In a vacuum, most brands would claim that they want to use “unique packaging ideas” that will pop off of the shelf. But do they, really? Do yourself a favor and research the competition. Let’s see whether they’ve actually succeeded.
Go to the store. In fact, go to a store that you’re sure would sell your own product. Now take a look at all of the products on the shelves where it would be displayed. What do you see? Stop me if this sounds familiar:
- Most brands are working with similar color palettes or the same dominant colors
- One or two styles of packaging seem to have this product niche cornered
- It’s hard to find one product that really “stands out” head and shoulders above the rest
This is what we call The Sea of the Same™. In a world where 72% of Americans are deeply influenced by the packaging in their purchase decisions, this is a disaster. Take a few pictures with your phone—you’ll want to keep what not to do in mind as you design your own, more unique packaging to draw the consumer’s eye. Even more than what those other brands are doing, you’ll want to keep in mind what they’re not doing. This is your opportunity to flip the script and get noticed.
Now it’s time to work through some creative packaging ideas and decide which fresh approach will work the best for your individual product. Consider a few of these out-of-the-box approaches as well as examples from several brands that have unleashed some truly unique packaging ideas.
1. Tie the printing or packaging into your product’s theme.
Check out these printed boxes from Trunk Club, a men’s clothing service based out of Chicago with a try-on-at-home business model. They’ve cleverly made their box packaging stand out by making it look like something else—not just another cardboard box in The Sea of the Same™. In fact, it looks like an old-fashioned trunk! This ties the brand’s whole theme together and the packaging has become a part of their product and their story.
2. Offer the customer reusable packaging.
Perhaps you sell cosmetics. You could opt for a reusable, branded tote to package your products so that the customer can continue to use it for makeup even after they’ve taken out the product. Ask yourself whether there’s something else that the packaging could be used for, even after it’s no longer packaging your product. It’s even better if it’s somehow relevant to the product (or other things the customer likely will want to use with the product). This makes purchasing your product into a two-for-one!
3. Make your product part of the package.
For example, gnome-shaped bread bags can use the bread as a gnome’s pointy cap.
One design concept (by Nikita) for a pasta brand makes the pasta product into hair.
By why stop at head hair? This concept by Simon Laliberte turns paintbrushes into mustaches and goatees.
How else can your product play into the packaging to complete the picture?
4. Use a material no one else is using.
Almost everything comes in cardboard boxes or plastic containers of some sort. These may indeed be an optimal choice with plenty of room for creativity. But it’s worth asking: Is there some sort of cost-effective packaging material that you can use that will really set you apart? Consider whether printed parchment paper, twine, butcher paper, foil, or some other unique packaging ideas could really draw interest while also serving the practical purpose of packaging the product (either the interior or exterior).
5. Go green.
Eco-friendly packaging ideas are trending for good reason. Consumer interest in recyclable, sustainable, or biodegradable products and packages continues to grow every year. If you can make it clear that your package is an environmentally conscious choice, many folks will pick your product over the competitor next to it.
Options like compostable and biodegradable stand up pouches are bound to draw eyes. However, traditional plastics can also contribute to more environmentally sustainable retail packaging ideas. A spouted pouch for liquid products, for example, ships flat, stores flat, takes up less room, costs (on average) 50% less energy to produce, and takes up far less space in landfills than bulky bottles and jugs.
All of the examples of unique packaging ideas above combine form and function to send a creative message while helping the customer to understand, enjoy, or continue to use the packaging before, during, and after the purchase. Packaging innovations such as resealable, printed, or spouted pouches mean there are more opportunities than ever before to transform your packaging and drive sales with a better the consumer experience.