Study Spotlight: “Where you say it matters: Why packages are a more believable source of product claims than advertisements”

A study by researchers at Florida State University and the University of Miami claim to have found a way to potentially make marketing claims seem more reliable. According to their paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, customers are more likely to perceive marketing claims as truthful when they’re made on the product’s packaging (as compared to in advertisements). Believability, they claim, increases with proximity to the product itself–since the packaging is by default closer to the product than an advertisement about it, it can ultimately be more effective in pushing sales.

The Florida researchers noted some key differences between packaging and advertisements that could potentially explain why a consumer would view a statement on a package as being more reliable. Most notably, in the United States food industry, health claims made on packaging are regulated with more vigor as compared to claims made in ads. Previous research speculates that “if consumers perceive this difference, then they may perceive food health claims made on packages as more credible than those featured in ads.” Partly because of this, the Florida study goes on to suggest that “consumers may believe that packages are meant to communicate objective information, such as usage instructions, whereas ads are meant to persuade consumers to select a specific brand.”

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To test their theory, the researchers completed a series of three related studies. In Study 1, the researchers exclusively evaluated claim-to-product proximity, positing that the closer a marketing claim was to the physical product, the more likely the consumer would be to buy it. Presenting a claim made on an ad right next to the packaging itself should make the ad’s credibility identical to that of the packaging claim. At the beginning of the study, participants were given $1, and told it was in appreciation of their time. After completing an hour-long series of unrelated tasks, their were unknowingly subjected to the real study: each subject was told on their way out by a research assistant that a product (“Kickers Energy Spray”) from a previous experiment was on sale for $1. They were then asked if they’d like to purchase the spray while being shown one of six different product displays:

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In order from top to bottom (and left to right):

    • An advertisement promoting the product
    • A different advertisement, also promoting the product
    • The product’s packaging
    • One of the advertisements accompanied by the product (without the package)
    • The other advertisement accompanied by the product (without the package)
    • The packaging accompanied by the product (without the package)

In line with the researchers’ predictions, participants who saw only the package were significantly more likely to purchase the product than those who saw only the ad (51% vs 10%). If the display included the actual product (regardless of whether it was accompanied by the ad or the package), the likelihood of purchase was equal, since the product itself was right next to the claim. The difference between the effectiveness of an advertisement with and without the product nearby was substantial–subjects were much more likely to purchase the product in the ad setting if the product was actually present. Overall, consumers were more inclined to buy the product when they saw the package, rather than the ad, and most inclined when the product itself was present.

What we can take out of this study is that, while companies can’t just go around putting any message they’d like on a product (the FDA would likely take issue with that), it may be time to reconsider striking some of the “wordy bits” off of packaging for the sake of a cleaner design. While good design is crucial for sales in pretty much any given scenario, striking a balance between artwork and on-package marketing may help to drive sales. It’s important to note that a campaign’s success is about more than just information–assume the consumer is able to glean at least the necessary information about a product from just a glance. After filling them in on anything else that may not be immediately obvious, the customer is left with a choice: to buy, or not to buy. This is where marketing comes in, because the goal from here on out is to ensure purchase. While advertising skepticism has been gradually increasing over time, an honest, unbiased, and informative call to action can push an unsure consumer to purchase. According to various studies, consumers tend to view unambiguous information, third party statements, and product comparisons favorably. Conversely, claims that seem in any way biased or misleading will drive sales in the opposite direction, so it’s important to be careful with wording.

The researchers went on to do two other studies further exploring claim-to-product proximity. Read the full paper, Where you say it matters: Why packages are a more believable source of product claims than advertisements, in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

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DuPont’s 2016 Awards for Packaging Innovation

For 28 years running, DuPont has rewarded excellence in the packaging industry with their annual Awards for Packaging Innovation. One of the world’s leading science and engineering companies, Dupont is responsible for the invention of nylon, Tyvek, and Kevlar, amongst others. Dedicated to tackling global challenges, the Packaging Innovation Awards specifically champion achievements across three categories: Responsible Packaging, Enhanced User Experience, and Technological Advancement.

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Up first as one recipient of DuPont’s Silver Award is Palladio Group’s PhutureMed™, in the Enhanced User Experience category. Chosen for ‘advancing patient safety,’ PhutureMed™ is “designed to monitor the quality of medicines shipped to patients and improve medication adherence of patients to prescribed drug therapies.” Every time the package is accessed, an entry is added to the time log. The log serves as a reminder for whether or not the patient has taken their medication (and also discourages tampering). This information can be vital for doctors, allowing doctors to monitor their patient’s care more accurately. Also built in is a temperature monitor, which will alert the user if the medication has ever gone above or below a designated range–it even works without battery power!

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One winner in the Gold Award category for both Technological Advancement and Enhanced User Experience was PHD Skincare’s Never Miss a Spot Technology, an ‘extended wand sunscreen applicator.’ The wand allows for easy spraying of hard to reach areas, while maintaining a uniform mist at any angle–this enables users to get even coverage without assistance. The sprayer could also easily be adapted to other products, such as fertilizers and insecticides.

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Receiving the highest honor as the sole recipient of the Diamond Award was Graham Packaging’s ThermaSet® Blow Molded PET Container. It excels across all three categories: Responsible Packaging, Enhanced User Experience, and Technological Advancement. Various design manipulations allow for far better than average thermal stability and increased wall strength. The container is also lightweight and shatter resistant, 100% recyclable, and produces a lower than average carbon footprint during manufacturing. The narrow, taller build also cuts down on valuable shelf storage in retail displays.

More information on all finalists and winners can be found here.

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Pantone Color of the Year 2016

The following post was written by GTS Packaging Solutions’ Liz Wolfe, and is featured at gtspblog.wordpress.com.

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Pantone has just announced their 2016 Color of the Year, and for the first time since they started the practice in 2000, they’ve picked two colors: Rose Quartz and Serenity.

Last year, we noted that their 2015 choice ‘Marsala’ was an interesting one (pictured below on the left along with the colors from 2011-2014). Marsala’s deep, earthy tones are quite different from previous selections (which have all been rather lively).

past colors

It seems that Pantone is sticking with last year’s idea of shaking things up–while they are going back to their more colorful roots, Rose Quartz and Serenity are the first pastel colors they’ve selected since the early 2000’s.

Pantone’s Color of the Year isn’t just an arbitrary decision: in addition to being a huge name in the printing industry (thus inspiring next year’s trends), their selection is always inspired by current events. Rose Quartz and Serenity are meant to work together to soothe and balance viewers in a time of change and turbulence.

About their decision, they’ve said: “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”

Pantone also points out that “in many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.”

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Personalization: Why It’s Important for E-Commerce Packaging

It’s 2015, and retail e-commerce is doing better than ever. According to an estimate released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2014, total retail sales amounted to well over 4.5 trillion dollars, and retail e-commerce sales accounted for nearly 3 billion of that (approximately 6.3% over all). Between 2005 and 2013, e-commerce sales figures as part of a larger whole have nearly tripled (rising from 2.4%). We’ve seen a steady incline in both general and e-commerce retail sales—that trend will likey continue, as experts predict that “60% of U.S. retail sales will involve the web by 2017” (through either direct purchase or research purposes). With numbers that high, why does our e-commerce packaging still look like this?

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When a business has a storefront, it’s all about presentation. Workers are required to keep the site clean and operational at all times, and they must greet guests with a smile. Shelves are kept stocked and organized. Careful consideration is put into the look and feel of the store itself. Businesses understand that wowing their guests is good business. If what they are presented with is top of the line the whole way through, customers are more likely to come back.

Many business do bring their presentation beyond the storefront by spending thousands—or tens of thousands—of dollars on developing high class websites (web development is getting more affordable with the introduction of platforms that are designed to allow anyone to engineer their online presence, coding experience or not). Even if the customer is not physically present, steps can be taken to keep them coming back. A beautiful, easy to use site is a great start, but it doesn’t have to end there. Personalized e-commerce packaging is on the rise.

So why should a business bother doing this? If a customer is receiving a package, it’s clear they’ve already decided where they’d like to bring their business. Does it really matter how the package is presented? Technically, standard e-commerce packaging likely wouldn’t dissuade anyone from re-ordering from an online shop. They are used to seeing deliveries this way, after all. But fine tuning your presence from checkout to doorstep definitely won’t hurt.

Whenever I order something online, I’ll typically forget where it came from not long after,  unless it’s something branded. Even if custom packaging doesn’t work for you, the smallest acts can and will go a long way—for example, I’ve purchased several birthday presents from the artist Wednesday Wolf, who I haven’t forgotten about because he included a personalized message with my first order.

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For custom shipment packaging, look to a company like Loot Crate, “a monthly box of geek & gamer gear.” For a service like this, the unboxing is a big deal because the contents are a surprise. Having packaging like the above is a nice touch: pulling new loot out of a sleek, custom box is more exciting than ugly/standard shipping gear. I actually first found out about Loot Crate via Facebook when a friend posted a picture of his new crate, box and all. The packaging itself was clearly part of the excitement, and so it made it into the picture (while a normal box would have likely been discarded).

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There’s also Trunk Club, a service that matches clients with online personal stylists. They’ll build you a custom wardrobe, keeping in mind your style and preferences, and then ship it straight to your doorstep. The clothing is laid out nicely in the box upon arrival, and the exterior of the box itself looks great. Trunk Club also capitalizes on the custom note business—each crate contains a handwritten message from designer to recipient. Many clients not only return for more, but opt to work with the same stylist time after time because of the high level of personalization they’ve achieved (after all, over the years, stylists start to get a really great understanding of what their clients like and don’t like).

Like I said. Shipping presentation probably won’t dissuade anyone from re-ordering. They may just forget about you in the grand scheme of things. In an economy that will see a higher and higher prevalence in online ordering, personalization is the key to getting customers to remember why they decided to order from you in the first place.


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5 Popular Brands Re-Imagined by Students

This week, we’re spotlighting 5 popular brands re-imagined by students. From Epson Ink to Wonder Bread, their designs offer a fresh perspective to the classic products we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. First up:

1. Parker Brothers Board Games by Sam Kittinger

This design, which is also hosted on Lovely Package, “…stemmed from a desire to de-construct the overdone packaging board games nowadays are so known for. Drawing inspiration from vintage, modernist game box design, these re-inventions focus on simplistic imagery, experimental typography, and limited color schemes.”

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2. Wonder Bread by Marisol Escorza

This re-imagination of the popular brand is meant to capture a looks that caters to the European market.

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3. Sony Earbuds Cassette by Alyssa Phillips

One of the goals with this project was to give “…the now rarely used cassette a fun new purpose.”


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4. GE Energy Smart Light Bulb by Michelle Wang

The goal of this project “…was to reduce carbon footprint — finding a way to use the least amount of material while still offering protection…by using a single sheet of chip-board, no glue, and minimal ink.”

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5. Epson Ink Cartridge Packaging by Ali Prater

According to a comment on Lovely Package, Prater “…wanted them to have a clean and elegant disposition as well as a unique exterior, both of which distinctly separates them from their competition.”

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Packaging Design Trends: Speculation for 2015

Design trends in 2014 brought us many places. We saw high contrast designs, we saw lots of whitespace. We saw watercolor, and we saw a stronger focus on sustainability. With the turn of the new year, we’ll see new trends enter the scene, as well as the evolution of some of the older ones. With this in mind, we’d like to share with you our speculation for where the design for packaging industry will be headed in 2015.

With the recent rise of sustainable products and packaging, we’ll be seeing an even greater focus on this sort of design in the coming year. Sustainability is more than a trend; with the state of the environment, there has been an increasing urgency to minimize our impact on the planet. The packaging industry is beginning to respond to this need with more and more eco-friendly options to present to consumers. It’s to be expected, then, that we’ll be seeing more of the hand-drawn fonts that go along with a naturalist feel (this goes for logos and illustrations too). Think clean designs, subtle textures, and flat, grounding colors to suit an over all naturalist feel.

Altaz CF6 Stylus

We’ve talked before about awesome packaging designs, ones that are unique for their aesthetics or functionality (or, both). Some of these have taken interesting design a step further, capitalizing on the element of functionality and usability. Shirt packages that transform into hangers, boxes that turn into pen holders…while this sort of packaging may not be at the forefront of 2015 trends, we suspect we’ll be seeing some interesting multi-use designs this year. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

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Another small but growing market is augmented reality packaging. With the ever-increasing integration of electronics in everyday life, it’s only fitting technology would be brought into even the disposable parts of our products (or, if you’re going for sustainability or functionality, maybe the not-so-disposable parts). Regardless of the opinions of naysayers, technology isn’t going anywhere. Period. With the rise of augmented reality products such as Google Glass, we’re seeing this now more than ever (even if at its infancy stage, augmented reality devices are very, very dorky looking). With a rumored consumer release in 2015, Google Glass will open new doors for augmented reality packaging. It may make you look like a huge nerd (I happen to disagree with this sentiment, but I digress), but regardless, even if augmented reality takes on a different form than headwear in the coming years, it will still be prevalent, and packaging designers that have not learned to work with the medium already will have to catch up.

Pantone

Lastly, we’ve got Pantone. Pantone knows color. They’re the ones who standardize it worldwide, making sure that the conversation between designers, printers, companies, and consumers is an easy one, where everyone is on the same page. Part of their job includes keeping tabs on (and setting) industry trends. They not only know a whole lot about color, but also have a big say in the evolution of design practices. Annually, they pick the Color of the Year. This isn’t just a blind bag selection; their industry expertise, from analysis of past trends to predictions about future ones, is what helps them determine what this color will be. This year, they’ve gone with Marsala, an earthy, wine red. Marsala creates a nice dichotomy (did you know colors can do that?): for a shade of red, it’s remarkably cool. It’s seductive, but grounding. Rich, but subtle. Marsala “…enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability.” Expect to see more of this color in the coming year.

GTS Packaging Solutions Product Spotlight: Paper Tubes

GTS Packaging Solutions is a full service design and packaging company. We work in the design and manufacturing of all sorts of packages: bags, pouches, tins, boxes, novelty items, and more. We also work in many different industries–we started out with tea (at our sister company, Global Tea Solutions), but have since expanded our reach into health and beauty, fundraising, pharmaceuticals, jewelry, and more.

One of our packaging specialties is our paper tubes. They come in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of fill styles, lids, and closures. Our materials are also eco-friendly and sustainable, made from 100% recyclable materials. They’re perfect for storing food (so of course come with available options of foil or spray on linings). Many of our canisters have a smooth, matte finish that has been very popular with clients in the past. Another common style is a kraft finish (cardboard). They are also label ready. Full color printing options are available for matte, kraft, or labeled finishes.

Two examples of our tubes:

This is our divider tube, good for packing two varieties of a product in one container. The middle base of the lid has a wall built in that extents to the floor of the piece.

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We also have mini tubes (the lid fits snugly over top of the base). Great for smaller portions, gift packs, and samplers.

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So what does a finished product look like?

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