How Packaging Design Influences Your Target Audience
When you look to market your product, you take everything into consideration, from your target audience to the product itself. One of the main factors that influence your target audience is packaging design. Your packaging serves two purposes, firstly it has to contain the product effectively and efficiently, secondly it has to market your product. If your product is going to be sat on a shelf in a store with hundreds of other competing products, then it has to stand out. You could make your packaging plain and simple, but this would ultimately influence no one. Marketers actually rely on the help of psychologists, who have managed to identify what it is that influences your consumers to make that all important purchase.
We all have a natural, subconscious response to colours, shapes and images, which, without our knowledge influence our decisions. Marketers use this to their advantage when looking to target a specific audience with their product. As each colour, shape and image can invoke a different response in our subconscious mind, their aim is to use this information to attract their desired consumer. For example, beer brand Hasseröder decided to change the shape of their bottle necks, from rounded to hexagonal; this hexagonal shape is seen as masculine and aimed to attract a male audience. This is just one example of how design can be used to target and influence your audience/consumer.
Colour is one of the biggest influences; it draws the consumer to your product and acts as the first impression for your product. Various colours can stimulate different responses in the subconscious mind – the part of the brain that is responsible for the feelings and emotions you experience when confronted with a new situation. Your mind automatically connects colours to certain memories, emotions or feelings. Some of these connections are:
- White: Usually associated with purity, cleanliness, space, innocence and neutrality.
- Black: Usually associated with power, intelligence, authority, security and death.
- Red: Usually associated with love, energy, blood, comfort and romance.
- Orange: Usually associated with happiness, warmth, stimulation, sophistication and energy.
- Green: Usually associated with growth, nature, health, calmness and envy.
- Blue: Usually associated with truth, loyalty, serenity, coldness and wisdom.
- Yellow: Usually associated with happiness, hunger, optimism, frustration and anger.
Marketers use these associations in order to stimulate a desired feeling or emotion from consumers, for example, colours considered feminine will be more easily associated with memories in female consumers than male consumers. While colours considered more masculine are more likely to be associated with the memories or feelings of men.
Messaging is another way your design will influence your target audience. Messaging accompanies colour in making a first impression of your product. It must be able to convey as much clear and precise information as possible within a short time. Messaging has to answer two main questions as quickly as possible (regardless of whom it’s targeting): “What is it?” and “Who makes it?”. Once these questions are answered and people realise what your product is and who makes it, you can focus on tailoring your messaging to specific audiences. Curved, fluent text is usually used with feminine products as the curves and smoothness of the text are seen to attract a predominantly female audience, while bold, sharp and stocky text is used for masculine products as it is seen to attract a more mainly male consumer base.
Another important part of packaging design that influences your target market is shape. The shape of a product’s packaging is important. While simple rectangular packaging serves its purpose well, different shapes are perceived as connecting with a certain audience. For example, packaging that is angular is seen as masculine and powerful, and resonates with men more than women – Beer brand “Hasseröder” is one example of this when they changed their bottle necks from a circular shape to a hexagonal shape. On the other hand, smooth, rounded shapes are seen as more feminine shapes and resonate with female consumers. Author A.K. Pradeep wrote in his book “The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind” that curved products and packaging “resulted in a 15% increase in sales” proving that product and packaging shapes do influence sales and your target audience.
While colour, shape and messaging will influence your target audience, you must also ensure that the packaging is as practical as it can be. The packaging of a product serves two purposes, it must effectively market the product being sold and effectively carry and contain the product inside. It needs to be easily transportable, storable and disposable. So, while colour, shape and messaging will be the main factors that influence your audience, if the packaging is not practical, consumers will aim to avoid your product. A survey conducted by GfK found that “two thirds of Americans agree packaging should be environmentally responsible”.
Design is something that doesn’t seem like it would make a huge difference to your target audience, but when you look at how marketers use design to influence their consumers to choose their product and make a purchase, you soon realise it has a larger impact than you imagined.
Paul Ward is the Managing Director at Direct Foam and Packaging (since 2013) & Direct Packaging Solutions (since 2001). Direct Packaging Solutions is a privately owned supplier of packaging materials, protective foam and postal products to the trade, industry and end users, with three sites open across the UK; Stockport, Deeside and Blackburn.
With over 25 years experience within the packaging industry, having started out as a Sales Representative at National Packaging from 1991 to 1996, later moving on to become Sales Manager of Cheshire Adhesive Tapes and Packaging up until 2001, at which time he became Managing Director at Direct Packaging Solutions. Today, Paul Ward is in charge of ensuring client and customer satisfaction, as well as absolute top quality control at Direct Packaging Solutions.