In our Digital World, Your Packaging May be the Only Physical Connection You Have with Your Consumers. Three Ways to Make Sure it Counts.

The process of opening a new product can be a gift-like experience which embeds itself into the consumer’s psyche and can even be as great as the product itself.

Packaging is a visceral experience, and as our culture becomes continuously more visual, it feeds more than our desire for something to simply be a container. Our packaging has to mean as much as the product inside of it. Whether it has an aesthetic or ecological meaning, we want our packaging to be a reflection of us. There is a reason why brands rely on them so much. Without the right packaging, people will walk right by you, or even worse, not like you.

So here are three things to think about as you move forward with packaging ideas for the holidays and beyond:

1. The Outer Gift

In the best case scenario, we want our customers to be loyal, and packaging can build and maintain loyalty in a very tangible way. For example, think about a Tiffany box—many of us have never seen one in person, but if someone set one in front of us, it would take a lot to hold us back. There is an entire ethos surrounding that simple robin’s-egg-blue-and-white packaging, and it makes what is inside that much more coveted.

These experiences should be at the foreground of every brand’s identity, and packaging tugs at the very foundation of our consumer experience, whether we are aware of it or not.

According to Danielle Sauvé, Director of Customer Insights and Experience at Danaher Product Identification Platform, “Product packaging is often the only physical marketing channel that the consumer physically touches.”

So, customer loyalty is just as grounded in the tactile experience as it is in the visual and digital experience. Every detail is essential to address.

2. Seasonal Packaging

Adjusting packaging during holidays or other seasonal events is also a way to increase brand loyalty. If the packaging changes enough to be seasonal, customers appreciate the effort. However, be careful…adjusting for holidays or other events should only be taken so far. Customers still want to be able to identify the brand easily rather than hunting for it on a shelf.

Tasteful seasonal packaging is difficult to come by, so also think about how measured you want to be when implementing your packaging strategy. For example, as impressive as Christmas may be for many, the red and green combination can be a bit harsh or garish to others. Many who want to be more tastefully understated may go with more natural color combinations or interesting plaids.

3. The Inner Gift

Another layer of packaging that is just as important is the layout. How does it look once it is opened? As convenient as some packaging is, if each piece is bubble wrapped and jumbled in a box, the customer experience declines rapidly. One does not want to go from the elation of opening a beautiful box to cursing under their breath to unwrap multiple items in taped plastic. If the experience turns sour, you can bet that customer loyalty may as well.

Another common complaint is buying a product with the notion that the packaging is sustainable, only to get inside to find unrecyclable plastic materials. No one wants guilt wrapped with a bow.

So what does all of this mean for the brand? The consumer experience should be a pleasant one from the moment one starts looking for a product, through the unwrapping and big reveal, to the moment when they wonder whether they will keep the box or recycle it. It may be easier said than done for many businesses, but it is a necessity to think about every step of the buyer journey if you want to build and maintain consumer loyalty.