Not too long ago, the only purpose associated with product packaging was the safety of the product inside, which is why not much thought was invested in its design and style by business owners. However, its importance has increased profusely over the years. Product packing has now acquired the position of a pivotal marketing and advertising tool because of it being the first means of communication between a brand and its potential consumers.
When placed in an aisle amidst a plethora of your competitive brands, it is the packaging that makes your product stand out, the packaging that will entice your potential customers into picking up your product and enquiring about it, and the packaging that, as a result of evoking certain feelings and attitudes, will lead your potential customers into either buying your products or putting them back. This is why product packaging plays an important role in driving sales.
Research published in 2013 in the International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management showed that visual aspects of packaging greatly influence the consumers’ perception of brand quality and value. Another study published in Psychology & Marketing in 2013 showed results revealed from an fMRI machine that attractive packaging has the potential to trigger impulsive buying behavior. It also revealed that attractive packaging triggers activities in areas of the brain associated with rewards, whereas unattractive packaging is associated with negative emotions.
How do well-designed and attractive packaging influence consumer behavior?
Attractive and well-designed packaging has a lot more to do with psychology than aesthetics. In psychological terms, packaging acts as a stimulus, which, if designed purposefully and carefully, elicits the desired responses from consumers i.e. them buying your product. Consumers don’t know how much of their buying decisions are directed just by packaging, but many marketers do, this is why they use psychology to guide their designing efforts.
Hence, effective packaging starts with understanding psychology and using it to lure your target audience. Some elements of packaging that exert great psychological effects on consumer buying behaviors, and therefore should be well-considered by brands, are:
Color is the most noticeable aspect of packaging. Not only do they make the packaging look visually appealing, but colors are powerful communication tools, that greatly influence the mood, feelings, physiological reactions, and buying decisions of consumers. For e.g. red color communicates passion and excitement, blue communicates trust and stability, yellow delivers warmth and optimism, and so on.
Choosing the right colors can communicate brand value, brand identity, and the type of message about the product you want to be communicated, on a psychological level. For e.g, the best colors for aromatherapy designed to relieve stress will be blue-green, which usually conveys peace, nature, and health.
2. Shape and Size
If you haven’t noticed already, most of the products whose target audience is males usually have a thick masculine shape with sharp edges and lines. Whereas those directed at females are slim with soft flowy lines, and curves. Knowing your target audience and designing the shape and size of your product accordingly can largely influence consumers’ buying decisions.
Some shapes evoke feelings as well, like pure shapes and lines with no context evoke feelings of awe and excitement. Slim products evoke health-related thoughts. Unique shapes help make your product stand out.
This is why the psychological effects of shapes and sizes are an important thing to be considered.
Buying decisions are not just influenced by how the package looks but also by how it feels as well. Brands should, therefore, not underestimate the importance of creating positive tactile experiences for consumers.
Consumers would want to hold onto those products a bit longer that are pleasant to touch, that feel smooth, silky, luxurious, soft, and fluffier. This will prolong their sense of psychological ownership, which will most likely motivate them into purchasing the product. For e.g. do we not feel like buying plushes because they feel so soft and snugly? Or do we not love to hold books whose covers have embossed or engraved textures, because they feel so different and regal?
In short, well-designed and well-optimized packaging that utilizes psychology can go a long way in setting your brand apart, attracting people, and boosting sales.