How product packaging affects buying decisions

When the shelf is stuffed with many similar products from different brands, packaging design can just as important as the product inside. But how much does packaging really affect what choice we make when shopping?

First impressions matter. An infographic by The Paper Worker shows that this applies to product packaging as well. When the shelf is stuffed with many similar products from different brands, it can be the crucial factor for a purchasing decision. But how much does packaging really affect what choice we make when shopping?

In fact, brands have about seven seconds to make a good impression on a potential buyer. Not only does effective design let the consumer make decisions faster and easier, an eye-catching look can also draw consumer attention. Research shows that at least a third of product decision-making is based on packaging, along with personal preferences. This means that sometimes packaging can be just as important as the product inside.

The easiest way to catch attention is the right choice of color. It is the most straightforward and simple way to unify a brand and set you visually apart from costumers. However, shades need to be attractive to the target market and set the right tone to send a message of what a product is. For example, yellow tends to convey happiness whereas black means power control.

But it’s not only about the quick, first impression. Quality is an important aspect as well. According to the infographic, 52 % of online consumers say they would likely return to a business for another purchase if they receive products in premium packaging. And 90 % of consumers reuse product packaging boxes and bags after purchase. But the costumer can even become another marketing channel: 40 % would share a photo of packaging if it is interesting. With that action they recommend it to friends who then might become costumers as well.

The third way to stick out on the shelf is to be green: Sustainable packaging is popular among today’s costumers. Thus, recycled or recyclable materials are a bonus for businesses and environment. It doesn’t mean it has to be dull and boring. You can be crafty and creative by for example reinventing old materials like paper lunch bags.

But with all these factors, one thing has to be kept in mind: We’re still dealing with packaging and therefore something that is meant to be functional. It has to be easily mobile, include only necessary text and most importantly protect the product on the inside. Packaging should also help consumers know who your brand is. When a consumer sees a package, in the best case the brand should be able to be named.

Some brands actually managed to make their packaging the most important part of their branding. What would Coca Cola be without their iconic bottle that has even become a retro design feature? But the company also pushes forward innovative and sustainable packaging. For example, for one campaign they created a type of can that had ice cube images appear when the soda reached optimal temperature. Another bottle line was made out of plant material. And printing consumer names on the labels even turned choosing a coke into a sort of game.

For energy drinks, package design even seems to be the most important weapon as a recent study on consumer perception of brands by marketing technology company Affinnova showed. This category has been dominated by Red Bull and Monster for years. Despite Coca-Cola and Pepsi’s heavy spending in advertising and distribution advantages, their brands have been unable to gain share. Affinnova found that Nos and Amp’s package designs are the main reason for that as they fail to attract consumers’ attention. In particular, Nos and Amp performed poorly on package design personality, meaning that consumers didn’t associate their packaging with any strong brand characteristics.

Need some more inspiration? Have a look at our collections of inspiring packaging ideas, beverage packaging and green packaging.



Article Photo: Radu Bercan/


  • 11. Dezember 2015 23:09

    We are a Floral Marketing Company that sell bouquets to supermarkets all over US.Packaging is extremely important to our company.From our bouquet sleeves to our boxes we take great pride in what we have done with packaging.We believe 100% in this article.Style Color,and Storytelling are what separates us from our competition.

  • Hannah Pazda
    9. März 2016 18:31

    Who wrote this?! I’d like to be able to quote you in my university packaging essay!

    • drupa
      9. März 2016 18:35

      Hi Hannah,

      the original article is by The Paper Worker:
      You would have to contact them.

      Best regards,
      the drupa team

  • 26. Mai 2017 13:41

    Its a great article. Retail or shelf ready packaging designed around these principles will undoubtedly increase sales. DS Smith Packaging (uniquely in the UK) are able to digitally print these boxes to a quality and fidelity unheard of with flexo but without the constraints of litho. The HP digital technology further allows versioning and mosaic patterns all to printed at an industrial scale.

  • 11. Mai 2020 10:56

    nice information, thanks for author

    • Christiane Hermann
      2. Juli 2020 14:46

      You’re welcome!

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