Unpacking The Packaging Versus Product Debate

For many years the debate has raged between product and design. Which is more important? Some will tell you that it is about style versus substance Others will say that you should never judge a book by its cover. Others will say it is about the message and not the messenger. But where do you draw the line and how do you get the blend right? Consider if you will the interesting case of make-up and humans. Make-up is essentially packaging for people. It takes the human and packages them in a more presentable way. But in purchasing make-up for themselves, to what extent do the people who wear it base their decision on eth packaging that it comes in versus the product itself and what it does to transform them. It is an interesting discussion. Here are a few thoughts to consider.

Does the box matter?

The answer here is without a doubt ‘yes’. Humans, by their very nature, prefer things to be packaged in ways that they can understand, and which makes them easier to consume. It is why cosmetic packaging boxes are probably as important as the product that they are holding. People consume both products and information in simple, bite-sized chunks and it is to this end that packaging exists. Indeed, the entire packaging industry, which many people would argue is essentially unnecessary, is not unnecessary. Studies have shown that despite the negative perception toward plastics, that fresh fruit and vegetables sell better when prewrapped and packaged. The same logic applies to any other product, it certainly holds true in the cosmetics industry.

Does the product matter?

Absolutely! It doesn’t matter how good the packaging is if the product that it contains is sub-standard. To carry the example from earlier forward, if it came down to buying a bunch of beautifully packaged but rotten bananas versus unpackaged fresh bananas, the latter would win. However, it has also been shown that fresh bananas that are well packaged will still sell better than fresh bananas that are not well packaged. So, in short, there is equal weighting that needs to be given to both the product and the packaging. And anyone who fails to pay attention to both is ultimately doing themselves a disservice.

Moving with the times

The next question is obviously about how often things need to change. The answer here is that it should be left to the experts. If you are in the cosmetics industry, then you need to focus on your research and development. On refining your product and staying at the leading edge of the industry. You are a cosmetics expert and not a packaging expert. But there are people and companies who specialize in packaging and they should be left to explore and develop new solutions in the space in which they are experts. It is obviously important to listen to what your customers are asking for, and to liaise with your packaging partners in this regard, but should you be developing new solutions? No! Obviously, fashion change and you need to keep up with the times and trends but put the onus on the packaging and design experts to do that, don’t lose focus of your core business and strengths.

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