18 August 2022
Where would we be without packaging? Imagine food going off before it’s made it to the shelf, beauty products spilling over the tester racks, technology smashing en-route to the buyer, jewelry lost in the bottom of the mailbag…utter carnage. But we do take product packaging for granted a lot of the time. In this article we’ll be tackling just how important packaging is, why it’s become your main sales conversion and the impact it has on your brand.
A Brief History
The agricultural revolution began what we know today as trade. It was necessary if communities were to survive, since the agricultural revolution introduced farming and land ownership, with families focusing on growing one type of crop in the hope that they could trade this for other necessities. This is also where self-preservation and money became more important. As humans evolved so have their packaging techniques and knowledge of materials. Produce was first packaged in leaves and transported in gourds or animal skins that had been tanned, as trade was expanded to routes outside of immediate communities and then further to different continents; material knowledge was passed around as well as different versions of payment, skills and ingredients. This translated into new ways of packaging, resulting in woven bags made from different fibers (depending what was available in the area) and with the implementation of cities there was also the creation of packaging made from blown glass, precious metals and wood molded into barrels. Cotton was first used to store food but with the American Civil War having a huge impact on imports, exports and general international trade; cotton was changed for paper. From the 1870’s corrugated paper was used instead of wooden boxes in shipping, introducing the beginning of modern flexible packaging.
The advent of the industrial revolution brought with it a whole new type of packaging that was an advertising board as well as a shipping device – humans began believing in brands rather than products. Product packaging became more than a way to ship products safely across international trade routes and instead became a way to encourage regular consumers to buy certain brands over others simply from the words the companies used and the way they presented themselves. Products were packaged in paper and cloth before tin became popular with its molding properties – this was the first ‘flexible packaging’. Yet through the industrial revolution three things made mass packaging production possible:
In terms of plastic packaging it went like this: Parkesine was invented in 1862 as the first man-made plastic and paved the way for Celluloid which was made from organic matter but on the basis of Parkesine, this led to Bakelite which was entirely synthetic, this was followed by Polymers which were discovered in 1920 and the rest is history. Thanks to wars and industry booms, a lot of money and time was put into perfecting plastic, making it as cheap and as easy as possible to produce, leading to the range of plastic product packaging we are familiar with today.
Back To The Future
Today we’re all familiar with product packaging as well as the environmental impacts certain materials have if not properly recycled and then reintroduced into the production chain. Instead of continuing to produce materials that are man-made and unable to be reintroduced into the environment safely, production has – in recent years – become more and more focused on how to mitigate the impact of product packaging. To combine materials, to utilize ethical sourcing and production methods as well as the properties that plastic has given the industry.
The importance of packaging is undeniable. It has become as much an advertising method as a shipping necessity. Branded packaging has become so ingrained in our consumer culture that it would be virtually impossible to regress. Packaging helps consumers to understand not just the products they buy but the life they want to live, every single product is aligned with a lifestyle which is linked intrinsically to the entire economy. Without brands, without product packaging there is no way that consumerism could continue – there is no way the economy could continue to run. Introducing psychological elements into the design of your packaging can improve customer satisfaction and conversions.
For example, premium materials and handwritten labels can evoke a stronger connection to products for consumers than cheap materials coupled with a standard typeface. Quantitative and qualitative studies show that consumers react better to brands that they recognise and can align their ethics with – brands that show they care about more than their bottom line are more likely to be successful in general. Your brand’s packaging isn’t just the box your product is put in, it’s everything.
Packaging is only going to get more important as brands realize it’s value and it becomes a bigger sector of the international economy. Already areas such as flexible packaging (accounting for 19% of the entire packaging industry in the US alone) are expected to grow by billions of dollars in the upcoming decade. The influence of technology on packaging will also be a major drive in the sector – creating interactive product packaging as well as personalization, all focusing on sustainable solutions that can benefit the consumer without harming the planet.
What does this mean for your brand?
The amount of sustainable materials already available on the market is growing each day with the breakthroughs in science and technology. Depending what your brand is and who your target audience are you can really design everything to fit in. Going sustainable, using recycled materials and implementing a closed loop system no longer means scrimping on quality. Whether you choose vegan packaging or just a more biodegradable mix – there’s only one way this industry’s going and it’s green.
Brands usually make the product without thinking of what happens once the consumer is finished using it. Apart from return sales that’s not really a thought a business has had to give until this point. Now with watchdogs and increasing consumer awareness, brands are having to take a step up in making solutions that are ethical after use, not just during production and sourcing. Lots of brands are starting to implement take-back schemes which mean they can then properly recycle their packaging saving on materials as well as public image.
Technology is fast-moving, with intense breakthroughs happening all the time all over the world. With AR, VR, QR codes and AI there is no limit to what your packaging can do. Many companies are already experimenting with interactive packaging that allows the consumer to use their phone and interact with the product in a way that allows the brand to make the most of their design capabilities and it shows a different way to market a product. At the moment it’s a novelty, but it’s bound to soon become the norm.
Get in touch with our team today and start your next packaging project with us. Take your products into the future with packaging that will continue to keep your consumers returning as you find sustainable solutions that don’t compromise on quality.