Understanding the Marketing Perspective on Packaging

Packaging is an art, science and technology all rolled into one. More than just a pretty color or pattern, packaging does more than protect or present a product to the consumer. It tells the story of a product and the story of the company behind it. Packaging also encompasses the creative process of developing, testing, and creating individual packages. There are many different facets of packaging that affect a company’s success.


Companies create and set the stage for successful packaging with their marketing campaigns, labeling and packaging efforts. The success of packaging depends on the effectiveness of the underlying processes for creating, managing, and supporting packaging. The most important aspect of packaging is effective labeling and packaging. Learning about the components and functions of packaging and labeling processes can lead companies to successful applications of these core processes for effective product packaging and labeling.

In many cases, packaging does not begin and end with labeling. For example, a package may include only the bottle or container but may include other materials, such as foam peanuts, which allow consumers to pop a candy bar or other snack without spilling or damaging the actual product inside. Label-oriented packaging is more effective than packaging that does not incorporate packing materials. In many cases, the most attractive packaging is not actually the most effective for consumers. Packaging should meet two specific functional needs, allowing consumers to make informed choices, and ensuring that consumers do not inadvertently destroy, tamper, or open the packaging.

Effective packaging complements and supports marketing efforts by informing consumers about a product, increasing brand recognition, communicating key benefits, maximizing the value of the product, increasing sales, maintaining profitability, reducing product abandonment, and increasing brand loyalty. A packaging solution should have the ability to integrate seamlessly with the rest of the marketing mix. This allows companies to maximize their marketing and customer-retention efforts while simultaneously reducing waste and financial loss.

The first step to implementing an effective packaging strategy is to properly align packaging with the rest of the marketing mix. As an essential component of a comprehensive marketing plan, packaging should be a strong contributor to the overall success. Most packaging solutions utilize graphic symbols, color schemes, or short, punchy slogans to attract consumers’ attention. However, many marketers use label information, which provides additional information about the product. To enhance brand recognition, for example, some marketers use graphic symbols on the package cover, rather than full-color, clear labels.

Labels provide additional information about each product, including nutritional information, warranty information, ratings, reviews, photos, etc. Label applications also provide a quick reference for consumers. When packaging for a food product, for example, a nutrition and dietary assessment will likely appear on the label along with detailed information about the ingredients, allergens, and potential contaminants.

Properly applied product labels also create an effective branding statement for the marketing mix. For example, when a package is opened, many consumers examine the wrapping first. If the packaging includes attractive, eye-catching product labels, consumers are more likely to read the label and base their packaging decision on the product information listed on the label. Product branding also encourages consumers to consider the particular brand or manufacturer they are buying the item from, as well as the benefits of using that brand.

Because packaging has such an important role in today’s retail environment, it is important for marketers to clearly understand the purpose of packaging design. A thorough understanding of the consumer’s needs and wants leads to successful packaging decisions. In addition to evaluating the value of packaging in terms of return on investment and impact on brand equity, marketers should also examine the consumer experience when buying and using the product. For example, is packaging easy to read and use? Is it aesthetically appealing?