Packaging Innovation – Why Every Brand Needs to Innovate Their Packaging

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Derrick Lin


Written by Corey Gustafson, President at JohnsByrne.

Many products and brands have millions of loyal customers that purchase that same brand, often throughout a lifetime. They know the quality of the product, and appreciate being able to walk down an aisle, immediately spot a familiar package to pick up and toss into a basket.

Retaining loyal customers is critical for any product, but standard, never-changing packaging does not increase market share or make a product more competitive. Competition for all types of products is increasing with new players entering the arena, or changes or improvements to a product line now appealing to current consumer trends.

Industry Trends
For example, in the food industry, manufacturers offering products that are gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, or “friendly” for certain popular diets, such as keto or paleo, are gaining market share. In the health and beauty industry, the latest way to smooth skin, plump lips, or create a look presented by influencers on YouTube will fly off the shelves. YouTube makeup stars typically remark about how a new product is packaged, either positively or negatively. Cosmetic manufacturers can take advantage of a growing market by ensuring a new product is packaged specifically to appeal when touched, opened, and experienced.

How can innovative packaging improve sales and revenue?
Messaging about quality and performance must not just reach consumers but call out loudly from the shelves in an appealing and attractive way, standing out as unique among a dizzying number of brands competing for shelf space. Packaging appeal is related to every factor in product presentation, from the color, size and shape of a box, to tube, bottle, or jar. Logo, print, graphic design, shape and texture each play a role in stimulating consumer interest in a product.

Packaging Design Before & After – Keogh’s Premium Crisps

Product and Brand Recognition vs. Innovation
Companies spend years building brand recognition for logo, color, and design, and changing a basic color scheme could be a disaster, with all brand recognition built up over the years lost.

Minor changes with bold messages splashed on the packaging can attract the eyes of consumers, especially when a message addresses concerns or interests that consumers have expressed. For example:

  • “New Look” – This just lets them know that the look has changed, but the product inside is what the same product, and will perform as reliably as the last time they purchased it.
  • “New Easy-Open Packaging” – This can be appealing to consumers who struggled with an earlier version of a package, along with enticing new customers to try a product, bring back earlier customers who may shifted to another, comparable product due to unwieldy or difficult packaging.
  • “Eco-Friendly Packaging” – This is a call to anyone concerned about sustainability, a constantly growing audience. The term “eco-friendly” can refer to packaging that has been created from recycled materials or produces from recyclable materials. Either way, sustainable packaging been proven to be important to the growing number of environmentally-conscious consumers. Across all industries, environmentally-friendly packaging has increased sales and revenues, and proven that consumers are willing to pay a little more for a product.

Other Types of Packaging Innovations
Innovations in packaging that can trigger higher levels of consumer interest include:

  • Using tactile finishes like soft touch coatings and embossing to inspire engagement
  • Shifting from an uncoated stock to include eye-catching high gloss
  • Changing the size and or shape of the window through which the product can be viewed
  • Changing the structure of a box so that each box must be separated on the shelf for greater dimension and higher visibility.

Ways in Which Innovative Packaging Can Influence Consumers’ Purchasing Habits
Ask yourself the following three questions:

  • Is the product visible when compared to competing brands? This is probably the most important consideration. Obviously, if consumers don’t notice the product, they will not have the opportunity to be tempted to buy it, even if of superior quality or better value.
  • Does the packaging reflect the quality of the product? Consumers believe that the quality of the packaging is an indicator of product performance. They are programmed to see poor packaging design—graphically or structurally—as signifying a lower quality product. It can even make a new product seem old and uninteresting.
  • Does the packaging adequately do what it was meant to, and are customers satisfied with it? Yes, packaging calls out to consumers, increasing visibility and brand recognition, but there is more. It must provide protection for the product, with boxes able to withstand constant shifting without structural damage, rubbed off design or other problems that make it appear less valuable. A major complaint in online reviews is that a product arrived broken and had to be returned.

If you could not answer “yes” to those questions, it is time to consider a redesign.

About the author
Corey S. Gustafson serves as the President at JohnsByrne. JohnsByrne Company, a custom packaging and print solutions provider, has been a leader in the print and packaging industry since 1959 and partners with major brands in health & beauty, food and beverage, and consumer products. With a culture built around innovation, quality, design and speed, their offerings span value added folding cartons, specialty packaging and high impact direct mail.