Your product packaging is very important as it can often be the first touchpoint with your customer depending on where you sell. If your customers developed a relationship with your brand online and decides to make a purchase, this will be their first chance to truly connect with your product. And the packaging will impact their first reactions. When deciding on the packaging, you'll want to think back to who your ideal customer is and why they want to purchase your product. This will help you figure out what you're packaging needs to say about your product and what a customer should expect from it.
There are three main aspects related to packaging that we will discuss in this section; what is the information that you would like to communicate with your packaging, choosing your packaging materials, and designing the actual packaging. When trying to determine what you would like to communicate with your packaging, some useful questions to ask yourself are, how can you use your packaging to differentiate your product from your competitor? Is your customer looking for a high-end product, or are they more cost-conscious?
Are they willing to pay a higher price for a premium product? Is your customer looking for a cheaper alternative to an existing product they already use? Are they buying it because it uses the best quality ingredients and materials or just because it tastes or looks good? Do you think your customers are looking for something that looks mass-produced, or do you want it to look like a craft product that is locally made? Where you plan to sell your product can also help direct what kind of information needs to be on the package.
For example, will you be only selling online where you can provide a lot more information, or will it be mainly in retail spaces where your product will be sitting on a shelf and your packaging will be the only thing to provide information to potential customers? Or will you be at shows or markets where you'll have the ability to talk to customers and explain the benefits? All of this information will inform your packaging decisions and is very important to think about. Once you have a good sense of what information needs to be communicated, you will need to determine what the actual packaging materials will look like.
Some of the research you have done previously about competitors will help at this stage again. Do you want your packaging to be completely different than your competitor's or similar so that customers know what to expect? For example, if you're selling pasta sauce, do you want to use a completely new container like a flexible pouch with a spout, or does it make more sense for you to use a glass jar so people feel familiar enough with it to give it a try? If you will be selling online, another element of packaging is the unboxing experience.
How will your customer feel when they receive your package in the mail and open it? The way it is ultimately shift will also affect the overall experience. We encourage you to head to our Resources section to learn about how to create a branded unboxing experience to learn how to surprise and delight your customer. Once you have done some validating and know what direction you want to head in, you may want a more branded experience-focused packaging. This type of packaging will really be a big part of your customer's experience with your product.
Keep in mind how long a particular type of packaging will take to put together once you start production. Are there many steps and can it easily be scaled up when your business picks up? Once you've decided on your product info, packaging materials, and overall feel, it's time to design the final look of the packaging. This can be done by yourself or by hiring a designer to help you. We highly recommend hiring someone to help you with this as it often requires very specific skill set and is such an important part of your product.
You can find designers on websites like shopify.com/experts, Upwork, 99designs, or The Dieline. Keep in mind when you're looking for a designer to be clear on if you'd like their help to also design your logo, which we'll talk about in an upcoming module. Take a look at their portfolio to see if their style aligns with what you're looking for. Ask to see work that they have done for others and be sure to understand their fee structure-- by the hour or flat rate.
When you do get your packaging, ensure you test it with customers and get their feedback before you start placing large orders. At Jaswant's Kitchen, there were two main criteria that helped guide us with respect to our packaging. First, we knew that we wanted to create a product that looked amazing and communicated that the product inside our packaging was very high quality and really differentiated itself from the cheap and mass-manufactured competitors on the market at that time.
We sought inspiration by looking at products that we loved and that made us feel amazing. We looked at food products, cosmetics, perfumes, and any product that we felt told a great story through their packaging. Once we started introducing our products to the market, people always commented on how beautiful our packaging was, which felt amazing and was exactly what we were going for. Second, we needed flexibility at the beginning, meaning we wanted to be able to easily change things as we got initial consumer feedback.
We kept the packaging simple at first but made sure the look of our label with our branding, et cetera was clean, modern, and communicated high quality. Soon we realized that the packaging that worked for us when we were doing shows and talking to people in person didn't necessarily work well when we entered retail stores and people would simply see our jars on the shelves. Eventually, we added some new products to our line that were packaged differently for the retail market and communicated things much more clearly, which was necessary as we weren't going to be there in stores to explain our unique products to new customers.
The fact that we did smaller production runs allowed us the flexibility to adapt as needed. You don't want to order 5,000 units of packaging and then realize that you need to make changes. Make sure you ask about minimum order quantities as you look at different packaging options as well. And keep in mind that it might still make sense to spend more money on smaller quantities at the beginning until you have validated what works best for your product. In hindsight, one thing we wish we had considered in the early stages was whether the packaging type we chose would be easy to produce when we needed to quickly scale up.
While suddenly needing to increase production is a good problem to have, we recently needed to make changes to our packaging yet again using a new type of material that would allow us to work with new machinery, resulting in much faster production. If you can think about that upfront, it can save you time and money. Packaging is a big topic. Keep in mind that you'll always be testing and refining. You don't have to aim for perfection at first.
Your packaging needs will continue to change over time, and what works at the beginning may not work as you enter new retail markets or as you scale up your production. You will never have the perfect packaging for all situations. Even large companies often redesign their packaging to meet new requirements or needs. Packaging is always a work in progress. In the next lesson, we'll talk about how to price your products so you can make a profit.