Retail 101

6 Questions Your Packaging Needs To Answer

All entrepreneurs have a special connection with their products. Whatever they’re selling, they were so compelled by this product that they turned their life upside down just for a chance to bring it to others. However, it’s not enough to love your product; entrepreneurs need to convince others they need it too. And since it’s not possible to talk to every potential customer, the packaging has to speak for itself.

Good packaging does one thing really well: it communicates to the customer on behalf of you. Think of your packaging like an inanimate sales rep, when people are walking by your items they’re going to either consciously or subconsciously ask themselves questions about your product. This may happen during a glance going down an aisle, or as they’re holding up you and your competitor’s products, deciding which one to buy. No matter what contact a potential customer has with your packaging, it has to tell them why they should pick up your product and go home with it. This can be a tough order, and if you aren’t sure if your packaging is working, it may be worth finding a sales rep that can help you out.

1) What’s The Product?

mystery box

Yes, it’s an obvious one, but it’s also far and away the most important. If your packaging doesn’t make it completely obvious what’s inside, people are not going to stick around to find out. Also remember that customers are often distracted, tired, annoyed, and experiencing a host of other things that make them less alert. You want your packaging to be so clear, that no matter who you are or what you’re going through, it’s still obvious at a moment’s glance precisely what your product is.

Is your packaging so clear that the following people would immediately know what your product is?

  • A child
  • A stressed-out parent dealing with a child
  • Someone with blurry or impaired vision
  • Someone who doesn’t speak the language
  • Someone who rarely or never thinks about your product
  • Someone very distracted who’s barely thinking about shopping

If these people would be confused, consider changing up your packaging. Clarity is key; no one wants to spend money on something that makes them feel puzzled.

2) Who’s The Customer?

group of people

After shoppers figure out what your product is (hopefully in a few seconds max), they’re going to ask themselves this question: is this product for me? Even a product that everyone uses, like water or toilet paper, still needs to answer this question. Within every category, there are multiple differentiators.

Does your packaging answer the following questions?

  • Is it high-end, mid-range, or affordable?
  • Is it eco-friendly?
  • Does it have a target customer age or a target stage of life?
  • Is it gender specific?
  • Is it location specific?
  • Do you have to own something else to use it? (i.e., snow tires require that you own a car)

3) Why Should Customers Pick This Product And Not A Competitor?

chess pieces raised

If your packaging communicates what the product is and who it’s for, great. Now comes the hard part, because all of your competitors have done that too. So in a sea of similar products, how do you get yours to stand out on the shelves? These questions are an excellent beginning to see if your packaging will have the edge over the competition.

  • Is it clear and simple?
  • Is it memorable?
  • Is it unique?
  • Does it evoke positive emotions? Is it fun? Cute? Tough?
  • Is it offering something extra? I.e., 30% more now included!

4) Does It Look Professional?

classy packaging

This might seem obvious, but it’s worth stating over and over again: professionalism counts. Don’t fall into the entrepreneur hole of thinking that your product will speak for itself so that you can cut corners on packaging. There are many ways to have professional looking packaging on a budget, but don’t underestimate how bad it will be if you skimp and it’s obvious. If the packaging is poor quality, customers will assume the product is too. They won’t have faith that your business will be around for very long, and won’t waste energy by taking a chance on your product.

5) Does It Match Your Brand?

brand

Ideally, customers shouldn’t view you as a single product, even if that’s all you have right now. They should see you as a new brand they’re experiencing, and they’ll start to form an opinion about what your brand means. Make sure that your packaging sends a clear message and brands your product correctly.

  • Does it match your brand colors?
  • Do your brand colors evoke the right emotions?
  • Does the packaging’s fonts match your brand’s tone?
  • Is your logo prominently featured?

6) Does It Give All The Correct Information?

box information

Once you’ve thought of all the design elements, it’s time to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

  • Is the written copy correct? Directions on use, personal stories, and even witty jokes or remarks need to be spelled and positioned correctly.
  • Does it have all legally required copy? Does your packaging need a barcode? Nutritional information? Warning labels?

Designing and proofing packaging can be an arduous task, but remember that you can have fun with it too. Use your creativity to convince people it’s worth checking out what’s inside. Have a clear overall message you’re trying to send, take care of the details, and don’t stop until you have something you’re truly proud of.

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