Creative Gaga: Packaged Advice

CG: What are people’s perceptions towards packaging? Is it something they rip off and throwaway in the bin, or has packaging evolved than to simply ‘pack’ products?

Anthony Lopez: Packaging falls into various categories, each with its special purpose. We find, in every case, packaging has evolved to superior performance at one end and a tactile experience on the other. However, nowadays, packaging is alive for as long as it’s on the shelf. After the initial leg, the package is discarded and has no value left. In a move to preserve the old school of thought, some brands, like international watch brands, pack the product into a beautiful metal box, which finds alternative uses. Locally, Indigo Airlines sells cookies, almonds and cashews in attractive tin boxes, which again are reusable.

Ashish Deshpande: People are sensitive to packaging. They look for value all the time. One must remember that apart from communicating, a package protects, preserves, provides visibility and allows ease of carrying. The pack plays a significant role in the life cycle of the contents it packs. To presume that a pack is simply a wrapper that is peeled away and thrown is to undermine the functional efficiency the pack has displayed till the end of its life cycle.

Sajid Wajid: Today, people are more aware about brands and there’s no doubt that perceptions towards packaging have also changed. Packaging has moved ahead from being something which only showcases the brand logo. It has evolved into something which the consumer could use later on too. This has given longer shelf life to packaging designs. For instance, McDonald’s Happy Meal box can also be reused to be a bud box or even an iron box used to fold clothes.

Anoop Chalil: Packaging is a silent sales person which gives most of the information itself. For some it’s only information whereas to some it’s an experience or even just great art. There are many who have a keen interest in collecting perfume and beverage bottles to exhibit in their showcase.


CG: How important do you think it is when it comes to influencing people’s decision to buy products and brands? Give us an example.

Ashish Deshpande: As humans, we are judging all the time. We pick up a mango or an apple or a banana, and we feel the skin, we smell, we look for spots and other signs to judge the freshness, ripeness, sweetness of the fruit before we consume. Don’t we? Package of any product, precisely offers a very similar experience. A package speaks to us at all times. It provides the human mind with several micro inputs about the quality of what’s inside. The more seamless the experience between the product and the package, the more efficient is the experience. Who has not gone through the joy of opening a Kinder Joy pack? Or the ease of using Bajaj Engine Oil bottles that integrates oil filling and opening of the oil plug into a singular pack experience? These are all pack experiences that make life comfortable and the out of pack experience delightful for people.

Anthony Lopez: Where the product value is low and the market is crowded, the risk for the consumer is also lower given the parameters -comparative quality and price points. In these cases, yes, the consumer is judging the package by its cover to some extent. However, the value of the brand is at its core. A Booker-winning novel will sell more than just a book with a great cover -likewise, reputation is what gives strength to a brand. Packaging is also about clothing a personality. Through packaging, we give attitude and character to a brand.

Sajid Wajid: Packaging is derived from the classical conditioning theory that puts forward idea behaviour modification. Hence, packaging indirectly or directly influences the consumer to buy a product or brand. That’s because it’s something that strikes a chord between the subconscious and the conscious mind. Even though ingredients inside the product would be exactly the same, people pick the one that appeals to them at first go. In this case, consumers are oblivious that they are part of the scheme. A good example is how Apple influences millions simply based on the way they package their product.

Anoop Chalil: As we work in the era smitten by consumerism, it’s not wrong to say that people prefer products that are easy to use, store and cost effective. And packaging is one of the key factors of choosing a product over another. But, marketing strategy and advertising also influence consumers. It’s rare that people will buy an unknown brand based only on packaging. Many people fall for that looks good, and hence people may decide to buy certain products because of good packaging for they believe if it’s packed good it’s high quality.


CG: According to you, what are some factors that make a good packaging? Do you feel it could be misleading sometimes?

Sajid Wajid: Good packaging is like good food; it’s got everything in the right proportions. Precision is key as well, because if anything goes wrong at the point of purchase, it dramatically affects the product sales as well. Also, a good packaging should have a concept behind it. Apart from simply carrying an aesthetic appeal, the design should be made of proper materials as well as carry information about ingredients and other details. The last two points ensure that communication is not misleading in any way.

Anthony Lopez: If product packaging is misleading, then often times you lose the customer, as the promise is not kept. The truthfulness of the brand has to be retained at the core, followed by personality and character. The last two get defined based on the target group and by defining positioning and finding gaps in the market. If the product has unique qualities, there is a much better chance of differentiating the packaging to make it successful. McVities for instance makes the product visually appealing on the shelf. Within the package, larger cookies are individually wrapped. The packaging is both functional and gives the customer real convenience.

Ashish Deshpande: Good package is always an integrated experience with the product. It supplements as well as compliments the product. Great package experiences are simple, honest and that communicate the quality of contents in a transparent manner. When product package and brands lie about the quality, quantity and efficiency, and moreover, are complicated to open, use and dispense, those brands fail to earn loyal consumers in the long run.

Anoop Chalil: Simplicity, honestly, research, quality, practicality and product extension are key aspects of good packaging.


CG: Who do you feel is the real,decision maker in packaging design? Is it the designer, the client or the product/brand?

Sajid Wajid: The product itself is the sole decision maker in packaging design. It has its own identity and personality.

Anthony Lopez: There is no single magic driver. For me, it is the process that decides the package. And it works best when the customer takes the final call. In the real world, as we know, the client is the key decision maker and his involvement in the process is a turning factor. The designer is having a dalliance!

Ashish Deshpande: Packs and products are meant for people; those who make, sell and consume these. It is their needs that determine the packaging. The targeted users are always the decision makers. It is designers and sensitive clients or enterprises that need to be constantly looking for latent answers from their target users.

Anoop Chalil: The designer, client, product and consumer are all decision makers of packaging design. The designer gives shape to the dreams of a client with years of experience, practice and research behind it. Clients in return, give the entire study to the designer from their years of product, market and consumer research. In my opinion, everyone has an equal importance in packaging design.


CG: With more and more products hitting the shelves these days, what do you think is the future of packaging? What role is it bound to play? Who do you think will be in the driver’s seat doing that?

Sajid Wajid: We all live in the era of consumerism; we buy things that we don’t really need. The future of packaging is bright and glowing. It is quintessential for companies to reach out to consumers with the most eye catching product packaging. Ever increasing population and globalisation would be the driving force.

Anthony Lopez: In the price driven market, packaging is certainly going to lose its value. In the quality market, the brand experience matters a big deal. It is always a beautiful experience to unveil an Apple product. Yet, we notice that these very experiences are becoming the norm and being taken for granted. In the experience arena, there will always be a challenge for creating a head-swivelling package. A place for a competitive designer to drive is always there.

Ashish Deshpande: I see packaging becoming integral to product or ingredient formulation. It will become more efficient and integral to the product experience. Its life cycle will extend to the life cycle of the product with very little duplication leading to an efficient use of materials and resources. No doubt, packaging is a complex exercise that involves a wide range of skill sets from ethnographers, designers, technologists and material scientists to brand and communication experts as well as structural engineers. However, I see the designer playing a key role as a visionary and an assimilator.

Anoop Chalil: According to an article I read by Shyam Sunder BK, Chief Designer Product and Packaging, Tata Elxsi., packaging in the future will have certain objectives and demands. Packaging will playa key role in addressing aspects of safety as well as employ green designs. With life becoming busier by the day, onsumers will seek packaging designs that are minimalist, simple and offer durability. In the near future, we can definitely see several new forms of packaging that combine high performing materials with innovative applications like nano technology, smart and multi-sensorial packaging to take the brand experience to the next level.

Creative Gaga - March/April 2015
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