Product appearance can be the the biggest sales converter of all marketing influencers. Apple has built it's brand appeal and demand on it's product appearance. So much so that people pre-order products months ahead of release. Another brand that hangs it's success on visual appearance is Method. Investing in unique custom bottle, the product package, broke with traditional new product launch accounting. The package was the branding hook. For Apple and Method, product design was the brand elevator and continues to be at the forefront of their business strategy.
If you have a product attribute that is visually appealing is it worth investing more in the packaging?
Brands like Apple prove that it is. The success of Apple simplicity was achieved through a consistant brand and marketing strategy as well as tenacity and budget. Packaging plays an important role in product success and must be designed to the individual situation. If the beauty of the product was a development strategy and visibility will help push sales without the need for a lot of description then minimal package design could be a consideration. Minimal in appearance, Apple packaging is not minimal in production costs. Don't forget, the package has to protect expensive products.
We have come a long way from the days of "utilitarian design". The excitement and demand for products were soley driven by the benefits derived from using the product. A pot is a pot is a pot. You use it to cook. The old iron fry pan is still a great kitchen tool, but consumers now look for products that compliment their decor.And, the frying pan needs just a brand name and UPC. The luxury of minimal package and message is not available to all products. Package costs and the competition is often left to the last possible moment when you have a delivery deadline to meet.
So I raise the question again...
Does your product have a visual appeal?
Investing in fashion appeal has become an underlying factor in almost every industry as they innovate new products and update existing products. Designer influence of Martha Stewart can be seen from bedding, crafting to pet products. DIY market where the apartment dweller only needs to use a screwdriver occassionally has adopted a fashion style for that buyer. Shape, color, and style of a product are key factors in a buyers decision when all else is equal. Clear packaging allows you to show off your product's visual appeal and protect it from dirty fingers.
As we worked with our client, TheraPearl, we all knew the appeal of the product color and appearance of the gel beads was a magnet for customer attention in the store. Brilliant blue popped off the shelf. The gel beads attracted people to touch and squeeze. A clear cellophane bag allowed the product to draw customer attention, but it works in a limited number of outlets. For mass market the product needed more protection and branding impression needed to convey quality. A cellophane bag couldn't do that.
Package shape, size, color and images creates first impression in the aisle.
They make or break your competitive visibility on the shelf. The ability to stop someone who is racing down the aisle to get to the product they came into the store to buy is the ultimate goal of every designer. If the product itself is visually appealing the visual must feature the product, or better yet, allow the product to be visiable through a window or completely clear palstic package. Curling irons are a great example of using clear packaging. They are 99% of the time packaged in a custom clamshells that conforms to their shape. The customer can tell the size of the curl it will make and how to use it.
For TheraPearl, we designed a curved clear box with scalloped handle top to play off the "pearl" image. A cut out hole allowed customer to touch a portion, limiting the in-store product damage. TheraPearl product line has expanded to a wide range of hot- cold pack sizes and uses. Clear packaging remains the package material of choice to show off the beautiful, functional pearl gel beads.
Clear packaging isn't just for large companies. We have provided many start-ups with clamshell packaging design when clear packaging is an advantage to marketing their product in a store situation.
Check out our interview with a clamshell manufacturer: Is A Clamshell or Blister Package Right For Your Product Packaging? - Interview With A Thermoformer