messy on the go packaging
Tips to improve “to go” packaging and be the best in the industry!

If we earned a penny for every person who has been a victim of poor packaging while on-the-go, we’d be millionaires by now. Whether it be a mustard stain on our shirt, a hot coffee spilled in our lap, or a fender bender while driving and eating our Whole Foods sushi, we’ve all been there. Eating on-the-go is messy, but it doesn’t need to be.

Think about it… how many of the products we buy are truly designed to be “on-the-go”? How many of these are easy to open? Easy to eat? And aren’t a hazard for our clean clothes? If we could reduce the messiness factor by improving the way food is being packaged, people would feel happier and safer eating on-the-go.


How do we do that?

First of all, it is important to understand who your buyer personas are. In other words, to whom you are trying to sell your product. Defining your target market will facilitate the process of creating a package that will suit their needs.

For example, would you sell the same product to a 30 year old mom of 3 kids, running from school to soccer practice, who doesn’t want a messy car but doesn’t have time to stop for lunch, as you would to a single 25 year old guy, who has meetings all day and needs a practical lunch with no smell? Probably not.

The following tips will teach you how to improve your packaging based on your customer’s needs.


Tips to improve “to go” packaging and be the best in the industry!



The way you want your customers to interact with the packaging is key. You need to make it accessible, and at the same time, interesting enough to make them feel excited about opening it.

For example, if you are looking for ergonomic drink packaging, a thumb or index finger grip with anti-slip texture would allow you to hold the cup tighter. Not only are these two fingers the strongest in your hand, but they also offer better mobility.

Size & Grip

The package design needs to take into account how the customer will hold your product. The customer needs to be able to grab it and interact with it effortlessly. It also should be simple enough that anyone who buys it will know exactly how to use it without any difficulties. If the grip line is the same length as the package, fingertip landings would be helpful because they would provide more security when holding it. It is also important to think that since every human being is different, packages need to be able to address those needs.

For example, larger hands tend to be stronger than smaller hands. So if you are trying to design something for men and women, you need to think about the difference between a male hand and a female hand, particularly in strength and size. Ultimately, the final packaging should be designed to fit both, or should have two separate versions for men and for women.

Shape & Contour

Ergonomics isn’t just about how it feels in your hands. Sports beverages, such as Gatorade, aim to give your lips the same pleasing experience. The oval-shaped opening of the beverage contours to your lips to give you the dribble-free experience.



When human beings crave something, they do it based upon experiences they’ve had before, good or bad. This is why it is crucial to address any issues in your packaging that could alter the experience in a negative way.

For example, have you ever bought something really expensive online, and when you got the package, the product was not even protected and looked like they didn’t take the time packing it?

Human beings remember past experiences and the sensations they feel, which is why it is so important to make a good first impression. If you create a design that gives your customers the impression that you are taking care of the product, they’ll feel the same sensation of being taken care of as well.



Have you ever grabbed a Whole Foods paper bag by the handles and had one of the handles break, spilling all your groceries onto the floor because the handles couldn’t hold the amount of weight? Most of us have.

With this in mind, think about Mary Poppins for a second. Yes, the character from the Disney Movie. Do you think she would be able to carry so many objects in her bag if her bag wasn’t strong enough? Of course this is a bit of an exaggeration, but the idea is to think about how your customer will use your product. Don’t just sell a product and think that once the customer buys it, it’s not your problem anymore. If you want to sell something and maintain happy customers, think about the details. Think about how your package design allows the customer to enjoy your products without any annoyance so they keep coming back for more.

If your package is heavy, you may want to consider how your customers will be carrying it. For example, many food stores and grocery stores have been joining the trend of selling reusable bags by the checkout lines. These sturdy and strong reusable bags are becoming an increasingly common sight since customers tend to buy a lot of items at these stores and yet want to avoid the ‘broken handles, spilled groceries’ debacle mentioned earlier. By selling these bags, stores are ensuring that their customers will be able to carry even their heaviest items without the fear of a mishap.



The actual design needs to be easy to use. When a design is not easy to open or use, the customer will simply give up and move on. A good design should not only accomplish everything that the customer is expecting, but also transform their experience before even opening it. Without being easy to use, even the best designs are useless since they don’t serve a functional purpose or solve a problem.

One industry that has adapted to this new trend of ease is the wine industry. Single-serving cans of wine that are easy to open and share are becoming increasingly popular.

Designs made to be reused multiple times are very successful because they allow you to save the product for later, instead of having it all at once. Snacks foods are jumping on this trend.



Visuals are key. With so much competition out there, you have to be able to create something that will grab the attention of the customer. If your product is not appealing enough to grab the attention of the customer, he/she is unlikely to pick it up and explore it further. The eyes are the first part of the body that will encounter the product, so the visuals need to be striking.

The quality of the visuals can immediately determine whether you gain customers or lose them to the competition. Because if a customer is trying to decide between two products and one of them is more attention-grabbing, looks easier to open or looks less messy than the other, they will most likely choose the one that stands out and fits their needs.

You can even go an extra step with visuals by adding personalization to your packing. Some small companies have transformed their marketing strategy by personalizing their packaging to their customers needs. Personalized designs not only make the customer feel appreciated, but it also makes them feel part of the company too. Specific colors, shapes, textures, and words are important add-ins that will make the design attractive for the customer and therefore more successful than others.



Now that you have read about the different aspects of packaging and have learned some basic tips to improve it, you can identify what makes successful packaging. So next time you buy something, you might think about the different positive and negative aspects of the product’s packaging, and maybe even come up with some ideas on how to improve it to better address customer needs.

The customer experience starts when they get the package in their hands, not when they open it!

Check out our food packaging design guide for more on the process of designing your packaging.

If you are looking for a cpg branding agency to help you with your food packaging design, let’s talk!

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