The Art of Plastic Packaging

Written by on October 8, 2013 in Technology - No comments | Print this page


plastic containersThe modern package designer must be an artist; considering his subject, canvass, and his beholder; a scientist considering theory and reason; and a technologist, with an eye on logistics and practical use.

Packaging used to be just a system of getting a product ready for transport, but it’s so much more today. Before the transport to market today’s packaging manufacturers must consider container design, warehousing, logistics, sales, and most importantly, how the physical package makes the user feel.

A client wants a container to hold his marvelous magic syrup, and the packager must not only consider how the bottle will fit into a user hand, but the safety of the container, and how the container protects and distributes the fluid it contains. The food storage container also controls portion control; how and how much magic syrup is portioned out when it’s sprayed, poured, or creamed.

How the product ships in bulk must also be considered, considering what shapes and sizes fill efficiently together in a 24 case shipping box.

Effective marketing is a major factor as well. How does the product look on the shelf? Does it stand confidently and project itself as THE product to meet the customers need? Shape, size, and labeling is critical in this process.

The Plastic era has been a revolutionary period for distributing and packaging, as moldable and flexible plastics have allow manufacturers to make containers in almost any shape or size, freeing all commercial industries from the restrictions of wood and glass.

And plastics are recyclable. They can returned to the manufacturer to reuse again and again, making packaging that much more ecofriendly.

Modern packaging is a modern science; considering what has to fit, and what is the best fit for preservation, storage, marketing, and consumer use.

Walk down a supermarket isle and consider the shapes and sizes of modern packaging today. Each bottle, jar, and sprayer is a lesson in design; incorporating geometry, psychology, practicality, and safety.

And what and how you buy during your shopping experience is the test of a good design and testing marketing campaign. Ask yourself how each product you see makes you feel, and then imagine all the work that has been poured into making you feel that way.

Somewhere, deep in the bowels of a research facility somewhere somebody is looking a container of maple syrup and asking themselves, “How can I make the consumer buy this?” So they begin a process of designing a food container for maple syrup that will call out “Buy me!” to the consumer from the shelf.

With the help of mathematical formulas, the researcher will know how big to make the container. Walking his assignment down the hall to the marketing psychology department will help him or her understand the mind of the consumer, design the shape of the container, and decide whether the potential buyer will like their syrup poured or sprayed. Then the syrup is thrust in the hands of the test group which surveys actual consumers for feel, touch and use tests.

On the way back to the lab to put the final touches on the design the researcher will probably be accosted by the Safety Expert, who may just send the entire design back to the drawing board, for restart or tweaking.

When the process is all done the researcher will hand the finished model to the syrup manufacture for approval.

The final packing of that syrup you see on the supermarket shelve could takes months or even years to accomplish, but remember and appreciate it’s all been done for you, to capture  your eye, your touch, and your dollar.

The package designer has worked long and hard to make sure the shape and the label, and sometimes even the smell, is going to all call out to your urgent need and buying impulse. In many ways the packaging is more important than the product inside. If you are not captured by what’s on the outside you won’t buy what’s on the inside, and you won’t use the product and comeback for more.

If you don’t respond by urgently grabbing the bottle, can, or sprayer off the shelf and throwing it into you basket, the designer has failed in his job, and you might miss the opportunity to experience a really great product.

Image courtesy of John Kasawa /


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