The role of packaging has actually changed due to the increasing changes in the preferences and wants of the consumers. It has also changed due to the increasing self-service and changing consumers’ lifestyle in a very global and intensely competitive environment (Deliya & Parmar, p. 2). Historically, the main purpose of packaging is to defend the product. At present, it is also being utilized as an instrument for increasing sales, attracting customers and communicating the brand to its consumers. More and more businesses are turning to packaging as a means of increasing sales. It has, indeed, become a tool of promotions. Packaging has become an ultimate selling proposition that stimulates impulsive buying behavior, increasing market share and decreasing the costs of promotions (p. 2).
A good packaging aids in determining the brand to the consumers (Interpack Website, p. 1). Packaging is used for easily delivery and safety purpose. Business owners use packaging for the fulfillment of the consumers that the product is original and brand new (p. 1). They also use it to differentiate their products from other brands. A good packaging catches the attention of the consumers about specific products. It also serves marketing communication purposes and it is a vital element which influences the buyers’ buying behavior. In a more utilitarian orientation, packaging is the significant element and container of the product which protects, prevent and help in handling the product from the producer to consumers (p. 1). The main packaging materials are: paper/fiberboard; plastic; glass; steel; and aluminum. The impact of aesthetics on product packaging and consumer purchase decisions
In a study conducted by Shah, Ahmad & Ahmad (p. 38 – 41), it shows that packaging has a vital role and influence on consumer buying behavior. It evidenced that packaging has the important elements which strongly influence the consumer buying behavior. Packaging describe information about product (i.e. where it was made, when it was made, what it contains, and how it to use etc.) The study also shows that elements of the package are the most significant factor which influences the consumer’s purchase decision. Manufacturers utilize printed information in packaging as a promotion of the product since this is cost effective compared to very expensive advertisement.
Aesthetics is an important factor in product packaging. Aside from being a “beautiful face” of a product, packaging serves as the aesthetic beauty of the product (Shah, Ahmad, & Ahmad, p. 3). To illustrate, the sales of a perfume is enhanced by the style and the uniqueness of the bottles which contain them. These factors really attract customers to buy the perfume. This is why some consumers even actually buy some perfumes based on their beautiful bottles. They collect all the different designs and just highlight the perfume bottles as a decoration in their dressers after they have used the perfume. In some instances, the aesthetics of the bottle also serve to identify the masculinity and femininity of the consumers. They entice more buyers because of this distinct identity (p. 2).
Aside from aesthetics, there are many different elements of packaging which certainly enhance consumers’ buying decisions and behaviors. For instance, in a study conducted by Kuvykaite, Dovaliene & Navickiene (Deliya & Parmar, p. 2), the elements of the packaging affect consumer purchase decision economics and management. According to the study, the packaging materials are the most important visual elements for purchasing products such as milk and laundry powder. In the case of color, form and graphic, these elements are not so important (p. 3). In their analysis of verbal elements, it was found out that product information and country-of-origin are the most important elements (p. 3). It is also noteworthy that producer and brand are important as well since these elements are highly treated by the customers. In comparing the effect of visual and verbal elements of packaging on consumer’s purchase decision, it was found out that verbal elements are more important than visual elements. Packaging design aspects such as those for storing foods, the functionality of the packaging is also very important (p. 3). Hence, resealable packages or air tight containers which preserve food longer are vital.
How does packaging influence purchasing behavior?
According to Interpack, a leading processes and packaging trade fair organizer, even when the consumer is okay with the packaging available in the market, he/she would still be enticed by the attractiveness and functionality of the package through its multisensory appeal and creative design (Interpack Website, p. 1). This is often displayed by packages made from board. A consumer actually acknowledges the appeal of the package and would even pay an extra value for it (p. 1). The following list of the top ten requests of consumers about product packaging summed up the elements of packaging which determine buying decisions and generate new market potential:
1. Eye-catching appearance – a distinct, extra ordinary and very attractive appearance is a signal at the point of sale to which all consumers, particularly the younger ones, react positively. Whatever which stands out in the monotonous competitive environment and whatever is surprising catch the interests of the consumers (p. 2). While special attractions are significant for a stronger impact, it also adds costs.
2. Design, shape and color – a well designed package, creative printing and finishes entice customers to devote attention to the package and its content at the point of sale (p. 2). Aesthetics and attractiveness are major distinct features. They are essential in some product segments (p. 2). To illustrate, a beautiful packaging design is vital in the cosmetics and chocolate businesses since their consumers are strongly attracted to nice and decorative products of these types.
3. Functionality – this is the basis for all successful packaging and for greater product success. Some important functions which should be featured in a product package include the following: product and aroma protection, tightness and hygiene, eco friendliness, closure mechanisms, portioning, see-through windows, among others.
4. Innovation – being different or novel has a strong appeal in marketing and sales (p. 2). An innovative pack can even make “new products” out of the common ones. Extra ordinary solutions, functional new developments and originality set design trends and increase sales. This is because it mainly affects the instincts of the buyers.
5. Material – the main features such as easy disposal, sustainability or eco friendliness, great design variety are special features of package materials. They are appealing and popular with customers.
6. Efficient communication – the packaging is the credible medium at the point of sale and is intensively consulted. It makes an efficient means of communication and bridges the product more instantly with the customers. If this links well with the instincts of the consumers, it serves a highly effective marketing communication purpose for the customer to make purchasing decisions.
7. Multisensory appeal – if the package attracts the customer through one of his senses (visual, audio-visual, sensory, etc.), it will get more attention and stimulate the customer’s buying interests. Packaging which can be touched, heard, smelled and pleasantly looked at wins the customer’s favor (p. 2). It also makes him pay for a higher price because of the stimulus to his senses.
8. Product appropriateness – packaging is also taken in as a vital indicator of quality. The quality of the product has to be communicated by good packaging and not by mere promises of quality as communicated in the packaging texts (p. 3). A credible “work of art” is made as an outcome, in which the contents and the packaging are coherently integrated and the customer is convinced by their consistency (p. 3).
9. Value – packaging is a magnificent tool to communicate the value, class and sophistication of the product or brand (p. 3). This makes it as an ideal strategic option for expressing premium positioning. It is also the instrument of choice when a product needs to be further developed or if a brand requires revitalization or repackaging (p. 3). Products cased in a sophisticated package are especially popular as gift items, too (p. 3).
10. Extra benefits – a very good packaging not only integrates what is pleasant with what is functionally useful. It also has extra benefits. For instance, it is considered as a gift. Hence, aside from the protection and functionality, packaging is also an enhanced value.
In summary, the consumer identifies needs and desires and then makes a purchase. The process of identification includes the process of consumption where customer sets the product within three stages: pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase activity. Hence, the perception and the evaluation of the product package, help the customer to make a purchasing decision. Product packaging: The psychological influences behind our purchasing decisions.
According to experts, the color of a package is vital and it differentiates one company product from another. Packaging color draws attention of the consumers. The more attractive the color, the more consumer will like it (Shah, Ahmad & Ahmad, p. 2). Various competitors use different colors such as white, black (for power), blue (for trust), red (for energy), green (for balance), orange, yellow, and purple. They have different meanings and influences on the consumer’s perceptions. The following packaging elements have distinct influences on the consumer behavior:
Packaging material – this is an important element which prevents the product from loss. High quality material attracts customer as low quality materials turn off the customers.
Font style – is also an important element of packaging which invite customer attention. Companies who use best font styles have shown to be successful in the market.
Design of wrapper - packaging is used for identification of the product. It plays an important role in attracting the consumer. Children tend to be more receptive to design wrappers. This is why children’s products are wrapped more attractively.
Printed information – carries all the information related to the product quality, price, description which support in brand identification (p. 2).
Background image - the image on the product is vital so that they increase the attention and familiarity with the certain product. Background image is the image in the mind of the customers which helps enhance branding.
Innovation – by adding highly special featured into the design of the package, the value of the product is increased such that it is easier to open or to store, can be recycled, made more secured for children’s use, protect the product from breaking, etc. These features are ingrained in the consumer’s mind. In a study conducted by Silayoi and Speece on focus groups with adults, they found out that both visual and informational elements influenced purchase decisions (Ogba & Johnson, p. 3). While the study was not specifically on children, there are other studies which defend that because of the children’s lower abilities to process information, they are likely to evaluate products and their packaging is mainly focused on a visual level, aside from its informational features. Marketers, hence, constantly use interesting visual imagery, distinct characters, color and design to ensure their products stand out to their targeted customers - children.
This concept of young consumers’ ability to process mainly on a visual level is evidenced by a study conducted by Dammler and Middelmann-Motz. They asked readers to visualize themselves in a foreign country where they could not read the language (p. 3). In these instances, they were deduced to make product judgments on a purely visual level in the same manner that children judge all products and look for information that they can make sense of, i.e. a recognizable character. Likewise, the study made by Gelperowic and Beharrell (1994) also explained how parents and children make purchasing decisions. Through focus groups with mothers, these researchers were able to show that children were specifically attracted by ‘‘nice -looking” packaging (p. 4). It was concluded that in order for a food item to be bought by the mother, it should be attractive to the child. This assures the mother that the child will eat the food product and hence, avoid spoilage or waste. This study shows how packaging can have an effect on their children’s requests. It also shows that mother’s usually succumb to the child’s request so as to avoid problems.
Function as a New Vital Aspect of Packaging
As stated above, function is one of the top ten reasons why customers are attracted to the products. Fundamentally, packaging and package labeling provides the following basic functions:
- Physical protection – packages protect the objects enclosed in the package from shock, vibration, compression, temperature, etc. (p. 9).
- Barrier Protection – it bars oxygen, water vapor, dust, etc. from the product.
- Containment or agglomeration - small objects are usually grouped together in one package for transport and handling efficiency. Conversely, bulk commodities (i.e. salt) can be segregated into packages that are a more suitable size for individual households (p. 9).
- Information transmission - information on how to use, transport, recycle, or dispose of the package or product is often contained in the package or label.
- Reducing theft – it serves purpose for packaging that cannot be re-closed or gets physically damaged. Packages also provide opportunities to include anti-theft devices.
- Convenience – features which enhance convenience in distribution, handling, and display, sale, opening, re closing, use and re use.
- Marketing – the packaging and labels are often utilized by marketers to attract potential buyers to buy the product (p. 9).
Some products have packages which can still be used after consuming the original product for which it is designed for. The extra usage can attract consumers to purchase the product against its competitors. This is exemplified by instant noodles which are in bowls that are not disposable. (These bowls can be used at home after even the noodles are consumed.) Some boxes are also used as gift boxes after unwrapping the original product.
Studies showed that the more functionality and aesthetics the package has, the more the customer is enticed to it. Most consumers basically like the quality of the products after they have purchased their desired packages (Deliya & Parmar, p. 8). This means to say that prior to the product motivation itself, the customers have been allured to the aesthetics and functions of the package. While there is an equal relationship between the qualities of the product itself and the quality of the package, there is a priori positive thinking and trends about the relationship of a good quality package to a good quality product. As people become more demanding in their preferences and consumption, packaging has served more than just the common functions of delivering information and physical product protection. Hence, the more vitality there is to the functionality of the package, the more it enhances the consumer decision to buy the product. Aside from the perception of quality, packaging functions such as using eco-friendly materials and the ability to be re used are standards nowadays in buying products. It proves that consumers not only take into account the quality of the product. They also consider the environmental impact or (dysfunctionality) of the package in their purchase of a product.
How can packaging designed to be functional be used as a marketing tool and desire to purchase?
The idea of functional packaging or packaging being re-used is at the very core of functional packaging. It would continue to serve a purpose past its original role. Hence, it extends its lifecycle and prevents it from participating in environmental deterioration. By providing such functionality, the consumer is encouraged more than ever to reuse the product packaging for its intended second purpose, rather than discarding it or having to dream up ways to reuse it.
This is also very timely as global products are now demanded to be more eco friendly, thus, making it more necessary for packaging to stand out with functional features. Packaging design help to position the product to a certain target market segment/s and communicate this to the target audience (p. 9).
Some of these market changes include the increasing number of single consumers who have strong consumer power but have less time to spend in the supermarket or in the kitchen; the growing population of elderly population; the greater health consciousness; and widening gap between the rich and the poor.
This gave a wider range of products and packages, from luxury brands to no-name brands. There is an opportunity to support marketing strategy and a deeper understanding of the present market and consumer attitudes in the product category. The amount of time and care devoted to developing packaging concepts, whether structural or surface graphics should be applied to the entire development process. In the final analysis, when all the brands in the category have comparable product performance or when the prospective customer is unfamiliar with the category, it is only the final packaging appearance which counts (p. 9).
Deliya, M. & Parmar, B. Role of Packaging on Consumer Buying Behavior – Patan District. Global Journal Management and Business Research. Accessed on February 9, 2014 <http://www.journalofbusiness.org/index.php/GJMBR/article/viewFile/732/662>.
Interpack Website. “Product Packaging Plays an Important Role in the Marketing Mix.” 2014. Accessed on February 9, 2014 < http://www.interpack.com/cipp/md_interpack/custom/pub/content,lang,2/oid,7773/ticket,g_u_e_s_t/~/Product_packaging_plays_an_important_role_in_the_marketing_mix.html>.
Ogba, I. & Johnson, R. How packaging affects the product preferences of children and the buyer behavior of their parents in the food industry. Accessed on February 9, 2014 <nrl.northumbria.ac.uk//Ogba,%20Johnson%20-%20How%20packagin..>
Shah, S., Ahmad, A., & Ahmad, N. Role of Packaging in Consumer Buying Behavior: A study of University Students of Peshawar Region KPK Pakistan. International Review of Basic and Applied Sciences. July 2013, 1 (2). Accessed on February 9, 2014 < http://irbas.academyirmbr.com/papers/1372183064.pdf >.