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How to “Wow” Consumers with Your Packaging

To continue our series on packaging that sells, let’s talk about how to “wow” your consumers with this crucial piece of marketing. What draws your eye to a product in the store? I know I’m drawn to packaging that stands out that looks different than what I’ve seen before. I am also drawn to packaging that looks familiar, like a familiar brand.

The power of packaging at every level

If your product has multiple packages (i.e. a box set of beauty products), it is crucial not to neglect the secondary, or outer, package. Many brands focus only on the packaging of the product, and approach the outer package like it doesn’t matter.

“Secondary packaging shouldn’t be an afterthought,” says Earl Guinter, vice president, sales and marketing, Envision Packaging. He says that on occasion he will remind his customers that the carton is a marketing tool, not only a functional container.

Doris Dalton, founder of Doll 10 Beauty, says “The [Doll 10 Beauty] outer packaging has to look and feel luxurious. The customer needs to feel like they are opening up something special when they are touching the carton or box.” The box should have both a visual and sensual appeal.

And Pat McGee, vice president of marketing, HLP Klearfold, states that well-executed packaging helps to create an “added value” perception in the consumer’s mind. “This has a proven track record of enhancing a brand’s performance at retail,” he says.

The obvious goal of packaging that “wows” is to convert the prospect into a buyer, and to build brand loyalty. “Every brand strives to make sure that once a consumer picks up a box, they won’t put it down,” says John Rebecchi, senior vice president, DISC. Let’s go over some features of packaging that gets you customers.

Combining Color and Texture

These days brands are using color in many creative ways, and combining them with a variety of textural effects. As a general rule, the less color you use, the more you can play with texture, and vice-versa. Having too much of both can be overwhelming for the eye.

So, if you’re using a color-rich spectrum, it might be best to consider doing an all glossy or all matte finish. If you’re going for a minimalist look such as black and white, you may want to play with texture. Striking this type of balance is crucial to having a design that pops and draws the eye in, rather than repelling it with too much visual stimuli, or not grabbing it with enough.

For example, you could use foil to create textural interest…it has proven to be effective in recent year. “Packaging decorated with foil ranks more than 80% higher than non-foil packaging, in conveying quality, appeal, value and brand awareness,” he says, citing a study done by the Foil & Specialty Effects Association in 2014.

It’s important that the colors and textures you choose appeal to your target audience. Michele Squicciarini, senior sales director, Jansy Packaging, says that many of her high-end customers, especially fragrance companies, are seeking a chic and elegant classic look. “We have been fulfilling requests for cartons and boxes that have monotone and simplistic looks. We are also seeing more brands choose black and white more often than vibrant colors, and this is when choosing the right materials is critical for a high-end look.”

Other types of brands often chose a bold look. For example, Diamond Packaging created a black and hot pink carton for the Elizabeth Arden fragrance, “5th Avenue Only NYC,” saying it’s a good example of a design that “pops.” Their director of marketing, Dennis Bacchetta, says “This carton is “a strikingly visual and tactile presentation that stands out in the retail environment and conveys the essence of the luxury brand. It beautifully complements the design of the primary container—a glass bottle with tall clean lines, purple color palette and gold infused cap.”

A black heart pattern is featured on the carton, and it weaves together both matte and spot UV gloss finishes. “The front panels feature high gloss embossed accents that complement the interlaced matte and spot UV gloss pattern surrounding it. Our DiamondTouch soft touch coating adds an appealing tactile quality that promotes consumer interaction,” Bacchetta says.

Choosing the Right Paper

In addition to choosing the right colors and textures, make sure to choose the right kind of paper for your packaging. You could explore different finishes, weights, and colors to see what looks best with your design. Paper suppliers (and printers) will often help a brand with this process.

One paper company, Neenah Packaging, creates papers with embossings that look like animal skins (crocodile, snakeskin, etc.). Named “PELLAQ Papers,” they’re completely customizable when it comes to texture and color. Never settle for paper that you’re unsatisfied with when there are so many options like this available to powerfully display your product.  

Displaying the Product with Plastic

Consider using a clear or semi-clear plastic in a portion of your packaging. This allows your product to be on full display and may influence a consumer’s purchase decision. It’s much more powerful than a printed image of the product on the outer packaging. But a caveat for this is…make sure the product itself, and the inner package, are equally as powerful!  

Pat McGee, vice president of marketing, HLP Klearfold, suggests using design techniques on plastic carefully to maximize aesthetic appeal, and recommends that contrasting elements leave the most impact. “The most engaging plastic folding cartons are designed to take full advantage of the transparent substrate. Carton graphics that combine transparent areas that are left unprinted, with translucent areas, see-through color, and opaque printed areas are the most interesting,” he explains. “This type of design will give a plastic carton a three-dimensionality that will have the greatest aesthetic appeal,” he says. (see original article)

Innovations in Structure

Another way to stand out on the shelf is to experiment with different structures in your packaging (i.e. using a pull tab instead of a lid to open the box). Jansey Packaging has been creating boxes with all sorts of unexpected features such as multiple levels, lights, and floating elements. This makes for a much more interactive experience with the consumer.

Creating limited-edition lines with packaging that is much different than the rest of your product is also a huge hit with consumers. It will draw their attention to something they perceive as special and rare, especially if they’re a regular customer. Don’t be afraid to do a total 180 from your regular lines in any area of color, texture, finish, or structure. For example, Nars Cosmetics partnered with Greek LA-based painter, Konstantin Kakanias, to create its summer 2016 makeup collection. Inspired by the French Riviera, it features bright, colorful, and girly drawings on its packaging that scream fun in the sun.


In today’s highly competitive marketplace, your packaging must “wow” at every level! The outer packaging is just as important, if not more so, than the actual product packaging. Make sure to play with colors, textures, and structures to create something that appeals both aesthetically and sensually to the consumer.