We were always taught not to judge a book by its cover, but packaging experts know that building a positive connotation and allure around a good is crucial to its marketability.  Companies take many factors into consideration when packaging their product: environmentally responsible, flawless presentation, exceptional quality/quantity, and cultural sensitivities.  Balancing the variables of material, size, imagery, color, and design is the challenge facing most firms.  And they only amplify as companies expand to the global marketplace.

The most recognizable industry that utilizes all resources necessary to build a brand around packaging is food & beverage.  Fundamentally influenced by unique cultural tastes, the perception and responsiveness of a particular product in any given country can vary tremendously.  Cadbury, a British chocolate maker, performed a study across various cultures to measure the receptiveness of a new purple wrapper they had designed.  As they believed, the British along with most Commonwealth nations perceived the color as luxurious and indulgent, conversely the Taiwanese saw the color as cheap.  After gauging the perceptions of particular cultural preferences, Cadbury redesigned their Taiwan wrapper.  This example shows how preliminary market research by companies is crucial for avoiding such international setbacks and financial losses.  Comprehending customer preferences is key, just as developing packaging and labeling strategies is to aiding firms to distinguish themselves from competitors.

Although it is a fairly new industry to specialize in, Michigan State University’s School of Packaging has become a leader in research endeavors.  A recent study by them shows that consumers are more likely to purchase products whose packages have a long shelf life, are easy to open, and are made from bio-based products.  Currently, the standardized method for packaging fruit is easy-to-store plastic tubs.  But a new, revolutionary concept in fruit packaging is a large and ridged container made from bio-based plastics.  Younger test subjects tended to choose the bio-based container while an older generation preferred the traditional plastic tubs, showing that age also plays a part in consumer decisions pertaining to food packaging.

Can packaging be tailed to every single target demographic?  Also, how often should packaging designs evolve?  In my opinion, a firm choosing to do this should proceed with caution for brand identity could be affected. What are your thoughts?

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