Just How Important Is Your Packaging To Your Customers?

You could be selling premium products are a premium price. Or you could be selling generic products at a rock bottom price. Whatever product you’re selling, your price point will determine the quality of the product’s packaging (or lack thereof). Yes, customers pay for the product itself, and will most likely dispose of the packaging material almost immediately. So is it even logical to invest so much into the packaging?…

How It All Started…

I was meeting up with an old contact whom I haven’t met for some time already. As usual, we adjourned to a nearby coffeeshop, and began what was supposed to be an informal chat. And the topic of packaging was brought up in the process of our conversation.

This old contact of mine (let’s call him Bob), has a business selling house-brand stationery supplies. Bob’s customer base consist mainly of retailers and large volume corporate clients. Hence, it’s more of a wholesale business than a retail front. Bob’s customers are mostly walk in, but he also has some overseas and outstation customers too. Hence, he has to courier the products to these customers.

The main topic of this discussions now opens – Bob asks whether will the packaging that he uses to courier his products in, matters to his customers. At present, he gets hold of whatever carton boxes that he can, packs his products in them, stuff the empty spaces with crumpled up old newspapers, and then seal the cartons up… Yup, exactly as how most of the online marketplace retailers send their products…

Online Marketplace Business Models

If you’re familiar with the online marketplace business models, you’ll be pretty familiar with how products get delivered. Marketplaces like Amazon, Zalora, Lazada, Shopee, etc., they all use the same modus operandi.

Technically speaking, the marketplace itself doesn’t sell the products that’s advertised through them. They’re only a platform for sellers to put their products up for sale. The marketplace itself will provide all the e-commerce facilities, payment gateways, branding and advertising work. All they ask for in return is a commission of the sale that is transacted through their platform. Hence, it’s a pretty attractive option for small or home businesses to get started. After all, you don’t need to bear the unnecessary business overheads associated with a regular retail business.

Because the sale doesn’t prominently display the identity of the actual seller, most buyers simply assume that they’re actually buying from the marketplace platform. That, plus the fact that most of these businesses are run from the comforts of their own home, not much effort are put into the brand awareness. And the first casualty that comes from this mentality is the lack of a proper packaging.

What the random box looks like on the outside.

Most products come boxes and/or over-boxes that bear little to no relation to either the product or the seller.

The actual product purchased, packed inside a random box.

So Getting Back To Bob…

Bob did exactly what most of the sellers were doing when selling from marketplace platforms. He literary recycled discarded carton boxes into packaging over-boxes to ship his products. All he needed to do was to cut out, or to delete the brand names that were originally printed on the said carton boxes. Stuff the loose empty spaces inside the box with some crumpled up old newspapers, and he had a secured vessel to safely ship his products to his customers.

Then he continued, noting that some of these customers never did come back for future purchases. Is this practice of using unrelated packaging material affecting his reputation as a product seller?… Would a proper carton box project a better business reputation?…

The answer was more complicated than it seems. A carton box printed with the company’s logo, name, and all the other accompanying information is only the first step. The same logo, graphical pattern, corporate colours, font choice, etc., should be similarly applied to all stationeries and promotional items, corporate gifts, corporate uniforms, etc. It is this consistency that your audience will relate to. And if they exposed to it enough, they’ll eventually relate to how you made them feel when they were interacting with you.

We have a word for this. It is called “brand”

So the question that Bob was asking wasn’t merely about the carton as per se. It’s more about displaying the brand identity on the packaging material, any packaging material for that matter. So how important is projecting a consistent brand identity?… Very!

Are Purpose Printed Packaging Material All That Important?

In a literal sense, it makes no sense, as customers paid for the product inside the packaging material, not the packaging material. But in a reputation perspective, if you couldn’t be bothered to make sure your overall delivery look neat, you’d probably not bother with the quality of the actual product either. I know it’s not fair to simply assume. But then again, people will judge you, regardless being told numerous times never to judge a book by its cover. It’s just plain and simple human nature to judge others.

The actual packaging carton of a MacBook Pro.

So if others are already judging you, why not give them something positive to judge you by? And the most important thing to effectively help people judge you positively is a properly curated brand.

Were you expecting something else other than an actual MacBook Pro inside this box?…

Hence, To Answer The Question…

Yes, it is indeed pretty important to have a properly designed packaging material. At least it is if you want to project a positive brand identity with your audience and customers. But will it guarantee to increase your sales bottom line?… We have no conclusive nor verifiable answer to that question. But common sense dictates that it will, at least in the medium- to long-term.

I mean, if you were the receiving end, how would you react to receiving a product that you paid a lot of money for, but comes in a recycled carton box? Wouldn’t you expect that it should also be delivered to you safely contained in a purpose build box? Wouldn’t you also expect the packaging to be printed with the identity of the seller too?

Should You Invest In A Proper Packaging?

If you intend to be in this business for the long-term, then the answer is an absolute “yes”. But if this is just a one-off transaction, or if you couldn’t be bothered to maintain your business identity, then you can absolutely get away with it.

Getting a box printed is relatively easy – not exactly cheap, but relatively easy. Developing and nurturing a whole brand identity (which includes a proper packaging design) will be anything but easy. A worthwhile investment no doubt, but not many people will see it that way… So are you one of them?…

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