Is packaging a wise branding investment or just an expense?

Woman looking at package.

In most food product categories, the field is very crowded and the competition is fierce. Consumers often don’t perceive differences between brands in any given food product category unless a brand has made a concerted effort to connect with consumers and differentiate itself.

Product quality and performance are key differentiators, and the first in-store opportunity brands have to distinguish themselves is on-shelf through their packaging.  So, you have to ask, why do so many brands undermine their success at the shelf level with mundane “me too” packaging?

A 2014 Packaging Matters/WestRock (formerly MeadWestvaco Corp.) study underlines the importance and value of packaging as a significant purchasing influencer.  When asked about the influence of packaging on their purchasing decisions as new purchasers, repeat purchasers, and dissatisfied purchasers, survey respondents offered the following insights:

  • New purchasers: 65% indicated that packaging was a major factor in their first-time purchase decision.
  • Repeat purchasers: 55% indicated that their repeat purchase decision was driven by favorable experience with product packaging.
  • Dissatisfied purchasers: 50% indicated that they switched brands because of unfavorable experience with product packaging.
Packaging is the most tangible presentation of brands, at the most important touch point in the purchase decision-making process, in-store at the shelf level. Brands have about 5-7 seconds of a consumer’s attention to make a favorable impression and create a desire to choose their brand over competitors. The reality is that for consumers, the product = the product + packaging. Well designed packaging that reinforces brand values, positioning, and product attributes is a very wise brand investment.

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