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The secret to successful packaging design – PART 4

packagingAn engaging pack speaks to its’ consumers by creating emotion through design cues and tonality appropriate with the brand essence.

Good designers understand the importance of this and hero it on the product packaging, showcasing the brand personality and creating a truly engaging pack.

What is engagement? The more a consumer engages with a product on shelf the greater the chance they’ll put the item in their shopping basket. Marketers have been trying to recreate the formula of engagement for decades in the context of advertising product, content marketing, social media, and online just to name a few.

When marketing executive’s talk “engagement” they are generally describing the various types of consumer interactions they deem valuable. In store, these consumer driven actions tend to encompass measures from consumer brand awareness right across the marketing spectrum, all the way to the more substantial measures of stock turn.

When it comes to packaging design, engagement is defined as: A pack’s ability to cut through and seize a consumer’s attention, and thereby driving a change in buying bias. (*Definition adapted from Marissa Gluck white paper on definition of engagement 2012)

The 3 key ingredients for creating engaging packaging design

The following questions act as an excellent checklist for packaging designers to ask themselves if they want to create an engaging packaging design.

  1. Packaging Design
  • Is the creative look and feel of the pack compelling?
  • Are viewers interacting with the form of the pack in some way?
  • Does the “functional” depiction of the product on the pack captivate the potential buyer’s imagination?
  • Does the packaging design represent the authentic character of the brand?
  • Does the pack convey the brand’s story?
  1. Packaging Content
  • Does the product description on pack grab the consumer’s attention?
  • Is the pack content easy and quick to understand?
  • Does the pack tell the consumer all they want to know about the product?
  • Does the pack convey the value of the product within?
  • Does the product sit in the green sector and if so, does the content and form depict “green” and sustainability?
  • Does the content convey trust?
  • Does the pack call out the “Reason To Believe?”
  1. Audience Engagement
  • Does the pack connect emotionally?
  • Does your pack answer the consumer’s questions firing inside their head?
  • Is the pack contributing to a social conversation?
  • Does the pack separate from the competition?
  • Does your pack entice, seduce and cause the consumer to fall in love?


Gen X, Y’s and Millennials are no longer loyal to specific brands. That said, digital printing now allow brands to drill down and target specific and relevant markets, demographics, language and interest groups. Digital printing allows for more personalised communication with consumers through varied messaging and visual components, whilst still staying on brand and adding no additional cost for the client, thus increasing engagement with consumers.

True one to one communication

Digital printing allows for true one-to-one communication with full colour variable data and messaging. This allows for highly personalised and customised seasonal promotional offers as well as easy testing of new formats without having to generate huge print runs. This method of variable design taking advantage of digital printing technology has a significant impact on print cost management whilst elevating the consumer’s experience.

Tailored messaging

Digital printing’s flexibility and ability to create customisable messages directed to specific consumer groups can massively impact engagement at the retail shelf. It has been well proven that tailored messaging of products to the various needs bases of specific consumer groups has a direct correlation to an increase in sales, new customers and subsequent brand expansion.

Prior to digital printing a tailored demographic approach would have caused mayhem for a business; increased plate costs, an increase in working capital across packaging, as well as an increase in proofing costs. The advent of digital printing has meant marketing can now use custom messaging and actually provide a cost saving to the business, whether this be through a reduction in packaging storage costs, or a reduction in packaging working capital.

Testing and researching your target market

Digital printing’s capability for short print runs, allow for true market place testing at the register, where it really counts. It’s no secret that satisfying consumer needs is best done by figuring out what appeals and engages best with them.

Traditionally this expensive research is conducted with focus groups, surveys, online panels etc. However, digital printing technology allows Marketers and Category Managers to test various designs on shelf allowing the consumer in the retail aisle to decide which design is most engaging and end up in their shopping baskets.


With the level of ROI tracking available as a result of printing digitally, brands are able to quickly identify if a campaign is effective or not and easily pivot, making modifications, where appropriate, to improve the campaigns success. Packaging design now becomes measurable where it counts … at the checkout.

Designing For Trust

Apply digital printing capabilities to design your packs to target individual demographics creating authenticity. Designing packaging using the idea of developing localised special editions eg: allowing a brand sponsors to incorporate winners onto packs the day after they win a sponsored tournament.

Ian Segail is the General Manager – Operations at Sydney-based branding, packaging and design agency Jam&Co.
Read Part 1 of the series here.
Read Part 2 of the series here.
Read Part 3 of the series here.

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