Can packaging influence purchasing decisions?

Of all the functions of packagingcontain, protect, preserve, promote, facilitate ease of transport and storage, and provide convenience – it is the last one that is most often neglected.

Brand managers and packaging designers usually do the others very well, but they forget that convenience can have profound implications for how consumers view their products, their brand and their company as a whole.

Take for example an incident I had quite recently. As a music fan I like to listen to my favourite bands regularly and I like the freedom that wireless connectivity can bring, so I decided to buy a pair of Bluetooth headphones from a well-known manufacturer.

My initial experiences were good – the person behind the shop counter was knowledgeable, carefully going through the pros and cons of each different model until I settled on a pair which I perceived best suited to my needs and represented the best value.

So far so good. Until I got them home that is.

Eager to try out my new purchase, I tried to prise the plastic clamshell that they were contained in apart, but it was like trying to rip up old car tyres with your bare hands. There was no chance I was opening it that way. Next – and don’t try this at home people – I graduated on to my teeth, trying to bite through ridiculously tough packaging to get to my purchase, but that too was futile and only served to up my level of frustration.

I decided I needed tools to help me so I headed for the kitchen drawer, grabbed a knife and tried to pierce the ultra-smooth plastic. But this was no good either, the point of the blade just slipped off the casing, making no impression whatsoever, so finally, in a desperate bid to get to my new headphones, I rummaged through several other drawers until I found the clamshell’s nemesis … a sturdy pair of scissors.

Holding the package in one hand and the scissors in the other, I started to cut through the ridiculously tough plastic until, horror of horrors, the scissors broke in my hand. Yes, the packaging was so tough, even my sturdy scissors weren’t up to the job.

By this point I had developed a serious case of Wrap Rage, and it is a wonder I hadn’t injured myself. Injuries caused by trying to get into packaging are at an all-time high, with one survey in the Express reporting that nearly two thirds of people have injured themselves in this pursuit. It is a serious problem that brand managers and packaging designers need to address.

According to the study, clamshells, like the one my headphones were packaged in, are the worst offenders followed by tins with keys, child-proof safety bottles, yoghurt pots with foil lids that are so hard to remove they explode in your face and plastic wrapped CDs. Others that make the list are resealable food bags that are so hard to open you end up cutting them with a knife and jam jars with tight lids.

I was determined to get at my headphones so motivated by rage, I hacked away at the packaging with a combination of the knife and the broken scissor until finally, with no little sense of triumph, I removed them from the case. Although it was a fight I eventually won, getting access to the products you spend your hard-earned cash on shouldn’t be a fight at all.

The headphones are great, I use them all the time, but the packaging was ludicrously tough, dangerously so actually, and has put me off buying anything in a clamshell again. It has also made me think twice about buying from the same brand again. Had I have injured myself, cut myself for example, that brand would have gone straight on my blacklist.

Packaging needs to fulfil certain roles to be effective – it needs to look good to attract the consumer and it needs to protect a product and allow for efficient use of space. But don’t neglect functionality. Convenience might be the last link in the chain but it can also be the difference between building an army of loyal customers and never selling to the same customer twice.

To find out more about our Brand Management and packaging services please visit the Brand Management page here or feel free to give me a call on 01482 484700.

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