July 23, 2014 11:16 am

The quality and integrity of a product should be able to stand on its own, but in the business of retail merchandising, the harsh reality is that unless your product packaging fits into certain parameters, it may be doomed to fail before consumers have a chance to purchase and use it. What is the role of product packaging and how does its proper use assist in marketing new products?

Product Protection

The majority of products have some form of packaging. The most important role of product packaging is to protect a product from damage during shipment from the manufacturer to the retailer as well as when it is on the retailer’s shelves. Packaging concepts have shifted to be more planet-friendly in recent years, emphasizing materials that are easily recyclable or less cumbersome to dispose of.

Catch the Eye

Besides being durable, product packaging should be able to attract a consumer’s eye. Think of grocery store shelves, or those of a toy store or chain retailer. There are dozens—if not hundreds—of products all vying for your attention as you walk down an aisle. Perfect packaging will be able to grab a consumer’s attention and direct him or her to the product. Companies may conduct extensive research on colors, designs, and types of product packaging that is most appealing to its intended purchaser.

Important Information

Packaging needs to share with consumers information about the product—what it is, what is does, who it is intended for, how it is used, and any safety warnings. It may also contain an ingredient list, if applicable. This information provides consumers with the information they need to make a smart purchasing decision.

A Rose by Any Other Name

A vital role of product packaging is to differentiate one brand of product from another. Think of Apple, Coca-Cola, or the Nike Swish. Chances are you may recognize these brand logos and even be able to picture them in your head. If you know the logo, chances are you will purchase the product. Even if the product packaging gets a makeover, chances are the consumer will go back to the product once he or she forms a new bond with the new packaging.

Shelf Space

Moving from the consumer’s eye to the retailer shelves, there is also the matter of packaging space to consider. The more products a retailer has on the shelves, the more likely he is to make a sale. Also, the easier it is to carry a product, the more chances the retailer has of a consumer carrying it around the store to the check-out line. And the smaller the package footprint, the more items that can fit on a retailer shelf.  And tiny products with built in hangers may be able to fit on end caps or next to the check-out line. (Had you wondered why snack makers started to create smaller-sized packages of potato chips and pretzels to be placed near the sodas and juices near the front of grocery and some chain retailer stores?)

Last and Best Chance to Make a Sale

With a product’s retail package being the last and best chance to make a sale, an item’s presentation is more important than ever.  Whether sharing ideas with a company licensing your product or creating your own self-manufactured product packaging, keep in mind the importance of what the consumer sees, because a book really can be judged by its cover.

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