. For better or for worse your packaging design will be a significant deciding factor in whether or not your product is purchased.
Sustainability continues to be a buzz word and has become a major factor affecting operations in packaging.
Considerations in this area are now a fact of life with bioplastics and renewable resources such as sugar cane being serious participants in the event. But, it seems consumers still require greater clarity around what sustainable really is.
We are increasingly interested in our personal impact on the environment and are demanding more from manufacturers.
Australia’s packaging industry needs to participate seriously in co-ordinated and co-operative efforts around global packaging sustainability and to develop some honest measurement tools for the manufacturing industry to consider.
While we wait for strong leadership in this field to come to the fore, I challenge individuals to make sustainability a serious consideration; no matter the area of packaging in which you’re involved. I challenge you to ask your company what its stance is on sustainability and what its relevant policies are.
In the meantime we need to continue designing with the 3 Rs in mind: reduce, re-use, recycle.
Reduction ought to be considered in terms of light weighting and down gauging. Reduce the ullage in packs as well as the flap area of the pack.
Packaging designers should take into consideration potential changes in the distribution chain in order to balance package designs with the distribution environment. This will often result in good pallet utilisation.
Re-use refers mainly to domestic re-use for a range of purposes. Re-used by the consumer for the same or a similar purpose. For example woven polypropylene bags with handles can be used as a carry bag. These bags can also be used as building material especially in third world countries.
Recycle in terms of using both recycled materials for packaging end products and regularly using materials that are recyclable.
The packaging is to be designed to assist recycling. Where recycling facilities exist it should incorporate the appropriate recycling logo to encourage consumers to recycle the package. Look alike packaging in different materials should be avoided.
If the packaging is to be recycled it should be designed to be easily compressed to minimise the volume where possible. Practicable recycled material should be incorporated in the packaging material. If and where practical, the packaging should use only one material, or material which can be sorted, separated and reprocessed.
Plastic packaging should be clearly identified with the Plastics Coding System.
I found it interesting that at the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa, Brazil, Portugal and The Netherlands wore jerseys made entirely from recycled polyester. Each jersey was produced from eight recycled PET bottles. Nike sourced discarded PET bottles from Japanese and Taiwanese landfill sites and then melted them down to produce new yarn used for the jerseys.
This process saves raw materials and reduces energy consumption by up to 30 percent when compared to virgin material. Nike prevented nearly 13 million plastic bottles from going into landfill sites. This is just one example of what companies and individuals are doing out there to help our environment.
I would like to add another R: that of re-filling. Supermarkets are trialling machines that allow consumers to fill reusable pouches with fabric conditioner pumped from a 1000 litre container in the laundry aisle. What about cooking oil, fruit juice, shampoo? This could cascade to flour, sugar, cereals, the list goes on. Watch this space.
Pierre Pienaar MSc, FAIP
AIP Education Coordinator