Consider the Plastic Closure When Designing Great Packaging

“It’s the little things in life that make a big difference…”

Designing a new package for a product can be a lot of fun – so much fun that it might be easy to overlook some essential considerations before you can label it as a finished product. When it’s time to select a functional closure, don’t write it off as an easy task. There are lots of considerations: the budget, the company’s brand identity, the retailer’s needs and the consumers’ preferences – all in which can be time-consuming activities.

Start with Packaging Design Research

During the research phase, keep in mind the product and its potential promotional needs. User tests and focus groups – and your own experience as a consumer! – are great ways to find out what people want and how they intend to use a product. We all have different expectations for different types of of products; the plastic closure for household cleaners will be different from the caps on food items, pet food containers and personal care products, right?

It’s great to have an innovative feature, but if it is not user-friendly – or if your consumers are using it in an unintended way – maybe you should rethink the packaging. For example, say you have a flip top lid for salad dressing, but your focus group shows that people just unscrew the entire lid. That might mean that the orifice in the flip top lid is too small and maybe you need to change it.

Focus groups also provide insight into how consumers perceive your product on the shelf. Does it stand out from 10 feet away? From 25 feet? Is it appropriately sized for the shelf? Does it fit the retailers’ sustainability needs? What is its expected overall shelf-impact?

Pinpoint the Functional Closure Design Requirements

Your research will help you as you begin to identify a plastic closure's function requirements. The product’s package serves three major functions:

  • Safely contains the product
  • Communicates the product’s brand messages
  • Ensures ease of access for the consumer

The closure is an important part of package design so keep in mind different ways the product will be used and who will be using it. Does it require a seal? How easy is it to open and close? Is it important that it be child-proof? How much control do you need to dispense the product? Of course, you have to balance those requirements with the retailer's requirements, regulatory issues, etc. 

Identify the Defining Moments

In a Fast Company article, experts at Proctor & Gamble discussed the first and second moments of truth – those defining moments of a consumer’s interaction with a product. The first moment is the equivalent of “curb appeal” and is the first reaction. What is it about the package design that draws the consumer to the shelf? If the consumer buys, it’s a win! If not… Beyond shelf impact is the next step: the consumer’s actual experience using the product. Each use shapes the consumer’s opinion of the product – and the brand. "There are so many little things that can be so much better," says P&G CEO Alan G. Lafley in the Fast Company article. "The consumer can articulate what she doesn't like about [a product] sometimes, but she can almost never articulate what you need to do to remove the dissatisfier or to create delight. That's what we have to work on." And that's why package designers use focus groups and user studies during the research phase!

The closure is the first way consumers will react to your product – and your package. Don’t forget that the details matter. 

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Posted by Gabrena Grewal