In a world where both marketing and logistics play an enormous role in providing companies with consumer-facing sales product packaging has become big business – and companies who want to stay competitive need to have at least some knowledge of the options that they have as far as product packaging is concerned and the trends that are shaping this fast-evolving sector.
One of the most important factors in choosing the correct product packaging is to take into account the sector where that packaging will be used. For instance, the product packaging used in the manufacturing sector has some specific requirements.
Common materials in use include paper and board, plastics, glass, metal and then other materials making up a lesser percentage of the total packaging materials market.
The decision of what materials to use for product packaging will to a large extent depend on the product, as well as the processes that are used to manufacture it.
It is also important to note that the science of product packaging is developing at breakneck speed. Newer materials can mean lighter weights, better performance/toughness and also unique and innovative design.
Each of these factors will have a knock-on effect on storage and transportation requirements for the product – and will also directly influence consumer appeal when it comes to the product.
At the foundation of the successful use of product packaging must be a consideration of the following factors:
1. The flexibility of the packaging.
This is not only how flexible the material used in the packaging is – but also how easily it could be used for product extensions and other products in the same ‘family’. This has important cost implications.
2. Storage and transport.
Bulky packaging may appeal to consumers but increased sales may not cover the decreased capacity to store the packaged items in space efficient manner or store them in a way that maximizes the use of space.
Can the company make efficient use of the packaging material and does it have the capacity to do so.
The environment within which the product packaging will be used can be of overriding importance.
If the package is subjected to extremes of heat (take instance transportation across the cold chain) or will experience other extreme conditions this must be taken into account both when selecting the right material for packaging and how that packaging is designed.
There is also the matter of supply chain logistics. Perishable goods are a great example. A large percentage of perishable goods arrive at their destinations (consumer outlets) not suitable for sale. One of the ways to minimize this is to ensure that the packaging is correctly designed in order to contain information such as codes and labelling.
Of course, the product packaging must also be compliant with all local (and in some cases international) legislation. Other considerations also need to be taken into account such as how the packaging contributes towards adequate and optimize shelf life.
Of course, there is also the extremely important branding and marketing appeal of the product. this is often reflected in the packaging. It is important to realize that the consumer appeal of the product will often depend almost exclusively on the product packaging. A balance needs to be struck between visual appeal and the amount of information the packaging conveys to the consumer. This can be a delicate balancing act.
Consumers are looking for the ideal product packaging experience.
Factors such as proof against tampering – balanced with easy access to the packages can again be challenging. Increasingly consumers are also paying close attention to the ‘green credentials’ of the packaging – and with certain products, this can be an enormous concern.
Taking all these factors into account it becomes apparent that the design and manufacturing of product packaging is a multifaceted process which has to take into account a variety of factors. Cost, transportation and storage, visual appeal, ease of consumer use and design are all part and parcel of what will eventually constitute efficient. And above all attractive packaging that will improve the bottom line of the company.