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Consumer loyalty is the key to repeat sales and structural packaging can influence the decision to purchase a product over and over.

Structural packaging that makes the consumer feel good, enhances the product usability and/or is easy to store will go a long way with consumers. Conversely products contained in packages that are hard to manage, bad for the environment, clunky or difficult to store will encourage your consumer to reconsider.

We have all had the experience of wasting product because you couldn’t reach corner of the jar or half the sauce being stuck in the bottom of the bottle. Who really WANTS to buy fruit wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam tray. Likewise the choice between a resealable bag of cheese or getting out the plastic wrap to reseal, is a no brainer. Many brands are using amber recycled plastic bottles to leave the consumer with the belief that the brand is environmentally sound – think ‘Thank-you’ body care and ‘Organic Choice’ cleaning range. How many times have you kept a bottle, jar or box to reuse it? True, it is on trend to repurpose product packaging and there are endless opportunities to do so in the home and workplace.

The way your customer feels about your brand – and the product packaging can impact on sales.

There are opportunities to create customer loyalty with structural packaging in many formats. A good place to start is right next door – with your biggest competitor. Look around at the big brands and consider why they have that particular container, jar, box, pouch, sachet, bottle, label or labels. The decision is usually not made adhoc, more often than not they have come to this packaging format after much trial and error. They have usually spent many years and $$ deciding on the structural packaging they have now. These are the key considerations that should never be overlooked…


Structural Packaging: 8 Top Tips

TIP #1:
The cost per unit – of course, this is a primary concern.

TIP #2:
Regular and consistent availability – many times the unique pack options are only reordered sporadically by the supplier.

TIP #3:
How are the products be transported? Think about the weight the packaging will add and the impact on cost.

TIP #4:
What size packs will you offer? Often a good strategy is to offer a regular retail size and a larger ‘value’ size.

TIP #5:
Test the strength of the structure – several times clients have sent me products in the mail and they arrived cracked, dinted or even glass neck broken in half and liquid spilled through the bag. Testing product packaging with lots of scenarios will save you money in the long run.

TIP #6:
What is the standard shelf height for your retailers? Ensure the size is not too tall for regular shelf heights – when this occurs the product is promptly placed somewhere it will fit and be forgotten – outside the category and hard to find.

TIP #7: Pay attention to the closure – it may add value (real or perceived), increase the tamper proofing or even increase the strength of the package overall. Some closures are deal breakers for consumers – think a pourer for oil, zip lock pouch or a can of tomatoes with a pull top opener.

TIP #8:
Another issue is whether the structural product packaging is recyclable and if so, what level of true recycling? We all know plastic is this centuries most shameful invention and although it makes life convenient, it is having a detrimental impact on our environment.

Don’t confuse the general recycling symbol with the plastic recycle triangle symbol that has a Plastic Identification Code (between 1 and 7). This code identifies the TYPE of plastic the packaging is made from – the general symbol indicates IF it can be recycled. Growing guilt amongst the general population is something to take seriously and turn into a positive with a good choice. My advice is to use both, space permitting. As a environmentally concerned producer you may even remind consumers to ‘remove lid before placing in recycling bin’ with the little man symbol below.


Symbols 2, 4, and 5, contain plastics that are considered to be safest for human and animal consumption. Avoid recycling symbols 3, 6, and 7. While Number 1 is considered safe, it is also best to avoid this plastic.

In addition, Planet Ark is working with some of Australia’s leading businesses to reduce confusion about recycling: The Australian Recycling Label (ARL). The ARL has been created for brand owners to confidently label their products to assist their customers to dispose of the product correctly and efficiently.


Before ordering always ask these six super important questions: 

– Is this bottle/jar/pouch ever out of stock?
– Are there any large companies using this item? ‘Yes’ is good news.
– Is this packaging classed as ‘food safe/grade’? Not just aesthetically pleasing.
– What level of recycling is it?
– What closure options do you have?
– What are the manufacturer label application guidelines?

Even when unaware, customers can be influenced by look, feel, size, texture and perceived value of structural packaging. Sometimes trends and unique/beautiful shapes can influence their choice. Be sure to not get carried away with the look of the structural packaging and choose for longevity, availability and making a connection with the consumer. For more about creating a brand with a that connect check out my article on creating a Brand Story.

Remember the functionality and aesthetics of the structural packaging should be considered in this order.

Once you have a clear direction for the structural packaging you will need an awesome design and a great place to begin is with this post I wrote called Is Your Silent Salesman (Packaging Design) Effective?


Finding the right supplier for your brand, one that won’t let you down or rip you off, is crucial. Consistently providing products to your retailers is key too. These are products and contacts I personally recommend, with environmentally friendly options.
After 23 years designing packaging for every type of material conceivable (from steel, aluminium, plastic, shrink sleeve, film, box board to paper, metallic and synthetic labels) I have built up quite a lot of contacts and are well aware of the suppliers that are the best and worst.
Download my free Packaging Suppliers Guide today! 
Lastly, if you enjoyed this article you may also like to check out Label Design Checklist – 9 Essential Tips‘.


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