Packaging & User Experience

Keys to a memorable experience

We analyse the touch points of packaging with the end user to see new areas of opportunity and generate memorable experiences.

Over the last few years we have been able to observe a transformation of sales channels where the disruption of e-commerce has been key to the survival and growth of the vast majority of producers and distributors.

Online commerce generates new significant touch points with the end user that are consolidated as new areas of opportunity. These points are the key moments to build a solid relationship by generating memorable experiences.

This channel has also brought about new challenges in the distribution chain, giving rise to new spaces and situations in which not only the preservation of product quality and properties must be taken into account, but also strategic, up-to-date and controlled communication and brand presence must be achieved. However, we often witness companies missing important opportunities to build a strong relationship with their consumers by not understanding how this new shopping model impacts on the end customer's experience and expectations.

What are the moments of opportunity for brands to generate a lasting impact in the memory of customers? Undoubtedly, packaging is one of the main tools to generate meaningful communication and the more we focus the packaging strategy on the user, the more we will create loyalty.
The new moments of user interaction are before and at the end of the distribution chain.

Keys to designing a user-oriented packaging experience

If we put ourselves in the shoes of our customers throughout the distribution process, we will see that primary, secondary and tertiary packaging have a very importantrole to play in the experience and perception of both the product and the brand.

At Lúcid, investigating and rethinking the process from this perspective has taught us three key points:

  1. Content and content are one and the same unit for the end user: if the former disappoints, the perception of the latter is also affected.
  2. A damaged packaging is a damaged brand.
  3. When receiving and handling packaging, the user expects a moment of delight, which has to match the enjoyment of the product itself.

Packaging's 5 points of contact with the end user

1. Time of the purchase decision: packaging as added value

The web is the new point of sale and more and more companies are aware that the packaging that surrounds the product during this moment of presentation when the user has to make a decision can be a key value.

Showing the aesthetic, functional or even ethical qualities of the packaging of the product on the website is a resource of the online sales moment that users not only appreciate, but also increasingly demand.

Successful examples of this are brands such as Clare, which shows the entire delivery process of its pack of household paints together with its branded and functional packaging.

Clare Home Paints Packaging

Also the Vinebox wine packs, which take the form of a stage or stand for the product, or brands such as Branch Basics which, by separating the sale of content and container, attend to the new sustainable values of reusing and reducing the use of plastics.

Vinebox wine packaging
Branch Basics sustainable packaging for cleaning products

The packaging for the Lilly Jones handbag brand, developed by Lúcid, extols brand values such as surprise and uniqueness to give shape to a packaging inspired by pizza delivery, aligning with the expectations of fun, youth and freshness of its target audience.

Packaging for detachable bags by Lilly Jones

2. Timing of delivery: handling of the product

According to Business Insider, it takes people 7 seconds to make their first judgement about a product. As we have already mentioned, packaging is perceived as part of the product, therefore, when the product is delivered, we have 7 seconds to create a good impression, just through its packaging.

As users, we have all, to a greater or lesser extent, experienced the frustration and displeasure that packaging can generate at this crucial stage, receiving wet bags that are about to break, jars that have broken and damaged the rest of the order or broken boxes that prevent us from offering the product as a gift to someone we love.

Therefore, part of the mission of the company that sells online must be to make the moment of delivery logical, attractive and efficient so that this first handling by the end customer is not only not frustrating, but also a moment of enjoyment.
Damaged packaging
The best way to achieve the effect of delight is to conceive the packaging as part of the product or service itself, considering its handling as a journey, an experience, with its different phases and possible pain points or frustrations to avoid and its moments of delight or pleasure to highlight.

At Lúcid we have found that, to achieve a delightful effect at this stage, it is essential to start by addressing certain key questions about the end user:

  • Who makes the purchase and is it the same person who will enjoy the product?
  • Will the user consume the product immediately or prefer to store it?
  • Will you consume it at the place of delivery or move it to another location? Is the packaging suitable for one person to transport and handle?
  • If the brand were an experience and the product were packaging, what would it look like? Does this experience align with the brand's values and design guidelines? And with the product typology?

Considering the relevance of this moment, companies like Tuft & Needle have turned cumbersome experiences for the buyer, such as receiving and handling a mattress, into a pleasant and efficient experience. During user tests they observed that people, when receiving the product in their homes, were not able to handle and move an item as large and heavy as a mattress by themselves.

Therefore, they rethought their product and its packaging, making it more compact, adding handles to be able to handle it in a controlled and safe way, redefining their graphics to make their brand more recognisable and aligned with the values of the organisation and, of course, communicating its value on their website as part of the service and affection they want to offer their customers.

Tuft & Needle mattress packaging

3. Unboxing moment: the thrill of unboxing

One of the moments with the greatest impact and with the greatest boom on social networks is the moment of unboxing. According to data provided by Youtube, if we were to watch all the unboxing videos played during a year, we would spend more than 5,500 years watching videos in which buyers show the moment of unboxing the purchased product. This is a moment of enthusiasm, easily communicable and contagious, which is why the reproduction of unboxing videos increases by 150% at festive times such as Christmas.

The unboxing is a crucial experience in brand communication and therefore has to be designed in the same way that the product and service are designed, ensuring that this moment of communication with people is not muted and making it so special that they want to share it with others.

To do so, each brand has to reflect on what its message is and who its receiver is, what is the possible added value to offer at this moment, and what are the possible resources to transmit it.

Companies such as M.M.LaFleur, a high-end clothing and accessories brand defined by its attention to detail and personalised recommendations, has created packaging for the delivery of its products purchased online that is perfectly aligned with these brand values. The brand has thought of every detail, from the size and position of the shipping sticker, to the personalised messages that the user encounters as they pick up the items.

Unboxing of clothing and accessories packaging by M.M.LaFleur

Other brands such as Nike focus on the value proposition of their flagship products to elevate them to their maximum expression, such as the inflatable packaging of the legendary Nike Air model.

Inflatable packaging for Nike shoes

So we see the importance of selecting materials, defining volumes and designing unpacking experiences that reflect the brand, the company culture and meet or exceed shoppers' aspirations.

By focusing each of these areas on the user, we will achieve a clear and strategic communication that differentiates us from our competitors and allows us to build user loyalty through a close and meaningful relationship.

4. Time for disposal: packaging sustainability more important than ever

The discard phase of the package can be just as important as the previous phases in the user experience, especially now that shoppers, as they increase their e-commerce spending, are also becoming increasingly aware of the impact of increased packaging on our planet.

The selection of environmentally friendly materials, the reduction of the material used or the reduction of CO2 is no longer an option, but an obligation if you want to make a good impression on the consumer. New terms such as "ecoshame" or "green social status" are becoming increasingly popular. Therefore, there is no better way to be more sustainable (and appreciated) than well thought-out packaging, capable of communicating a company's efforts to be more sustainable, transparent and conscientious.

Sustainability in this phase of the user experience is interpreted from different perspectives depending on the type of company and is implemented gradually depending on the size of the company. There are many examples of how to take a step forward in the field of sustainability, such as promoting a second life for packaging. Examples include the Marmota brand, which makes it easy to turn its packaging into play spaces; Pangea Organics, whose biodegradable packaging can be planted, or Yves Behar's Clever Little Bag for Puma, which reduces the use of cardboard by 65% compared to previous packaging.

Plantable packaging for Pangea Organics soaps
Packaging for Puma shoes

Other large companies such as Asos, Zalando and Adidas have also started to test their return packaging services in order to achieve a truly circular packaging and service for their shipments.

5. Moment of recommendation: the review

92% of e-commerce consumers turn to reviews to decide whether or not to buy a product online and 94% of them decide not to buy a product if it has bad reviews. The relationship between the review and the packaging is that these reviews, especially when the experience has been disappointing, do not only focus on the product, but also on its packaging.

A bad experience with the packaging is a bad experience with the brand, worsening the perception of the brand 41% of the time if the packaging has been damaged or has arrived damaged. Therefore, it is essential to internalise that all packaging, whether primary, secondary or tertiary, is e-commerce packaging and the user will consider it to be part of the product, the service and the brand, as a whole.
Image of a bad review on damaged packaging

Some useful tips

At Lúcid we have learned that all packaging is e-commerce packaging and is the key to building a special relationship with customers. Therefore, we want to share with you the key questions we ask ourselves when starting any branding and packaging project:

  1. Do we know what is the experience of our users when they are informing and comparing on the web?
  2. Do we know the high and low points of their experience when they receive our products?
  3. When the user receives the package, do we manage to differentiate ourselves from our competitors?
  4. Have we identified how to connect and delight our end customers through packaging and unboxing?
  5. Does the material, size, opening method, use and time of disposal of our packaging reflect the values we want to convey with our brand and our products?
  6. How could we help users reduce their ecological footprint when ordering and consuming our products?
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