The Consumer Psychology of Product Packaging Shape, Style, and Label

Product Packaging

Consumer psychology can seem a devious science when pursued as an academic science. But without the market forces fueling many scientific pursuits, we wouldn't enjoy many of the conveniences civilizations tend to take for granted today. 

Getting that out of the way, let's have a look at a few recent popular studies shedding insight into human psychology and product packaging as it relates to sales.

The Crossroads of Product Packaging and Self Identity

Do you know that when it comes to indulgent treats like candies and chocolates, small packages trump regular-sized ones: marketing-wise?

People tend to eat more of the treats when the sweets were placed in small packages. This was according to the results of a University of Alberta study, which appeared in an issue of the Journal of Marketing.

As an online seller, you likely are not selling goods with expiration dates on your site.

So what can you take away from this?

The takeaways, other than becoming aware that nearly every subtle cue matters in upping sales conversions, are that packaging and presentation are much more important than would meet the eye, along with, an appreciation of the science that proves what many seller intuitively know. 

How Consumer Brands Standout with Product Packaging [Video]

When your target customers are body, weight, and appearance conscious then design your product packaging in such a way that the product specification appears on the front and the packaging material is either transparent or translucent.

Compared to average consumers, body, weight, and appearance conscious people demonstrate a strong propensity for consuming foods when they can see the edible products through the packaging and when they are greeted by labeling on the front that touts the product being low in calories.

​​Related: How to Choose the Right Product Packaging

According to the University of Alberta researchers, Jennifer Argo and Katherine White, body, weight, and appearance conscious consumers are easily swayed by packaging cues such as product visibility and prominent calorie information--which both create a "false sense of belief" that the food product supports their weight-management endeavor. 

Relative Size and Perception in Packaging

Meanwhile, a paper that appeared in an issue of the International Journal of Management Practice and was authored by Lawrence Garber (Elon University in North Carolina), Eva Hyatt (Appalachian State University), and Ünal Boya (Appalachian State University) detailed how consumers perceive product packaging sizes based on the number of displayed product packages

The natural tendency of an average shopper is to pick the "larger" product among its equal-volume counterparts. You can take advantage of this consumer inclination by skewing how product volumes are skewed with respect to the number of products being presented. 

According to the study, product packages with simple shapes seem larger than those with complex shapes when nine or more of such products are shown.

The opposite effect happens when the display consists of eight or fewer products. For complicated packaging shapes presented in groups of eight or fewer, their sizes seem to dwarf those of simple packaging shapes. This should help you in arranging products on your e-commerce store's product pages.

Consumer Psychology and Buying Behavior [Video]

It All Comes Down to Influence

Sales and marketing the engines that drive all other parts of your business.

So, when designing your product packaging it may be worth keeping in mind Cialdini's famous tools of influence and how you can incorporate as many of these tools into your product's packaging. 

See the video below to learn the key tools of persuasion.

Wrapping Up

What these studies and video presentations show is the subtle art of influence, affecting the choices made, i.e. the buying decisions of customers, by packaging products in way your customer can relate to: be that on a conscious level, like identity, or a more unconscious emotional appeal.

People buy for reasons deeper than the obvious; thus, it's worth it to study how consumers make their choices and how that can inform your product's sales and marketing to improve your bottom line.

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Kais Khadhraoui
Kais Khadhraoui
I'm the CEO & Founder at Fulfillment Bridge. I spent more than 12 years providing cutting edge financial solutions to global banks and stock exchanges and running successfully Multimillions projects at global scale. I decided 8 years ago to start my entrepreneurial adventure in the eCommerce industry. I discovered similarities in both fields which made it easier for me to provide high quality eCommerce related services inspired from the Fintech world. My ultimate goal is to create a leading eCommerce solution following the high standards adopted in the financial industry. When you are looking to take your ecommerce to the next level and partner with a logistics provider that specializes in global ecommerce solutions, you can get in touch with me on LinkedIn.