Struggling to Stand Out? The Pulling Power of Custom Packaging for Independent Businesses 


By Steve Brownett-Gale

Small businesses are more popular than ever in the eyes of consumers. A recent survey revealed 42 percent of people prefer independent companies due to their ‘unique products and services.’ 

But it’s an increasingly crowded marketplace, with an estimated 5.47 million small businesses available to shop from in the UK. So, how can independents stand out from the crowd and nudge shoppers to pick their products over the competition? 

Here, I discuss four ways in which custom packaging design can help achieve this goal… 

Enhance your brand identity and USP 

Custom packaging can help businesses enhance their brand identity and differentiate themselves from market competitors by visually demonstrating their USP. 

Establishing a strong brand image, in which both primary and secondary packaging plays a key role, is essential for independent organisations to stand out. It can draw the eye of the consumer and encourage them to physically explore the product or find out more about it online. 

Conveying brand identity via packaging means considering the shape, size, material and function of the outer and inner system. It also covers visual elements like typography, images, colour schemes and how key information is presented. 

Research supports this. 81 percent of consumers have tried a new product because the packaging caught their attention, and 63 percent have purchased a product again because of the appearance of its packaging. 

Packaging design can also solidify brand identity to boost consumer loyalty. For example, fragrance brand Jo Malone has become synonymous with its simplistic product packaging and cream and black brand colours, which have come to convey an image of luxury and quality. 

Increase the perceived value of your product 

Custom packaging has the power to encourage consumers to spend more and pick your product instead of a competitor’s. It can subtly convey luxury and quality, as premium packaging solutions are often associated with products of higher value (and appeal). 

A study found that 52 percent of consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by packaging design, so opting for high-quality and distinctive packaging will provide a product with a greater shelf presence. 

Solutions that look expensive often have simple designs, as complex packaging can look cluttered and can overwhelm consumers. 

Keeping luxury packaging sleek and stylish while still delivering a brand message will make a business memorable but will also increase its perceived value by consumers. 

Colour is also an important consideration, as specific shades can determine how a product can make consumers feel about it. 

Leading with brand elements like a signature colour or recognisable logo can help to let your product do the talking. 

This can provide businesses with greater pricing flexibility, as consumers are willing to pay a high price for products they deem high value. 

High-quality products alongside consistent consumer demand can in turn help businesses to justify a higher price point, which can ultimately increase revenue. 

These factors can give businesses a competitive edge over competitors, as brands that pay attention to the way products are packaged can see an increase of around 30 percent in consumer interest, which will provide a platform for a broader consumer base, pricing flexibility, and higher profit margins. 

Generate excitement around your product(s) 

Creative packaging solutions have the power to generate excitement and intrigue from consumers, both online and in stores. 

The influence of word-of-mouth and social shares shouldn’t be underestimated. 

In recent years a power shift has taken place and image-led social platforms like Instagram and TikTok are now some of the most valuable platforms to reach and sell to consumers. 

From the outset, packaging should be thought of as a marketing vehicle to be leveraged. When it comes to social media, consumers will only share and recommend a product if it will initiate a positive response from others. 

Aesthetics is the most likely reason why someone will post about your packaging design, increasing exposure and growing your customer base organically. 

Dual-use packaging designs, where a product’s packaging has an additional use or interactive element, are also a great way to generate excitement about your product. 

Great examples of this working well include Walker’s Tear ‘n’ Share crisp bag which can be folded down to form a bowl; Pizza Hut’s “Blockbuster Box” which came with a lens inserted into a perforated hole, allowing customers to project a film onto their wall at home from a smartphone; and Bee Bright honey which comes in a beeswax container that can be turned upside down when finished to reveal a candle wick. 

Promoting limited edition or seasonal packaging can also help to establish an emotional connection between a brand and customers and make the experience more memorable. 

Showcase your commitment to sustainability 

Packaging can also be a vehicle used to showcase and communicate a brand’s commitment to sustainability. 

This can be a significant selling point, with as many as 1 in 5 consumers stating they would no longer purchase from a retailer that did not use sustainable packaging. 60 percent of people are also likely to spend more on products that are packaged sustainably. 

When it comes to the carbon footprint of a product’s packaging, it’s judged on the whole life cycle, from manufacture to the rubbish (or recycling) bin.

From a sustainability perspective, there are many factors which dictate whether packaging is designed well or badly. For example, this can be judged on its size compared to its contents, its shape and how efficiently it can be transported, the materials it’s made from, how well it protects and delivers the product to the consumer, and what happens once it’s discarded. 

Every small business should base their packaging design on the product’s whole lifecycle. 

Sustainability certifications are also a clear indicator to customers that a business is invested in driving positive change. 

Include printed ecolabels like “100% natural”, “Vegan” and “100% recyclable” where appropriate and nudge customers to explore your shared eco-journey further by incorporating a scannable QR code.

About the Author

Author - SteveSteve Brownett-Gale is a marketing professional with a career spanning both communications and products in B2B and B2C markets across Manufacturing and Services sectors. In his role as Marketing Lead, Steve is responsible for positioning the company as a world-leading supplier of innovative packaging for the cosmetic, wellness and alternative health industries, as well as offering a unique and disruptive supply chain model. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.