There used to be a time when products came wrapped in ordinary packaging that prominently displayed the brand name, the main attributes of the product, the company’s logo, and its place of business. Packaging came in small, medium, and large sizes without much variation in the material, shape, and purpose of the packaging. That is a time long gone.
Now, packaging can even be more important than the product itself, if done imaginatively. One example is the entrepreneur who took ordinary rocks from riverbeds and packaged them as “pet rocks.”
Today, packaging serves several important purposes, which elevate it to one of the seven Ps of marketing.
First, packaging identifies the product, describes its features and benefits, and complies with government rules on specifying its contents, weight, chemical composition, and potency. Packaging provides easy brand identification for the consumers.
Second, packaging differentiates the product from its competitors and even from its other brand offerings. For example, liquor brands differentiate their premium scotch and brandy offerings by packaging them in ceramic bottles.
Third, packaging lengthens the lifespan, physically protects, and extends the usefulness of the product. Vacuum-packed or aseptically packaged products prolong the shelf lives of many food and beverage items. High-tech packaging protects fragile and sensitive products like crystal sculptures, laptops, precision tools, and the like.
Fourth, packaging has become an environmental issue by itself. Many packages are discarded after the contents have been taken out. This generates waste and poses environmental hazards. Recyclability and biodegradability are now a major concern of packagers and consumers alike.
Fifth, the aforementioned purposes of packaging have increased the cost of packaging and, therefore, the price of the product. To counteract this, the packaging must possess its own value proposition for the customers as well as for the enterprise. For the customers, they may put some premium on environment-friendly packaging. Customers may even be able to convert the packaging into money if the packaging were exchangeable for cash. Some packaging are so beautiful, they can create their own value as collectibles.
Packaging does not refer only to the wrapper or container of the product. It can mean the bundle of products or services that are put together to attract and delight customers. It can also mean the terms and conditions attached to the sale or after-sale servicing of the product.