There’s no denying that packaging is one of the most essential considerations any product-based business needs to make. Not only is it used to protect your products against damage or contamination, but, with the right design, it can even help differentiate your brand from competitors.


In this article, we’ll take a look at how investing in quality packaging can help your business sell more products while also looking ahead at some of the most popular packaging trends in 2021.


Let’s get started!

What Is The Purpose of Packaging?


Packaging has been used by all kinds of different societies for hundreds of years. At first, it served one simple purpose – to protect an item while it was being transported or stored.


For example, a baker might sell a loaf of bread and package it in a plain brown paper bag to send home with the customer.


However, after the industrial revolution, society gradually became more product-centric. Today, not only is packaging used to protect products, but it’s also a valuable branding tool. Here’s a quick overview of the three main purposes of packaging:


Protect your products – the primary role of packaging is to protect the product. Not only does this ensure your product is unaltered throughout its journey to the consumer but investing in high-quality packaging can significantly reduce the number of products your customers return each quarter due to damage.


Entice customers to buy – imagine two identical products sitting side-by-side on a shelf in a store. They have the same features and are listed at the exact same price… except one of them has vibrant, colourful packaging while the other looks bland and boring. Which one are customers going to choose?


Obviously the one with the colourful packaging. In fact, in many cases putting a little bit of effort into packaging allows a business to charge even more for a product that is virtually identical to their competitors.’

Build brand recognition – packaging also helps to familiarize customers with your brand. If they see your logo and colours time and time again, eventually they’ll be able to identify who made the product with just a split-second glance.

The 3 Different Types of Packaging


Not all packaging is created equal. There are different types of packaging that serve different purposes. However, most packaging will belong to one of three categories:


Primary Packaging – this is the type of packaging that comes into direct contact with the product. The main goal of primary packaging is to prevent contamination or damage to the product. Sealed primary packaging also helps customers feel confident that the product hasn’t been altered or tampered with before purchase. The plastic pouch containing the cereal in a cereal box is an example of primary packaging.


Exterior Packaging – is the packaging that is displayed to customers. Sticking with our cereal example, the exterior packaging for a box of cheerios will have a logo, image, and an advertising message used to help sell the product. Space on exterior packaging is limited so it’s best to advertise the product’s most appealing features (Ex. Fat-Free! or Low Sodium! Or Made With Whole Grains!).


Secondary Packaging – groups several units of the same product together for transport or storage. A cardboard box containing two or more boxes of cereal would be classified as a type of secondary packaging.

Tertiary Packaging – Groups several units of secondary packaging packed together. A pallet with several cardboard boxes containing individual cereal boxes would be considered a type of tertiary packaging.

Why Quality Packaging Matters


Affects Consumer Purchasing Decisions


“Never forget that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression – with investors, with customers, with PR, and with marketing.” – Natalie Massanet


Did you know that 72% of Americans (and a comparable percentage of Canadians) say that their purchasing decision is influenced by packaging?


And guess what? Your product’s packaging is often the very first interaction your customers will have with your business.


It’s no longer simply the company with the best products that sells the most units. To be competitive in today’s business environment, you need a combination of quality products and noteworthy packaging.


Encourages Repeat Purchases


Running a business can be expensive. You have employees to pay, supplies to purchase, rent, and a number of other expenses.


That’s why it’s extremely important to build recurring streams of revenue. Encouraging first-time buyers to become loyal repeat customers is one of the best ways to accomplish this.


The beauty of this strategy is that you don’t need to convince repeat customers to buy your products. Sure, you can still upsell to them, but if they have already purchased from you and they were satisfied with your product, they’ll have no problem buying from you again.


Onboarding new customers, on the other hand, is a lot more work. First, you need to create awareness for your brand, then you need to explain why your product is better than competitors’ products, and finally, you need to convince them that you’re offering a fair price.


Perhaps this is why Harvard Business Review claims that acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.


So, that brings us to the question of how do I encourage repeat customers?


Well, one of the best ways is to spend some time improving your product packaging. In fact, 61% of customers say they are much more likely to repeat a purchase of a product if it came in premium packaging.


Encourages Social Sharing


In today’s digitally-focused world, most people have a smartphone at arms reach at all times. This makes it easy for anyone to broadcast what’s going on in their life to thousands of people across several of the top social media platforms.


Companies have found that after making an effort to improve their packaging, more people start to engage with their brand on social media.


For example, many of the top social media influencers on Youtube and Instagram share product unboxing videos with massive audiences comprised of millions of followers.


Even the average person with 500 friends on Facebook will sometimes share videos of themselves unboxing new products. This might not seem like that much exposure but consider the fact that some of these 500 people will watch the unboxing video and purchase the product for themselves. Then, they might share their own unboxing video that gets seen by even more people!


As many as 35% of consumers report that they watch unboxing videos and 55% of these people claim that watching the video convinced them to purchase the product.


Of course, in order to encourage customers to share their unboxing video, there must be something unique or desirable about your packaging and products. Data suggests that as much as 40% of customers will share an image of your packaging on social media if it is unique or branded.


Premium Packaging Increases Sale Value


Even though packaging has nothing to do with the product itself, believe it or not, it can actually influence the amount of money you can charge for a product.


For example, let’s say there are two products sitting side by side on a shelf.


Product A – costs $5, packaged in bland, generic packing material.


Product B – costs $7, packaged in aesthetic, premium packing material.


Product “B” might only be slightly better than product “A” but its premium packaging provides a sense of superiority and quality. When this is the case, customers will actually perceive the product with premium packaging to be several times better than the generically packaged product, and they’ll be more than happy to pay extra for it.


Of course, you don’t want to mislead customers – your product should always deliver on its promises. Never slap an inferior product in premium packaging and jack up the price.


A combination of a quality product and attractive packaging is needed to make this strategy successful.

The Future of Packaging – Top Trends 


Similar to music, television, sports, and nearly anything else, packaging has undergone some significant changes over the years, and it will continue to change into the future. Here’s a look at some of the top trends in packaging as we progress further in 2021.

Personalized Packaging


Over the past decade, digital print technology has exploded onto the scene, allowing companies to create unique, personalized packaging designs for their products.


For a prime example of personalized packaging in action, just look at Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign.


In 2014, Coca-Cola marketing executives were looking for a way to create more engagement with their products. So, they decided to print 250 of the most popular American names on their 20-ounce bottles.


Now, instead of idly passing by the drinks cooler in a store, people were actively searching for a bottle with their name on it. Not only that but when they found their name, they took a picture of the bottle and shared it on social media, creating a tidal wave of awareness for the Coca-Cola brand.


If you can find a way to get creative with your packaging and personalize it towards your audience, you can achieve tremendous results!

Sustainable Packaging


Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of how their purchase decisions affect the environment. For this reason, many businesses have invested heavily in eco-friendly packaging options.


Instead of traditional plastic packaging, companies are opting to use packaging made from 100% recycled materials. This is true of businesses of all shapes and sizes. For example, retail giant Amazon requires its vendors to abide by waste-efficient packaging standards, or else they will be charged a fee of $1.99 for every package.

Minimalist Packaging


When people think of minimalism, they usually think about the popular trend of minimalist living that has swept over North America during the last decade. Basically, this way of life is all about making do with less – or more specifically – making do with only what you need. A smaller home, less furniture, fewer clothes, a simple diet, etc…


Interestingly, this trend has seeped into the marketing world. People are beginning to prefer sleek, lightweight packaging.


A great example of minimalist packaging is Apple’s box for the iPhone. It’s simple, it’s lightweight, and it’s barely larger than the iPhone itself. Why use more when you don’t need to?


Not only does minimalist packaging look good, but it also ensures your product creates less overall waste.

Need Help Customizing Your Packaging?

From design and print to kitting, warehousing and fulfillment, the team at ION can help with all of your packaging needs. Our cutting edge print technology allows us to create unique designs for any product! Please contact us today to learn more.


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