The ability for a given consumer to associate a product with a brand immediately upon seeing it.
Packaging is a significant issue from a strategic perspective, with impacts ranging from the first impression consumers will have to environmental policy to cost-cutting. How a firm packages a product is therefore a key topic across various disciplines, with the potential to increase revenues, decrease costs, and maintain alignment with environmental policies and legislation.
From the marketing perspective, packaging strategies can have a significant impact on brand awareness, brand recognition, expectations management, and as a conduit of information between the organization and the user. Marketing, branding, and packaging must align on messaging, value proposition, and communication to accomplish the following:
The primary purpose of packaging from a marketing perspective is to underscore why a user would purchase a given product. This could be extremely simple, such as a description of what the product is. This could also be emotional, communicating what the product stands for. For example, perhaps an informed consumer wants to buy locally sourced food. A smart marketing strategy for organizations focused on local production would be to highlight this in big letters on the package.
Another important purpose of packaging for marketers is the capacity for building recognition of the brand. When you see a red can of soda with cursive writing, you almost immediately associate it with Coca-Cola. This is strategic on behalf of the company. It builds recognition, which can lead to loyalty.
Slightly different than recognition, building brand awareness is all about the opportunity to be memorable. Creating packaging that will draw the attention of a consumer will increase that brand's ability to convert the customer both in this instance, and in later instances. For consumers, their attention is a much desired commodity for organizations. Packaging is an opportunity to accomplish this.
A key component of effective marketing is ensuring the consumer gets what they expect (and preferably a bit more). This way, the association of the consumer is a positive one when considering the organization, relative to what they had expected. Packaging allows for simple strategies in this regard, such as stating on the package that batteries aren't included, or that a given accessories isn't compatible with certain types of smartphones.
Another interesting and useful strategy within packaging is co-branding. Simply put, organizations often collaborate, and can benefit from sharing this collaboration. Ben and Jerry's ice cream uses a ton of different ingredients, many of which may be another organization's brand. Heath bar in Ben and Jerry's, for example, could be co-branded on the package.
Symbols and Icons
Packaging is a visual representation of a product, and can benefit from established and trustworthy markings of certain attributes. For example, a 100% organic symbol on a box of cereal would indicate to the user that an external third party verified and approved of the cereal manufacturer's production process. Using recognizable symbols and icons can build trust between the organization and the consumer.