Everything You Thought You Knew About Packaging Design Is Wrong

We all know that the retail environment is changing at a rapid pace and the functional needs of shopping are not what they used to be. The reality is shopping happens everywhere. The point of purchase can be anytime and anyplace as long as you have access to a computer or smart phone. Couple this with the emergence of packaging-free retailers who sell product in bulk, and the result is a completely new paradigm for packaging design to live in.

Packaging Design takes on a new role.

Within the new definition of retail and changes in the ways brands engage with consumers at the point of purchase, packaging design is required to work that much harder. As an incredibly important asset in a brand’s toolkit, packaging should not be considered as merely a functional vessel to protect your product and advertise it on shelf. Packaging needs to be leveraged as a vehicle for brand experience.

Brand owners need to stop thinking about packaging design as a necessary retail-evil, and start thinking about it as a tool of consumer engagement in both the analogue and digital worlds.

The job of packaging is to engage the consumer at the point of consumption and beyond – think unboxing – and create a brand experience that builds equity. All aspects of the physical experience of the brand from structure, graphics, and materials have the opportunity to communicate the brand narrative in a memorable way. And, consider the opportunities when we take that experience to the digital world. Emerging technology in augmented reality could make that possible in the very near future.

As brands consider the evolution of their packaging design within the changing retail landscape, it’s important to de-prioritize functional objectives that have led design briefs for decades. The real opportunity lies in thinking about packaging design in a broader light, as experience, as communication, and as engagement. Because, the truth is one day your product may no longer be in a package as we know it today.