Know Thy Customer: The Psychology of Package Design

1/28/2015

A package may be beautiful, sturdy, and cost-effective, but if it doesn’t inspire consumers to make a purchase, it has failed its ultimate purpose. It’s important, then, for designers to understand the psychological factors that motivate consumers and drive purchasing behaviors. Here are a few package design strategies that work because they take the human psyche into account.

Communicating Authenticity
Today’s moms emphasize authenticity when raising their children or making their homes. Packaging designers can build brand loyalty with these Millennial moms by employing a homemade or artisanal sensibility rather than focusing on an idealized vision of perfection.

Betty Crocker did just that when they introduced new cake mix packaging designs that replace their iconic red plastic spoon logo with a wood grain spoon. The redesign also features imagery of cakes with imperfect edges and realistic lighting and staging—all with the goal of appealing to modern moms’ “down to earth” sensibility. Natural-looking, recyclable paperboard is certainly an ideal substrate for engaging this desire for authenticity.

Appealing to the Male Shopper
Today, young men are waiting until their 30s to settle down and raise a family, during which they are making their own purchasing decisions. Even after they settle down with a partner, more than 65% of men now are responsible for purchasing items that were once the sole venue of women, such as the family’s clothing, hair and skin products, and personal care items.

Packaging designers should not rely too heavily on male stereotypes when designing packaging for male consumers in these market segments. However, since men are much less likely than women to evaluate all of the options a store has to offer, packaging must be immediately engaging or the male shopper will pass it by. Young men generally respond to simple, bold designs that clearly and concisely address their questions. Popular motifs include black backdrops with bold graphics and the use of masculine special effects such as wood grain, matte finishes, and rough textures. Of course, there is no better substrate for highlighting these masculine special finishing effects than paperboard.

Assuaging Green Guilt
As global warming, food shortages, pollution, and other critical sustainability issues have come to the forefront of our cultural consciousness, consumers have become increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of their behaviors. In fact, today 29% of Americans say they suffer from “green guilt,” or the act of feeling guilty over not recycling or turning off the lights before leaving the house.

Although consumers want to lead greener lives, they still want to purchase the products they enjoy—and to do so with a minimum of hassle. This is where paperboard shines. A renewable, recyclable substrate with myriad graphic and structural possibilities, paperboard showcases a product’s desirable aspects (i.e. appealing images of food) while giving consumers the peace of mind that their purchase is making a positive impact on the planet.  

Promoting Autonomy
Both children and the elderly strive to maintain their autonomy as they respectively gain or lose dexterity and eyesight with age. Giving children the opportunity to accomplish small tasks on their own, such as learning how to open and close a carton, is crucial in building self-esteem, developing essential problem-solving skills, and even learning how to accept responsibility and behave morally. On the other hand, providing packaging that is easy for an elderly person to open and close with arthritic fingers or failing eyesight allows seniors to live more fulfilling lives for longer periods of time.

Since people over age 50 own more than 80% of the financial assets in the U.S.—and children influence up to 80% of household buying decisions—CPGs should cater to these influential demographics by creating package designs that are easy to open and reseal. Although each demographic has its own design preferences, the use of easy-to-open paperboard can support important social functions such as increased autonomy for the elderly and self-esteem building in children.

 

Throughout our lives we hold deep-seated emotions and beliefs that motivate our behaviors, and designers should keep these psychological motivators in mind in order to create successful packaging. Today, such thoughtful design should undoubtedly include paperboard, as its versatility and sustainability accord with modern consumers’ desire to live genuine, authentic, and green lives.

graphics
marketing
package design
paperboard packaging
psychology
sustainability
Vox Blog Latest Articles
There Are Managers, and Then There Are Leaders
  • There Are Managers, and Then There Are Leaders
    12/1/2017

    By Tiffany Koettel, Business Development Manager, Caraustar Imagine your all-time favorite boss. Did she or he micromanage ...

  • There Are Managers, and Then There Are Leaders
  • There Are Managers, and Then There Are Leaders
    12/1/2017

    By Tiffany Koettel, Business Development Manager, Caraustar Imagine your all-time favorite boss. Did she or he micromanage ...

  • There Are Managers, and Then There Are Leaders
  • There Are Managers, and Then There Are Leaders
    12/1/2017

    By Tiffany Koettel, Business Development Manager, Caraustar Imagine your all-time favorite boss. Did she or he micromanage ...

  • What’s Next for the Technical & Production Committee?
  • What’s Next for the Technical & Production Committee?
    11/29/2017

    By Bob Neff, T&P Chair, Neff Packaging Solutions  Part of PPC’s mission is to help members learn about the ...