Packaging for Digital Media

How a product or package will perform online and in digital channels is a hot topic among designers and brand owners. Considering that online shopping is one of the fastest growing channels, packaging is crucial. It must be capable of drawing in passersby at the local retail store, but also rise above digital noise. The challenge? Creating packaging that is equally appealing on any of the potential shopping channels—from the beauty counter to broadcast. Securing omni-channel consumers (or those who buy from more than just one channel) is also acquiring a customer that spends more. As a matter of fact, omni-channel shoppers spend an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in store, and 10% more online than consumers who only shopped from a single channel. Those numbers only continue to increase should the customer also purchase from another channel such as a home shopping network.1 In short, a digitally savvy consumer is a highly desirable consumer.

Regardless of the distribution channel, savvy packaging design always begins with understanding the consumers’ needs and behaviors. The availability of new shopping channels hasn’t changed that fact. However, now we must also understand the role digital platforms play in the consumer’s discovery of the product and, ultimately, the purchase of it. Below are some considerations which can help optimize your packaging across shopping channels.

The Essence of Package Design for Digital

When it comes to digital media, consumers are in the driver’s seat. They are searching for product via menu navigations on top online retailers such as Amazon and Sephora. They are querying via Google using keywords and phrases related to their top needs. Design should be considered accordingly.

  • Types of Brand Names That are Appropriate for Digital—The names of your brand and products play a prominent role in packaging. Names need to be clear and inviting to be most effective. Fun and playful names are great at building a brand tone and personality. But, if a consumer doesn’t already know your brand online, you are better off with clear and straightforward names like those below. These are more likely to get users to click through and visit your product page.
    • Descriptive—Names that evoke key ingredient stories like Shea Moisture or Marula Oil let the consumer know the ingredient benefits.
    • Founder—Names that reference a doctor or tell a clinical story like Dr. Brandt or Dermalogica build instant trust.
    • Evocative— Names like Bliss or The Art of Shaving evoke a feeling or user benefit.
  • Consider Creating an Experience—Well-designed outer shipping boxes, inserts, and even packing materials are an important part of the digital packaging experience. It must reflect your brand ethos. Considered and designed shipping cartons have an impact on consumer perception even post-purchase. According to a recent study, 68% of consumers felt it made the brand seem more upscale, 61% said it made them more excited about receiving the package, and 50% of shoppers said it made them more likely to recommend the product to friends.2
  • Digital Visibility—Is your packaging recognizable when reduced to a tiny image online? The same principles of color, shape, and good, strong design that worked at retail will now help you stand out among the competition.

Enhance Packaging with the Digital Experience

Digital media is a great place to support your packaging with all the content and information that couldn’t fit on the printed package itself. Here are some ways to support your packaging:

  • Brand Site Navigation—Your site navigation should have a variety of methods for consumers to sort and filter the products based on their needs.
  • Product Education—Today’s highly educated consumers are eager to know what is going on beneath the surface and how the products work.
  • Tutorial Videos— Creating “get the look” videos online teach your customer techniques for making the most of your product.
  • Show Results—Before and after images show consumers the results they can expect.
  • Clinical Trial Information—Clinical trials are an exceptional tool for creating proof of your product’s effectiveness.
  • Ingredient Features—Online you have the opportunity to highlight key ingredient benefits and provenance.
  • Reviews and Testimonials—A recommendation from someone who’s already tried the product can be powerful. Let your loyal customers help you gain new ones.

 Consider How Your Packaging Looks on the Small Screen

Home shopping takes a slice of the beauty industry pie, and it’s wise to create your packaging with that in mind. When thinking about how your products will appeal on the television screen, evaluate the following:

  • Ease to read from afar—When your product isn’t getting a close-up shot, you’ll still want people to be able to distinguish your product.
  • Colors and Patterns that are best for television—Solid-colored jewel tones look best on the TV screen. Avoid stripes and complex patterns which can moiré and vibrate on the screen.
  • Visualize Sensory Experiences—Packaging needs to visually convey the sensory experience with design. If you’re selling a product with a gardenia scent, images of white flora will help the consumer imagine what your product smells like.
  • Packaging that is easy to use and apply—Demonstrating how easy and quick your product is to use can be a powerful sales tool, easing consumer intimidation.

Construct a Shareable Brand

A huge part of the digital experience is how your brand is represented and shared on social media. Here are a few things to think about when considering how shareable your packaging might be:

  • Users’ tastes and lifestyles—People don’t want to share anything that doesn’t reflect their personal tastes and interests. User-generated photos are trusted seven times more than advertising and 56% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after seeing it featured in a relatable user-generated photo.3
  • Promote a hashtag to post to— This is a huge opportunity for packaging. If you want consumers to talk about your brand, create a place where they can direct that conversation.
  • Create Photo-ready packaging—Bold, colorful packaging is more exciting to photograph because it “pops” in photography. Avoid all white packaging or shiny, metallic finishes which can be difficult to see and read in certain lighting conditions.
  • Create experiences worth sharing—Have you given customers something to talk about? Is it the unboxing experience, the ease of application, or the product experience itself? It could be anything, but it should be something.

Your packaging is your most important tool for telling your product’s story. Consider how it will be perceived by different customers, and how it will be viewed and experienced on different media platforms. Then you can make the most of this valuable brand asset in the age of omni-channel commerce.

1 Harvard Business Review

Dotcom Distribution E-commerce Packaging Study

3 Olapic Consumer Trust: Usage & Attitudes Towards User-generated Visual Content

Sheri L Koetting is the co-founder and chief strategist of MSLK, a beauty branding agency based in New York. MSLK specializes in helping brands find their voice in today’s crowded marketplace through 360° brand positioning—from overall brand strategy to brand identity, packaging, retail experience, websites and social media campaigns. Contact: sheri@mslk.com.

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