Packaging Innovation
product selection process
May 22, 2015

The role of packaging in the product selection process

We all know that packaging serves the product in a number of ways. It isn’t just there to protect the goods in stores; it also helps sell the product by guiding the consumer with an invisible hand towards a purchase. So what is the role of packaging in the product selection process and how does it work in our everyday life?

First, let’s explore the decision-making process of consumers. In their ‘Theory of Buyer Behavior’ marketing professors John Howard and Jagdish Sheth distinguish three product types with their own decision-making process.

  • Extensive problem solving products: the consumer discovers a new product he or she doesn’t know anything about. There is no brand preference. In this case the purchase process is usually quite long. Expensive purchases such as a car or a house are usually extensive solving problem items, but more ‘mundane’ products like smartphones or tablets can fall in this category as well.
  • Limited problem solving products: the consumer has a clear vision of his or her expectations and already had an experience with the product. He is, however, still undecided about the brand. This situation is typically found for occasional purchases, such as clothing and cosmetics.
  • Routinized response behavior products: the everyday purchases the consumer knows well. He knows which brand to choose and which product suits him. The purchase decision is quick and simple.

Extensive problem solving products – product selection process

Here the manufacturer has to inform the consumer. The packaging, for instance, should clearly state the purpose of the product. Often, we find EPS-products that fail to inform the consumer. In that case, a purchase is nearly impossible.

Limited problem solving products – product selection process

For these products it’s important to highlight the competitive advantages and convince the consumer their products are exactly what he needs. Having not yet made the final choice regarding the brand to use, consumers will be sensitive to the packaging of the product. It’s a good idea to display the unique value proposition of the product on the box.

The product selection process for routinized response behavior products

Brands whose clients are in a routine purchase process need to anticipate that consumers may get bored of a product after a while. One key aspect of innovation is packaging. Every once in a while, brands should alter the packaging in order to keep things fresh, while at the same time they have to avoid alienating their loyal customer base.