Modern Packaging: Meeting New Demands And Expectations
The only real concern for packaging over the centuries was the protection of products as they were shipped from the producer to consumer. However, the form and function of packaging today plays a major role in the marketing of many products. Companies now spend large amounts of money in designing and selecting the right type of packaging for their merchandise, whether going to retail shelves to factory floors,.
More than Packing Boxes
The process of moving product from its place of manufacture to the ultimate consumer traditionally involved the use of the cheapest possible materials that would get the job done, such as wooden or paper packing boxes. That simple approach began to change after WWII with the birth of the consumer marketplace, and packaging became a major element of marketing in the 70s and 80s.
Manufacturers in today's hyper-competitive market incorporate many considerations into their packaging, balancing costs with functional and design factors that:
- Protect the product
- Provide effective display
- Meet safety and labeling requirements
- Stand out from the competition
From a marketing perspective, companies understand that packaging is often a make-or-break issue for the consumer. Studies show 73% to 85% of all decisions concerning individual purchases are made at the point of sale. This makes it crucial that the selected packaging provide a clear and convincing marketing message on the retail shelves.
Increasing Demands for Creative Packaging
As a part of meeting consumer expectations, manufacturers and marketers are now dealing with a host of new issues related to end-user packaging. Trends in the industry are closely followed as creative approaches to the packaging solution are increasingly used to gain a competitive edge. A few of those current trends, as identified in a study discussed in Packaging Digest, include addressing shifting demographics, showing environmental sensitivity and responsibility, fighting theft and shrinkage, and providing full compliance with labelling requirements.
This study also points out where packaging can go too far in trying to address one problem while creating new ones. For example, the concerns over theft and product protection produced a decade of what are now seen as over-engineered packaging. These made many products inaccessible without major efforts by the consumer and created significant backlash.
Packaging is also becoming increasingly intelligent. Manufacturers can now incorporate a variety of electronic and digital tools, from QR codes to RFID chips that provide information to players in the supply chain and consumers. This data helps in every aspect of the logistics of moving products to consumers, from ordering to theft protection. Smartphones now have a large number of apps that consumers can use to evaluate their purchase decisions.
While today's packaging still must meet the basic task of protecting a product, it now also fulfills many other tasks and expectations.