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Published On: Fri, Oct 7th, 2022

The Delicate Art of Leveraging Sensory Psychology in Packaging

In the past few years, consumer behaviour has changed. What used to drive them to make purchases in the past might not necessarily drive them in the present. In the midst of chaos, what consumers are looking for now is meaning. They want to shop for experiences that make products memorable and “real”. Creating purposeful shopping experiences for your customers can help you capitalize on opportunities of growing your business and sales.

Packaging is a way to communicate these meaningful experiences to your consumers. It communicates your brand’s story and adds value to your products. Innovative shape and texture are one of the characteristics you could leverage to elevate your packaging. Research has demonstrated that elevating a product’s sensory experience adds a level of connection with the consumer that would otherwise be lost. It also enhances their assessment of the product and seeing as packaging is the first step in their journey of experiencing your product, drawing on sensory psychology will add value that consumers will highly appreciate. But to what extent does this increase their purchase intent and your sales?

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photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

Shifting product perception

Psychology has long dictated marketing techniques in order to influence our perceptions of products and encourage us to purchase them. Research conducted on the implications of the touch and feel of a  product shows that consumers perceive the quality of the product through their sense of touch. And since the packaging is the first interaction your customers have with your product, it adds to their experience and perception of your overall brand.

Utilising a stimulus adds value to your product. For example, a study showed that the noiseier a bag of crisps is on opening, the higher the chances of it having an effect on its perceived taste. The results indicated that the consumers perceived that the bag that made more noise when they opened it was crispier and 15% tastier than the bag that didn’t make as much noise. The same applied to a bottle of carbonated drink as the more fizz the consumer heard on opening the bottle, the tastier they found the drink.

When your customer has a perception of higher quality, it can relate to higher purchase intent. Customer satisfaction is an important part of marketing practice. In order to increase purchase intent, you need to understand your target audience and take into consideration how they make decisions. In a study, 122 participants were questioned about their perception of the performance of a product in relation to their satisfaction with the product and its price. The study revealed that people are quality conscious, assessing the product in terms of its durability, reliability and sustainability. This leads to the reasoning that if your packaging offers customers the perception of high quality, it will increase their satisfaction and their purchase intent.

Taking advantage of creating highly visual packaging can guide consumer choices. For example, in food packaging, a yogurt cup that contains less or no sugar can have a distinct design compared to one that contains sugar, signalling to the consumer a functionally subliminal message of which product to purchase. And in an environment where consumers have a myriad of choices, the ones that stand out and are from brands that align with their personal values is the one that is favoured. Speaking to a packaging manufacturer that can give you the flexibility to cater to a diverse range of customers will give you a better opportunity to offer them a product that aligns with their values.

 Curtailing the Gimmick Economy

 While adding a sensory experience to your packaging you need to steer clear of cultivating any doubt in your customers. Customers look for value in products, and are suspicious of ones that claim to provide certain qualities when in fact they don’t. There should be a fine line between leveraging psychology to influence and encourage purchase and duping your customers with a gimmick. Pushing the boundaries in terms of innovation can be challenging but straddling this line effectively includes ensuring your target customers that your brand’s values align with theirs. Statistics show that 44% of shoppers are driven to products and brands that align with their values.

The eco-conscious demographic has grown with 81% of polled consumers saying they prefer to buy from companies and brands that practice sustainability. However, opting for a design that fits the sustainability mould but doesn’t live up to best practices can be detrimental. Because consumers are supporting eco-conscious sellers, many companies are attempting to pass themselves off as eco-conscious but those that offer products under the guise of sustainable-looking packaging, or greenwashing, undermine their customer’s trust. Their product loses value to the customer because it doesn’t truly align with their principles. Brand trust is built on the cause that your customers care most about. If it’s sustainability, then showing them how your brand values sustainability will build loyalty. And losing their trust could mean losing business. That’s why companies like GPA Global go through every effort to make sure that their sustainability practices are not just talked about, but put into action too. They engineer their own sustainable materials to drive change and reduce a business’s carbon footprint. 

Making sense of sensory packaging

Whether it’s visual elements, tactile features, olfactory experiences or auditory factors, sensory packaging will elevate your product and guide your customers when making purchasing decisions. Adding value to the product increases their purchasing intent and gives brands the opportunity to display how their principles align with those of their customers.

Author: Robert Fichter

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