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Let’s Talk About Packaging

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Consumers buy on the appearance and strength of packaging. Short of personally accosting shoppers in the aisles with an elevator pitch, there is no other way for you to consistently communicate your message in store. Packaging content (text) is important. Package design is important, if only because it promotes package content. Consumers are scanning the shelves for an appealing package the same way they scan library shelves for a good book. They’ll only take it home if the results of a cursory glance please them, and they’ll only give it a cursory glance if it was interesting enough to pick up in the first place.

What are consumers looking for when they be stow their cursory glances?

One thing we can say: boxes and tin cans are out. Not out as in obsolete, but out of favor. Flexible packaging – bags and pouches, plastic and aluminum foil – has taken the shelves by storm. Consumers gravitate to its friendly and inviting aspect: it’s not sharp or blunt, and its material lends itself to a host of tricks and quirks of design that rigid packages can’t attain. Retailers love flexible packaging because they can present it in so many ways: standing in rows on the shelves, hanging from peg hooks, piled in a dump bin smack dab in the center of action alley. Either way, it takes up less space than its cardboard counterpart, and in retail, space is money.

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Photo Credit: theimpulsivebuy via Flickr cc

In the grocery category, where flexible packaging has worked its greatest wonders, resealable bags and pouches are gaining swift ground on their stale brethren in cardboard boxes. Flexible packaging’s look, combined with resealable function, inspires snacking and encourages eating on the go, so its contents are more likely to be picked up on a whim.

So flexible packaging is in.

How does it look? We mentioned flexible packaging’s superior customizability: graphics and finishing’s, it takes any and all. Popular now are the all-natural, matte finishing’s. These are smooth but not glossy, bright but not glaring, restful to the eyes. A shopper might feel more inclined to touch and handle a package with such a finishing, since it escapes the cold and slippery look of high-glass plastic. Flashy ads and towering billboards have taken their toll. Consumers are weary of big and bold and industrial. Instead, they’re opting for simple and minimalistic design, text that looks like your fun sister’s handwriting, crafty, quirky, lighthearted, high contrast but not gaudy. Then there’s the hipster subculture, to whom none of the rules apply. Since almost no one self-identifies as a hipster, we’ll prefer the expression “fashionable young person.” If your product’s target customer is a fashionable young person, banish words like “crafty,” “quirky,” and “light-hearted” from your mind. Let one word be your guiding light: cool. Think fashion, culture, technology. This kind of design is often black, usually stark, almost Spartan.

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Photo Credit: Julien Menichini via Flickr cc

Just because it’s retail doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. The resignifying of products through clever packaging fits right in with the crafty, quirky, lighthearted motif so popular with everyone but the hipsters. A product is resignified if it participates in the design of its package in a meaningful way (holding the package’s shape does not count). You could say the honey inside a honey bear bottle is resignified, though it only contributes its color. M&Ms are resignified on the package with eyes and arms and legs. Some packages employ see-through elements so the product inside completes a picture on the outside. Others build their graphics out of images of the product itself. Your goal is to make your product look fun and approachable by making your packaging fun and approachable. Flexible packaging, matte finishing, minimalistic design – trends like these simply indicate what customers currently find engaging. Maybe you’ve heard of emotional dictionaries? They define words in terms of the feelings they inspire. Packaging is defined in the same way.

Rapid Prototypes Announces New Advanced Packaging and Display Flatbed Printer

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 (Bentonville, Arkansas) — Rapid Prototypes will be turning the Northwest Arkansas packaging and display world on its head with the launch of The Rho P10 HS Series by Durst, a digital printer that defines a quality standard for industrial production level machines with

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