20 June 2022

The Silent Salesman: Psychology Of Packaging

Silent salesman

The silent salesman of the marketing industry, packaging is well-known for being the selling point for the majority of products. The average consumer makes around 10,000 decisions a day, but 63% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product from the packaging than the actual item. 

Here are some quick-fire statistics that will show you the importance of packaging:

  • 74% of consumers report that they’re more likely to buy from brands who are honest and transparent with the information they put on their label. This helps to build consumer trust and improve customer retention 
  • 60% to 80% of consumers won’t return to a brand if there is no ‘wow’ factor or experience
  • 61% of consumers say that they are more likely to repeat a luxury brand purchase if the product came in premium packaging
  • 81% of consumers have tried something new because of the packaging a product or service came in
  • Over 70% of purchases made in supermarkets are unplanned


The Importance Of Psychology

Whether it is positive or negative, packaging has an effect on human psychology and businesses are understanding why it can be hugely beneficial to their sales if they understand it too. From what it looks like, to how it feels, consumers are placing more and more importance on the packaging of a product as supposed to the actual product. With social media encouraging a focus on how things look, and 40% of consumers putting pictures of their purchases online, it’s no surprise that businesses are making the most of studies and information to tap into new markets and make the most of existing ones.


Here is why the packaging you choose is so important when getting a potential customer to buy your product:

  • The quality of your packaging shows the quality of your product. If they don’t match then your customer will experience disappointment and believe that they were misled. The best way to combat this? 
  • Quality is good and quantity is bad. 55% of consumers have mentioned that they are concerned about the impact product packaging they purchase is having or will have on the environment. Consumers prefer it when products have less packaging and little to no plastic, a higher awareness of the chain reaction which their purchases have on the world around them means that over 85% of consumers in the last 5 years have moved towards more sustainable buying practices. Brands are having to address climate and sustainability issues with their packaging as well as the consumer demand for more ethical products by producing product packaging that might be a little bit more expensive but will feel more exclusive.
  • Packaging is tactile so it will have more of an effect on your customer than a picture of your brand would. The human sense of touch is directly linked to emotion in the brain which means that your packaging will elicit an emotional response from the consumer, and be more memorable which helps them to imagine owning the product and incorporating your brand into their lifestyle. 


It’s All About Looks

The visual cues of packaging are such that consumers can see packaging from 12 feet away and recognise the brand, the shape, the colors. At this time the customer begins to engage with the packaging. From 3 feet away the consumer can begin to interact with the packaging, the details will be visible including size and smaller typography. From 1 foot away the consumer will decide whether to pick up the packaging or not – this is when your packaging needs to stand out from the rest and make a positive impact on the consumer. However it should still be recognisable as packaging. The mechanism should be familiar as well as easy to use – the memory model theory tells how humans are more likely to connect with objects which visually identify with mechanisms their brain already understands. Your aim is to get the consumer to hold your product in their hands, this creates a psychological reaction which increases the chance of reaching the sales point. If the consumer can touch it – they can better imagine owning it.

Here are the most important areas of design psychology to know about your target audience and brand, so as to get to that final 1 foot of interaction with the consumer:


Whatever your brand palette is, make sure it is attractive to your target audience and a good psychological match to what your brand is all about. Different colors stimulate different areas of the brain and are associated with different areas of life as well as business sectors. For example if your brand is going for a sustainable look then green, brown and neutral shades are the best palette to choose. 


The shape of packaging has a more subliminal effect on consumers. Each shape emotes a different psychological reaction for your customer, most people prefer rounded shapes because they are ‘safe’ – from the perspective of evolutionary psychology our brains are wired to prefer softer shapes because they are less likely to cause harm and therefore do not need to be avoided or over-analyzed. Sharper shapes are more likely to cause stronger reactions to the image or brand, they are stronger and more masculine. Regular shapes cause reactions of familiarity; irregular shapes catch attention and show spontaneity, creativity.


Texture has an important role in consumers choosing packaging as well.It tells a customer what sort of business you are, the quality of your product and it also gives a tactile memory which will stay with your customers long after they have put the product down. Touch and memory are inextricably linked, for example in a scientific study participants were blindfolded and had to touch a variety of household objects then recall them when given the original and a similar one – participants had an 85% success rate in correctly remembering a product a week after spending just 10 seconds touching it. The accuracy rate for correctly recalling the objects when holding the original and a similar one immediately after doing the test was 94%. 


Whether it’s an illustration, a physical image, a mascot or your logo – the image which you use for your packaging is very important. An image speaks a thousand words and your image must speak a thousand words which will make your customer instantly connect and want to purchase your product. 


The size of your packaging is also important. How much of the product is actually held within the packaging, how much of the packaging is decorative, how much of the packaging is necessary within that. As well as reducing your shipping costs, correctly sized packaging is better for your sustainability rating and for your customers as well. A survey showed that 8/10 customers would prefer more sustainable packaging – so it’s in your best interests to keep the size in line with the size or quantity of your product and to use less materials on your packaging so it is easier to recycle and takes up less space when shipping.


Even the sound of packaging can have an influence on consumer purchase decisions, Sun Chip’s biodegradable packaging was introduced in 2009 but discontinued in 2010 because consumers complained that the packaging was too noisy. This is why market research is so important for designing the perfect packaging for your brand, without it you might as well be making a bridge without knowing a thing about engineering! 


Silent Salesman

Whether you love packaging or think it’s just a helpful shipping device, you cannot deny that it has a huge impact on consumer purchase decisions. Getting the right packaging for your brand and products is incredibly important if you want to increase sales and improve customer retention. Three quarters of consumers would prefer to touch a product before buying it, but to get to that stage you need to have caught the attention of your potential customer. And that’s where BPAK can help.


If you want help improving your packaging and understanding the psychology behind your brand’s potential designs then get in touch with our team of trusted professionals at BPAK.