Many importers take the time to define their product expectations and to get good pre-production samples from their Chinese suppliers, but completely forget to specify the type of product packaging required.
We classified this under “other considerations” in this series of articles on new product development.
What is the Purpose of Packaging?
Package design plays an important role in the sales and marketing aspects of the business, promoting the brand as well as the company and to some extent the pricing perception of your product (iPhone is a typical example of simple but elegant packaging).
From a mass consumer point of view, the increased importance placed on self-service marketing, the role of packaging is becoming quite significant. For example, in a typical supermarket a shopper passes about 600 items per minute or one item every tenth of a second. Thus, the only way to get some consumers to notice the product is through displays, shelf hangers, tear-off coupon blocks, other point-of-purchase devices, and, last but not least, effective packages. (Source: Boundless. “The Purposes of Packaging.” Boundless Marketing. Boundless, 03 Jul. 2014.)
Example of product packaging that shows sharp images and product information.
Common Uses of Product Packaging
- Physical protection: your product may need to be protected against various things such as mechanical shock, vibration, low temperature, high temperature, increased humidity. Remember, the trip from China to Rotterdam or to Los Angeles takes several weeks, and the products are loaded/unloaded several times along the way to the final store/warehouse.
- Provide information: packaging and labels provide key information about the product, what regulations the product meets, how to use the product, transportation guides, recycling and disposal instructions, and depending upon the product, you will need to provide information about what the product is produced from.
- Marketing: The package and labelling can be used to encourage potential buyers to purchase your product. Product graphic designs, actual photos of the product in use, and appealing images that all have the effect of marketing the product.
- Convenience: Packages can have features that add convenience in distribution, handling, stacking, display, sale, opening, reclosing, use, dispensing, reuse, recycling, and ease of disposal.
- Barrier protection: A barrier from oxygen, water vapor, dust, etc., is often required. Permeation is a critical factor in design. Some packages contain desiccants or oxygen absorbency to help extend shelf life. Modified atmospheres or controlled atmospheres are also maintained in some food packages. Keeping the contents clean, fresh, sterile and safe for the intended shelf life is a primary function.
- Security: Packaging can play an important role in reducing the security risks of shipment. Packages can be made with improved tamper resistance to deter tampering and also can have tamper-evident features to help indicate tampering. Packages can be engineered to help reduce the risks of package pilferage. We have often heard buyers complain that one or two cartons were open upon arrival from China and some products were missing.
(Source: Boundless. “The Purposes of Packaging.” Boundless Marketing. Boundless, 03 Jul. 2014.)
White Box Packaging
With an increase in online shopping, an e-commerce site has less need of branded packaging than a brick and mortar store where, as mentioned above, the importance of branded packaging is a crucial part of the product branding and selling techniques. An e-commerce site may not have any images of the product packaging, they would, however, include high-quality images of the product itself showing what it is, what it does and how to use it. Here is an example:
The image above shows a number of different high definition images and a video, none of which includes any packaging details. So from a marketing point of view, the information on the packaging is not required as all the details would be listed on the website page for this product.
In some cases, the use of plain white packaging may be used; this cuts down on the cost of packaging as no printing is required (you would still need some detail like a bar code and UPC code for identification purposes).
An example of white box packaging is shown below:
If the key function of your packaging is to protect your product then the box needs to be designed as such, bearing in mind every product has its own protection requirements. An example of packaging that has an inner section separating out each of the components is shown below; this product is an Energy Monitoring product that has a digital display and a number of clamps and wires and a data collection device. Each of these parts of the kit is protected within this style of protective packaging.
For a greater understanding of packaging and how to protect your shipment effectively, you can read an article I wrote some time back by following the link here. You may also like: Packaging Inspection Guideline: What Is Usually Checked?
Another consideration many importers struggle with is the user manual, which provides instructions on how to do or use your product. Wikihow has a nice tutorial that you can see here.
Go to part 17: Test Marketing before Producing a Large Batch in China
Are you designing, or developing a new product that will be manufactured in China?
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Susan Hirst says
I agree that packaging design plays and important role in sales and marketing. Like you said, packaging provides information, as well as physical protection. There is no denying the importance of packaging for consumer products.