Packaging, It Challenges And Relevants In The Industry

One aspect of merchandising that is often over looked except by large manufacturers is packaging.  Many producers think that putting the product in a box that can be displayed on the shelf with colorful designs to attract the buyer eye is enough for it to sell. It may have worked before but not anymore.  Today, consumers are more discriminating and there are more choices to choose form in systems and materials, most designed specifically for certain product such as fruit.

Given the bewildering choices, mistake in packaging designs are quiet common place resulting in slow-moving products.

Below are some errors and suggestions to correct them.

-Misread Market niche:  The packaging design does not appeal to the intended market due to incorrect market research information product flop due to wrong packaging are quit common, appearing and disappearing without much fuss.  With a new research of correct design that rectified errors, a few products managed to stage a comeback and flourished.  It is a good idea to do an extensive market research when designing a packaging design especially if it is appealing to a worldwide market.  Simply designing the package can target the largest niche and design take off packaging for corollary markets.

  • Too small or too large package: for some products, single-serve packaging may work very well, but not for others.  Many manufactures adapt to the market by nothing which package size sell best and produce more of them.
  • Opening the package is too difficult: Nobody wants to struggle just to open a product package but nobody wants to have a tempered one either so a compromise between tamper-proof and easy- open (as well as other factors) package is in order for some, however, this will be a too-tall order and will settle for one end or the other.
  • Outdated packaging: In this fast-paced world it will be too much to take home from the store a huge package.  Most will prefer just packages that are of small size and easy to carry.
  • Additionally, many product manufactures are redesigning their packages to cater for present customer needs and preference, not only in foodstuffs but in many kinds of products like fruit juice.

Over decorating the package:  Key the design and the product information simple.

Sometimes too much product information can lessen the visual impact.  When people do not recognize your product in a glance they will precede to the next one on the shelf, product descriptions must be clear and easily readable to maximize visual recognition.  Product packaging errors are not limited to those above, however inasmuch as there are millions of products in the market.  These are just examples to give you an idea of the problems you face in packaging your products.

On the other hand, if your product sells satisfactorily, why bother?

You may have a great product, but it’s not flying off the shelf.  The following packaging problems might be turning sales away.

–           You don’t understand your market; there are so many new markets and retail outlets out there.  Don’t forget internet market too.  The question is, can one package service them all?   The answer is no.  There are features that work to your benefit in all types of packaging, but in general attributes that appeal to one customer won’t appeal to another.  What to do:  Define your niche attributes.  Is your product broad base?  Does it appeal to a special target audience?  Do you understand what this group is looking for in product packaging?

–           The packaging is too big or too small.

What to do:

Keep size in mind when designing your product packaging who is actually going to use this product and how is there a shelf life or consume by data that can impact the usage factor?

–           The package is too hard to open.  What to do:  Try testing with focus group outside the world of packaging.  Many times a person unfamiliar with packaging can identify a problem area that a packaging prods cant.  “Don’t think like a package designer.  Think like a consumer”.

–           The package is too generic – It is trying to be all things to all people and as a resort, it doesn’t appeal to anyone.  Have you ever been totally confused when looking at a product package?  What I am supposed to do with it? Or what’s the purpose?  This is a total turnoff.

What to do:  Tell people up front what’s inside, how to use it and what the benefits are. Simpler is better- especially when we are in a hurry.

–           People are confused by the packaging; more product alterations mean more confusion at retail.  Yes, I know brand managers are constantly creating new and improved versions, but get real!  How many new and improved products are really different from their predecessor?

–           The package doesn’t fit the retail outlet; there are myriad of cross marketing opportunities available.  What works in a club store certainly won’t work at a convenience outlet. Consider where your package will be merchandised.

What to do:

Ensure that you have the appropriate package size for the retail outlet.  Go to a store and see how people shop.  It could affect the products success.

–           The package isn’t contemporary- There are a lot of old brands that are repackaging their image.  Old brands have been revitalized with new and updated packaging.  Old brands can lose favor with the consumer simply because they look old.

What to do:

Keep on top of important trends.

–           The package is too gimmicky or doesn’t work; keep in mind, simple is better.  Products that get too complicated only appeal to a certain market segment, and its sooner not boomers, the largest share of the purchasing market.  The electronics industry seems to have lost track of this fact.  Make sure it doesn’t apply to your product.

Whatever the problem is, it can be corrected by understanding your target audience.  I earn what they want and need.  Make some adjustment and watch packages fly off the shelf.


Package development involves considerations for sustainability, environmental responsibility, and applicable environmental and recycling regulations. It may involve a life cycle assessment which considers the material and energy inputs and outputs to the package, the packaged product (contents), the packaging process, the logistics system, waste management, etc. It is necessary to know the relevant regulatory requirements for point of manufacture, sale, and use.

The traditional “three R’s” of reduce; reuse, and recycle are part of a waste hierarchy which may be considered in product and package development.

The waste hierarchy includes;

  • Prevention – Waste prevention is a primary goal. Packaging should be used only where needed. Proper packaging can also help prevent waste. Packaging plays an important part in preventing loss or damage to the packaged-product (contents). Usually, the energy content and material usage of the product being packaged are much greater than that of the package. A vital function of the package is to protect the product for its intended use: if the product is damaged or degraded, its entire energy and material content may be lost.
  • Minimization – (also “source reduction”) the mass and volume of packaging (per unit of contents) can be measured and used as one of the criteria to minimize during the package design process. Usually “reduced” packaging also helps minimize costs. Packaging engineers continue to work toward reduced packaging.
  • Reuse – The reuse of a package or component for other purposes is encouraged. Returnable packaging has long been useful (and economically viable) for closed loop logistics systems. Inspection, cleaning, repair and recoup rage are often needed. Some manufacturers re-use the packaging of the incoming parts for a product, either as packaging for the outgoing product or as part of the product itself.
  • Recycling – Recycling is the reprocessing of materials (pre- and post-consumer) into new products. Emphasis is focused on recycling the largest primary components of a package: steel, aluminum, papers, plastics, etc. Small components can be chosen which are not difficult to separate and do not contaminate recycling operations
  • Energy recovery – Waste-to-energy and Refuse-derived fuel in approved facilities are able to make use of the heat available from the packaging components.


The packaging component includes styles, features, packaging, labeling, trademarks, brand names, quality, price and all other aspect of product package Graham (1998 ). For the core component, the significant of these constituent in the eyes of the consumer depends on what product is to satisfy. Packaging component has to regularly undergo discretionary and mandatory changes. Constituents in the packaging components may incorporate symbols which conveys a non deliberate meaning and would have to be changed.



Many writers share different views in the types if packaging.  Three types of packaging as specified by Turkson ( 1997) include the following:

Primary package: Primary package refers to the immediate container or wrapper in which a product is carried.  For example, the milk container, the refresh (pineapple juice) container and the small box containing sticks of matches are examples of primary package.

Secondary package: secondary package also refers to the container or the wrapper which protects the primary package.  The wrapper containing well-packed boxes of matches, and the cartons containing bottles of beer are examples of secondary package.

Shipping package: is a type of package necessary for storage identification, and transportation.  Egg crate is a shipping package because it assists to transport eggs over a long distance with a minimum degree of risk of damage if properly handled.  Another example of shipping carriage is a rubber hose which transports water or other liquid products from one place to another.  Some primary packages are also shipping packages so far as they facilitate storage, identification and transportation

According to Turkson(1997), the above types of packaging are also referred to as the three levels of materials used to package a product.  However, other types of packaging include consumer packages, distribution packages, military packages, and industrial packages.


Every good package has the following features.

Protection and preservation: ability to offer protection from thieves, contamination, damage deterioration, due to weather, transporting etc.

Differentiation: ability to enable the product to be easily differentiated from others, for example, in terms of quality and producer.

Convenience in use: ability to offer convenience in the use of the product.  Packaging should enable the product to be used without difficulty.

Economy: it should enable low expenses to allow for competitive pricing.  The packaging should not make the product very expensive that people cannot buy.

Identification: it should be able to provide easy identification of the product to customers in order opt and package.

Portability: it should make it easy for the product to be carried from one place to another easily.

Re-use advantage: it should offer opportunity for re-use of the package Example, bottles, jars, containers, boxers, etc.

Proportion: there should be a relationship between the size, rice, and quality of the package product.

This means that, for a package to be classified as a good one, it has to contain the above factors.  As stated above, it is imperative that as manufacturers attempt to produce a good package, they also consider the resources they invest into the package development so that it will not result in the final product having a very high price which in the long run can lead to the product not being bought from the shelves for a long time even though it is identified by the consumers.


Most manufacturers of products normally have some intentions being the package they make for their products.  They always wish for the package to promote their products, protect and enhance it.  Packaging is very important to both the sellers of products and the almighty consumers.  It makes products more convenient to store, prevent spoilage or damages and also makes it easier to identify and promote the brand at the point of sale.

Other strategic importance of packaging according to Perrault Jr and McCarthy(1998)

Packaging can enhance the product: a new package can make an important difference in a new marketing strategy – by meeting customers’ needs better.  Sometimes a new package makes the product easier or safer to use.  For example, most drug and food products are now having special seals to prevent product tampering.

Packaging sends a message: packaging can tie the product to the rest of the marketing strategy. Packaging of energizer batteries features the pink bunny seen in attention-getting TV ads. Customers see the package in stores, when they are actually buying.

Packaging may lower distribution costs: better protective packaging is very important to manufacturers and wholesalers.  They sometimes have to pay the cost of goods damaged in shipment. Retailers need protective packaging too.  It can reduce storing   costs by cutting breakage, spoilage, and theft.   Good packages save space and are easier to handle and display.

Universal product codes speed handling:  to speed handling of fast-selling products, government and industry representatives have developed a universal product code that identifies each product with marks readable by electronic scanners.  A computer then matches each code to the product and its price.  These codes speed the checkout process and reduce the need to mark the price on every item.  They also reduce errors by cashiers and make it easy to control inventory and track sales of specific products.

The above mentioned strategic importance of packaging from William D. Perrault Jr. and E. Jerome McCarthy covers the functions of every good package. That is having the ability to promote the brand, protect it, and identify it and also to ensure that the brand is convenient to carry by the consumer. These functions of the package have led to the importance of packaging in today’s marketing environment.  Now every manufacturer wants his brand to out compete other competitors.  it is however important that coming out with a good package that have these functions, manufacturers also consider the cost of designing the package so that the price of the brand will not end up being too expensive to buy.  The manufacturer will work in vein if such a situation occurs, since, the product would not be bought.


A third benefit of packaging and labeling is the perception created in the consumers mind.  Just Born Inc… a candy manufacturer of such bands as Jolly Joes and Mikes and like Treats, discovered the importance of this component of packaging.  For many years the brands were sold in old-fashioned black and white packages, but when the packaging was changed to full-color, with animated grape and cherry characters, sales increased 25 percent.

A package can give the idea of status, economy, and product quality.  Procter and Gambles Original Pringles, with its unique cylindrical packaging, offers uniform chips, minimal breakage, freshness, better value for the money than flex-bag packages for chips.

In the past, the color of packaging was selected subjectively.  For example, the famous Campbells soap can was the inspiration if a company executive who killed Comell University’s red and white football uniform.  Today, there is greater recognition that colors affect consumer’s perceptions.

When the color of the can of Barrelhead Sugar-Free Root Beer changed to beige from blue, consumers said it tasted more like old-fashioned root beer.  R.A. Kerin et la (1996)


In addition to the functional purposes of packaging, there are three other aspects of packaging that marketers must consider.  According to Bovee and Thill ( 1992), page 267, they include the safety of the package, the packages environmental impact, and the cost of the package.

Safety:  improper and dangerous packaging materials can create a serious risk situation for manufacturers, intermediaries, and customers.  For example, high-value products such as computers are often encased in flammable packaging and then stockpiled in warehouses.  When Digital Equipment Corporation became aware that the company faced substantial risk from fire in its warehouses, it replaced the highly inflammable packaging materials.  This move avoided potential disaster and saved the company money on fire equipment and inventory insurance.  Another type of packaging that has caused concern is microwave-food wrappers that contain thin, metalized plastic-film strips.  These strips are used to enhance the cooking of certain foods, such as pizza.  However, the strips release chemicals that some health experts consider to be cancer-causing.  Fortunately, several companies are developing alternatives types of microwave packaging that do to expose consumer’s potential health hazards.

Environmental Impact:  as environmental concerns grow, new ways of packaging consumer goods are being developed and old packaging methods are being revived.  For example, a Canadian subsidiary of Du Point is selling a flexible pouch for milk that consumes much less space in landfills than existing consumers.  Old-fashioned cellophane is making a comeback because it is ore degradable than current plastic wrap.  And when Stephanie Glass wanted her new company to, Bio Pure, to be environmentally friendly, she had her shampoo and conditioners packaged in recyclable paperboard cartons.

Cost:  last but certainly not the least is the matter of packaging cost.  Although consumers want products packaged in a way that is sage for themselves and the environment, muster must consider whether consumers will pay for the added costs.  Some studies have found that consumers don’t mind paying more as long as he cost is within reason.  On the other hand, over packaging that is perceived as adding unnecessarily to a products cost can turn consumers off, especially for cosmetics, toys, sports items, and gifts.  Therefore, the challenge for markets is to provide packaging that meets the wants and needs of the producer, the consumer, and the intermediaries without jeopardizing company’s profit.


Packaging is now seen as a vital communication tool and as a major component of a market strategy.  A perfect packaging for a product enhances its ability to be identified in the market very quickly.

For already existing brands, the manufacturer’s task is only to conduct a re-evaluation of the packages from time to time.  When producing convenient products. It is vital for manufacturers to see packaging as a strategic tool.

Secondary use package is one which can be re-used after the actual product content is used.  This strategy by most manufacturers is used to reduce the pollution of the environment with used packages.  For instance, Voltics water bottles are used in various household to store water in refrigerators.

Multiple packaging is also another strategy used by manufacturers of products in the market.  Here, the manufacturer put several units in one container.  For instance, Guinness Ghana Limited has packages (crates) which contain all their bottles.  Multiple packaging is used by manufacturers to increase the consumer’s acceptance of the product by encouraging them to try the product several times.  Manufacturers may however, choose to employ the twin packs, ten packs, or other forms of multiple packaging.

Another strategy is family packaging.  Here, the manufacturer makes the entire package identical for a product using some common features on the entire package.  This strategy is at times used for product lines of a particular manufacturer.  This means that when new products are included to the product lines, promotional values associated with the old products extend to the new ones.  However, it is prudent to this strategy when the products are related in use and  similar in quality.

The recent completion in the market means that manufacturers should apply unique design to differentiate their product from that of competitors.  In practicality, innovative packaging requires that manufacturers to invest huge amount of resources not only in the package design but also in making consumers aware of the package its benefits.  Because package designs are now improving, it is complicated for any manufacturer to make his product unique or dominant over other; hence, it is better for them to attempt to gain a competitive edge through packaging.


Packaging is in the public eye today, largely because of the environmental pollution issues associated with packaging.  Michael J. E. et al (1993) specifies the below for the criticisms of packaging.

Packaging that depicts natural resources: This problem is magnified by firms that prefer larger-than-necessary containers.  This criticism has been partially addressed through the use of recycled materials in the packaging.  A point in favor of packaging is that it minimizes spoilage, thereby reducing a different type of resources waste.

Forms of packaging that are health hazards: Government regulations banned several suspect packaging materials, notably aerosol cans that used chlorofluorocarbons as propellants.  Just as important, a growing number of companies are switching from aerosol to pump dispensers.

Disposal of used packages: Consumers desire for convenience in the form of throw-away containers conflict with their stated desire for a clean environment.  Some discarded packages wind up as litter, others add to solid waste in the landfills.  This problem can be eased by using biodegradable materials in packaging.

Deceptive packaging: a common problem is that the package size conveys the impression of containing more than the actual contents.  Government regulations plus greater integrity on the part of business firms regarding packaging have alleviated this concern to some extent.

Expensive packaging:  Even in seemingly simple packaging, such as for soft drinks, as much as one-half the production cost is for the container.  Still, effective packaging reduces transportation costs and spoilage losses.

The above are serious problem that every organization with an intention of surviving the recent rigorous and vigorous competition in the market should address.  However, in addressing these problems, they should also make sure that the positive features of packaging is retained and enhanced.


Perrault and  McCarthy(1998) provides the following issues and explanations to explain the question what is meant by socially responsible packaging.

Laws reduce confusion and clutter: In the United States, consumers criticism finally led to the passage of the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (of 1966) –  requires that consumer goods be clearly labeled in easy-to –understand terms – to give consumers more information.  The law also calls on industry to reduce the number of package sizes and make labels more useful.  Since then there have been further guidelines.  The most far-reaching are based on the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.  It requires food manufacturers to use a uniform format that allows consumers to compare the nutrition value of different products.

Current laws also offer more guidelines on environmental issues.  Some states require a consumer to pay a deposit on bottle and cans until they are returned.  These laws mean well, but they can cause problems.  Channels of distribution are usually set up to distribute products, not return empty packages.

Ethical decisions remain: Although various laws provide guidelines on many packaging issues, many areas still require marketing managers to make ethical choices.  For example, some firms have been criticized for designing packages that conceal a downsized product, giving consumers less for the money.  Similarly, some retailers designing packages and labels for their private – label product that look just like, and are easily confused with manufactured brands.  Are efforts such as these unethical, or are they simply an attempt to make packaging a more effective part of a marketing mix.  Different people will answer differently.

Empty packages now litter our streets, and some plastic packages will lie in a city dump for decades.  But some consumers like the convenience that accompanies these problems.  Is it unethical for a marketing manager to give consumers with different preferences a choice?  Some critics argue that it is; others praise firms that give consumers a choice.  Many critics feel that labeling information is too often incomplete or misleading.  But how far should a marketing manager go in putting potentially negative information on a package.  For example, should Haagen-Dazs affix a label that says “this product will clog your arteries?  That sounds extreme.  But what type of information is appropriate.

Unit-pricing is a possible help: some supermarkets, make it easier for consumers to compare packages with different weights or volumes.  They use unit-pricing – which involves placing the price per ounce (or some other standard measure) on or near the product.  This makes price comparison easier.


Many types of symbols for package labeling are nationally and internationally standardized. For consumer packaging, symbols exist for product certifications, trademarks, proof of purchase, etc. Some requirements and symbols exist to communicate aspects of consumer use and safety, for example the estimated sign that notes conformance to EU weights and measures accuracy regulations. Examples of environmental and recycling symbols include the recycling symbol, the resin identification code and the “Green Dot”.

Bar codes, Universal Product Codes, and RFID labels are common to allow automated information management in logistics and retailing. Country of Origin Labeling is often used.

Small parcel carriers often have their own formats. For example, United Parcel Service has a Maxi Code 2-D code for parcel tracking.

Shipments of hazardous materials or dangerous goods have special information and symbols (labels, placards, etc.) as required by UN, country, and specific carrier requirements. Two examples are below:

With transport packages, standardized symbols are also used to communicate handling needs. Some common ones are shown below:


All the above information immensely comments on the need for packaging of products by various authors and published books.

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