User-centered package design is key to a successful packaging strategy

In today’s packaging industry, more and more emphasis is put on users and consumers and how packages resonate with them. After all, their actions influence what kinds of products and packages are desired in the markets and, thus, make profit.

A user-centric approach is an essential factor in package design. It aims to design packages that consumers find pleasant and appealing in every way. Packaging needs to resonate with the consumer in a number of ways during the purchase process while also communicating the product and its benefits. The user interface of the packaging also affects the user experience – even though users usually do not acknowledge it.

At its best, a user-centered package helps the consumer to use the product in every stage of the product life cycle. Still, the importance of user experience is something the packaging industry sometimes finds difficult to comprehend. The main focus seems to be in designing effective packages for the packer rather than the consumer.

In addition to user experience, companies are starting to acknowledge another major global trend: sustainability. Sustainable packaging is nowadays almost a necessity to new brands.

A growing number of consumers demand ecological packaging solutions, and that has also driven many large-scale enterprises to search for more sustainable solutions. The ecological approach has resulted in innovations like Lemtapes’ Eco Tape and Pure Tape, which have arisen from the goal to reduce plastic usage.

Sustainability and user experience were applied to the package production process in Aalto University’s Pack-Age course, where Lemtapes challenged students to design a better and more ecological bag-in-box (BiB) wine package.

The project was a success.

Interested in an easy opening packaging solution?

Demonstrating the easy-open functionality of Lemtapes Bag In Box.

User-centered packages communicate brand values

Package is the key medium for many products. It is also the only medium that is present when the purchase decision is made. Even in our homes, we share everyday life with packages and their messages. Packaging also has the best return on investment (ROI) of all medias but that is not often acknowledged or fully utilized.

Packaging both supports and helps build the brand while communicating a range of its values to consumers. It affects the way consumers see and think about the product, brand and company.

Even beautiful and appealing packages can result in irritated consumers if they are difficult to open, close, use and recycle. A poorly considered and designed user experience will fail to earn a second purchase. This is not a sustainable branding and packaging strategy.

A better strategy is to explore the ways in which user-centered packaging design can add value to the consumer at every stage, from the moment it is noticed to the moment it is discarded, and what design solutions can make it better.

Markus Joutsela, Senior University Lecturer and Design Researcher at Aalto University

Read more: Frustration-free unboxing experiences and sustainable packaging for e-commerce (free UX checklist)