Can Shape Influence Packaging Success?

Posted on Aug 7, 2019 by

Recently I came across an intriguing package that gave me a moment of pause ­– candy packaging based on a pizza delivery box, reduced to hold a miniature size 5” candy-pizza. It struck me the degree to which packaging structure imprints preconceptions on us as consumers – how we subliminally learn to expect something from shapes, and ultimately the critical role package structure and shape play in connecting with us. Of course, we can go back to the textbook statement that packaging first and foremost is designed to contain and transfer a product safely to market – which is true. But what drives the development of successful consumer packaging shape stems from the psychology of shape – the meaning that a shape implants subliminally in the consumer’s mind.

Most packaging structure falls into one of three basic categories of geometric shape – the dimensional equivalent of a square or rectangle (box or cube), circle (cylinder or sphere) or triangle (pyramid) shape. Practicality and stability govern the use of any shape and its ability to ensure products remain on shelf, upright and with a principal display panel – or – to ensure products can be practically grouped for efficient and cost-effective shipment to their destination. Food packaging remains focused on product security, tamper-evident packaging, and the impact of structural material and reduction in packaging waste.

Within these principle shapes, you always have highly customized packaging shapes to stir consumer interest in differentiating products from their competition, recognizing that the more exotic and complex the package shape, the higher the cost. In short, there are limitless possibilities for structure from cubes to tubes to tubs as well as limitless combinations of package shapes, but most importantly – how will shape provide for brand design to be most advantageously presented when complete. Whatever the package shape, the choice to use a specific container should be a consistent reflection of and complement to your brand and marketing.

This takes me back to the motivation for this – the candy-pizza package. Regardless of the fact that the “pizza” style carton has been reduced and adapted to a candy package, within seconds of seeing the container it communicated pizza. The first response of virtually everyone who saw the package was – where did the mini pizza come from? Devoid of specific graphics the package unequivocally communicated pizza. It was that kind of instant almost visceral reaction that good packaging structure should evoke within consumers. In this case, the package die cut revealed what could be pizza prosciutto with a poached egg but in the form of gummy candy. I don’t know of many adults that would buy this product, but I guess that left to kids, this would be a popular choice. Candy and pizza, how could you go wrong? The carton sells it either way.

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