There are two different ways to look at the packaging design process. Packaging can be an after thought as a means to an end: getting a product from Point A to Point B. Packaging can also be an integral part of the new product development cycle. One of these methods simply checks a box, while the other brings about opportunities for massive cost savings and a transformational customer experience.
When packaging is built into the foundation of the new product development cycle, changes can be made to the product itself early on in its composition to be compatible with the package. These changes can help reduce the cost of the package after the product is in production. For example, by adding extra braces to a product, such as a computer, it may not break as easily when dropped. This means the product needs less protection during distribution. Rather than considering packaging in a one-dimensional light, try thinking of packaging as an integral part of the product. This can lead to great innovation and success. However, when considered too late, it may no longer be possible to increase the durability of the product, causing the price of packaging to skyrocket unnecessarily. Therefore, it is obligatory to incorporate package design early and often in the product design phase.
While thinking of package design early can help save costs, the mission of a designer is multi-faceted. Once a product makes it safely from the manufacturing site to the store, there is a great need for the package to be attractive to possible consumers. A company can have the most efficient packaging system in the world but be completely unsuccessful due to aesthetic deficiencies. Any given grocery store has roughly 10,000 items on the shelves. Of those 10,000, the average consumer notices only 100. As if the odds weren’t stacked against the producer as is, consumers spend less than seven seconds examining a package before making a purchasing decision. Quite clearly, it is imperative that the design of the package encompass protective features, but also look appealing to the target consumer. In order to accomplish this goal, much like a scientist, a designer must analyze the trends and wants of the perceived consumer and craft a design that will cause this consumer to initiate a purchase.
It is incredibly tempting to look at packaging design from one angle. However, any veteran packager will tell you the science of design and the aesthetics of design are dependent variables. One cannot survive without the other, thus, the importance of understanding packaging design as a whole.