Everyone has experienced what Larry David went through just trying to open a product. Packaging can be its own worst enemy.

Take potato chips, for example. Why do potato chips come in a bag? Is a bag really going to protect a fragile potato chip? It’s always surprising to open a bag of chips and find anything other than crumbles. The truth is that the majority of companies design their packaging well after the product has been developed. In most cases, this leaves very little time for any true innovation. Pringles is an exception. A large part of Pringles’ success is due to the clever collaboration between their product and its package. If more companies devoted resources to packaging innovation, it could have a huge impact on a product’s success.

One example of a company that made a successful change is Kimberly-Clark. The design team was tasked with helping increase sales for the Kleenex brand of facial tissue. Their team discovered through research that their sales were declining because Generation Y users were using toilet paper instead of Kleenex facial tissue. The Generation Y users said that the current rectangle tissue boxes reminded them of their grandmother and did nothing for their sense of fashion and décor. The design team changed the outdated rectangle box to an oval shape with several different patterns, colors and designs. The change was only to the structure. The product inside was the exact same. First introduced as a holiday promotion, the new designs sold out and the demand from retailers increased. Kleenex was charging $2 more per oval box and sold 9 to 1 in all age groups.

Christina Mau – guest speaker for Print magazine’s Design with Relevancy; statistics from Roper’s May report.

One of the most important elements in packaging design can be the structure. There is an opportunity for home improvement companies to spend more development time on the structure of their packaging to give everyday items new appeal. Companies like Kimberly-Clark, Method and Dutch Boy Paint have already taken traditional products and placed them in non-traditional packaging to much success. One of the benefits of hiring a packaging design agency is their ability to think outside the box, to start with 2D art and create a tangible 3D package. The packaging structure can really help a product succeed or at least not upset the person who needs to open it.

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