The psychology behind package design and the allure of shiny things.

How many times have you picked an item off the shelf just to get a better look at the packaging? If you’re anything like us, you’ve done it countless times—how could you not? Pretty illustrations, bright colors, fancy die lines and metallic finishes have a way of captivating our attention.

In fact, we often correlate a product’s value with its quality of packaging. If a package is sturdy, sleek and contains well-organized information, we may draw the conclusion that the company pays attention to detail, thus creating an exceptional product. Therefore, it is paramount to consistently present a product in the best, most on-brand packaging possible in order to engage the potential consumer in-store.

You only have a few seconds to captivate that consumer’s attention, so here are some ways to ensure your product gets picked up off the shelf:

  1. Color.  Probably the most studied of all package design elements is color. The hue of a package evokes in potential buyers an intrinsic emotional response, so it’s important that your color choice conveys the right message. For example, reds tend to energize people while blues have a calming effect. Some color associations are less obvious, however, and meanings vary across cultures. A little reading on color theory can go a long way.

  2. Shape. An item’s shape can convey implicit associations; hence, it’s important to keep this in mind while devising a product’s packaging. Items with soft edges and curvature are often perceived as soft, calming, feminine. Those with sharper edges may come across as rugged or masculine. Of course, one must also consider feasibility of design: products with complex package shapes may stand out to consumers, but won’t always fit as easily on the shelf.

  3. Images. Consumers want the security of knowing what they are buying, so it’s important to convey the contents of an item on the packaging. Oftentimes, retailers will choose to place a window on their packaging so consumers can directly see the product within. When this is not an available option, an appealing and accurate image of the product printed on the package can suffice.

  4. Texture. There’s more to package design than meets the eye… there’s also touch! The way an item feels in one’s hands plays a key role in how the item is perceived: is the material sturdy? Do all parts fit together cleanly? Are there any interesting textures at play that might appeal to a consumer?

These elements of package design do not work separately from one another, but must seamlessly spell out a brand message as a full visual unit. The best way to know how your package design will look to a consumer is by conducting market research as well as—you guessed it—prototyping! As with any retail endeavor, the devil is in the details when it comes to prototypes, so it’s important that every element is considered when designing these and sending them to print.

Fortunately our sister company, Virtual Packaging, has recently received a printing upgrade, making it possible to print high-quality spot gloss on intricate details such as small text. This helps us and our clients get a clearer idea of how designs will print in mass production. The glossy shine and unique texture characteristic of spot gloss can be utilized among a variety of ways, highlighting aspects of artwork or marking important marketing elements (all natural, value pack, NON GMO, Vegan, Gluten Free, etc.) being two common uses. It’s a sure way to stand out and make your way off the shelf, and into consumer’s homes.

For more information about package design, prototyping and spot gloss capabilities, drop us a line!


Office: (817) 328-3900