17 September 2020

Don’t underestimate the influence of packaging in the home

Besides protecting the product, the primary role of packaging is to grab consumer attention at shelf, quickly communicate who it’s from and then persuade us to buy it. 

We know from Nielsen data that 70% of consumer decisions are made at shelf, but with an average person’s attention span now measured by Microsoft at only 8 seconds – have I still got your attention? – brands have a limited timeframe to establish a true emotional connection at that particular touchpoint.

And that is where we get to the home – often not considered, but with lots of potential for further brand engagement (in our humble opinion!). The home is:

  • a place where we are all spending an increasing amount of our time
  • a place where we interact and engage with packaging on a daily basis, and finally
  • a place where we need people to use our packaging for a product to be bought again! Just look in your cupboards or freezer this evening and see how long some of it has been there…

Here, we’ll suggest five ways that brands can harness this potential to build emotional engagement, drive repeat purchase and brand loyalty in the process.

1. Be bold. Be beautiful. Be display worthy.

We love to be surrounded by beautiful things and packaging is no different; it should be something you’re proud to display in your home. Dorset Cereals set the design standards for cereals back in 2006 and now every category has a brand that’s set the iconic design standards for others to follow. For example; Method’s cleaning products look more at home on a bathroom shelf rather than hidden under the sink, Bottlegreen’s iconic bottle shape and elegant design are often proudly displayed on a worktop rather than shoved in a cupboard, and Napolina’s pared back design oozes quality and sophistication.  

Images from Instagram (@bottlegreendrinks and @method_uk, courtesy of Cotswold Cottage)


2. Consider form and function.

One of the biggest challenges we see is the lack of joined up thinking between packaging format and function. So, stock cubes are messy, cereal runs out without us knowing and pasta bags split and go everywhere. We have the ability to solve these problems using simple format changes - think fridge packs to stop rolling cans, the Lurpak Butter Box to retain freshness and stock in cans from Potts. Even simple windows in the packaging to show us when we’re running low can be really helpful. Pack format has a big role to play here but is often forgotten about.

Image courtesy of Lurpak


3. Give packaging a secondary purpose.

In a world where sustainability plays such an important role in our lives, many brands are quite rightly turning their backs on single-use plastics and equally looking for ways to extend the shelf-life of their packaging. For years Gu and Nutella have been shining examples of how to reuse packaging in the home – I know I have a random collection of ramekins and glasses in my cupboard – but brands are now actively seeking out ways to inspire us to get creative. For example, yoghurt brand La Fermière have a page on their website showcasing consumers’ creations from their terracotta pots.

4. Think beyond pack.

Too few brands join the dots and think beyond the surface brand identity and packaging design. Brands that include games and entertainment within the packaging, such as Bear Yoyo’s collectible cards, provide a brand world for us (or our kids – thank you!) to play within.

For us adults, QR codes can be used to drive online and social engagement. A few years ago, KitKat teamed up with Google to deliver comedy, music and video content to watch while having a break, something that was a great fit for the brand.

And last year, Pepsi used QR codes to unlock filters and stickers as part of their summer campaign, which could be used to tag the brand in our Instagram stories. 

Images from Instagram (@bearnibbles)


5. Encourage expandable consumption

When shopping, many of us have certain preconceptions of a brand and the occasions it’s for or needs it fulfils. We worked with Horlicks to reposition it from ‘sleep’ to a ‘relaxing, soothing anytime drink’, suggesting a moment of emotional escapism on pack. Frubes is another good example where the packaging suggests freezing them to make great ice pops for kids too.

And, during our work in the oils category with new brand U:ME, we discovered a clear gap in the market to de-mystify usage, providing guidance and no-nonsense short cuts for use on pack. By highlighting front and centre which oil is best for roasting, frying, etc., not only is it helpful, but it also encourages us to buy other oils suitable for different purposes.

So, there you have it. Packaging is both an art and a science; brands stopping at purely expressing their brand identity on-shelf isn’t enough. They need to work functionally and make it easy for us as consumers to use and re-buy. But equally importantly, they must ensure they’re worthy of a place in our homes.