Counselor Commentary: Packaging Does Matter

Will Unique Packaging Increase The Value Of An Item?

In the spirit of last-minute holiday shopping, let’s say you’re out comparing a few items on the store shelf this weekend. What will your eyes be drawn to? For most people, the best looking products are the ones that get the first and longest stare down. Of course, part of “the look” of a product is the packaging – whether it’s a $5 toy or an $800 laptop.

While a few studies have shown attractive packaging does positively influence buying decisions, data is actual pretty scarce. That’s why today we’re introducing a new tool called the Counselor Common-Sense-O-Meter (CCSM). It’s about as scientific as when a golfer tosses a little grass up in the air to judge the wind – meaning Einstein wouldn’t approve. But whatever.

According to the CCSM, unique and creative packaging will increase the value of an item. People will also pay a little more for items that have higher perceived value. The real trick is to make the packaging not only interesting, but effective. Here’s an example. A couple of years back when she was in college, Lacy Kuhn set out to turn a boring cereal box into a fun and practical package. She designed a reusable canister-type box with an illustration of a bear gobbling honey squares into his belly. You can see the squares through a window in the canister, making the package a lot more appealing than a regular box with a picture of a bowl and a spoon.

“I noticed a fault in cereal packaging – the bag within the box seemed silly,” Kuhn told Counselor recently. “People take their cereal out to put into a better, re-sealable container anyways, so why not just start with the box? The box is multipurpose and can be used as storage for toys, bulk foods and more.” By the way, the honey squares design got Kuhn about a gazillion online views and certainly helped her job hunt. She landed a designer position at Seattle’s Hum Creative.

Can you be similarly engaging with your packaging of pens, drinkware and USB drives? That’s one of the challenges the industry faces as it looks to break the “cheap giveaway” label. Often, so-called premium items aren’t as much better quality as they are better packaged and marketed. Suppliers need to offer packaging options that distributors can sell. Distributors, meanwhile, have to be willing to avoid selling at the cheapest price point. You want customers that buy with their eyes first and their wallets second. That’s the strategy of the best brands – the ones you’ll be buying this weekend.