The Magic of Packaging: How It Makes You Buy!

The Magic of Packaging: How It Makes You Buy!

Think of a product's packaging like a book cover – it's the first thing you see, and it sets the tone for what's inside.

Ever wondered why you pick up that bag of crisps with the snazzy, colourful design or the sleek shampoo bottle? It's not just because they look cool, it's because of something called packaging psychology! In this article, we'll dive into the fascinating world of packaging design and how it can make you reach for your wallet or purse.

Think of a product's packaging like a book cover – it's the first thing you see, and it sets the tone for what's inside. Just like a book cover, packaging can tell you a lot about what's waiting for you inside that box, bottle, or bag. And in today's busy world, where we often have to make quick decisions, packaging plays a huge role in our choices.

Colours Speak Louder Than Words

Colours are like the superheroes of the packaging world. They can make you feel happy, calm, excited, or even hungry. Have you noticed how some packages use bright reds and oranges to make you crave their snacks? Or how cool blues and greens make you think of freshness and health? It's all about tapping into our feelings and emotions.

  • Red: It's like a bullseye for your brain! Red packaging can trigger excitement and hunger. That's why you often see it on fast-food packages or candy.
  • Blue: The colour of calm and trust. Blue packaging is often used for products that want to make you feel safe and confident, like toothpaste and cleaning supplies.
  • Green: Nature's favourite. Green packaging is all about health and eco-friendliness, which makes it perfect for organic foods and natural products.
  • Yellow: The sunshine colour. Yellow packaging is used to make you feel happy and warm, often seen on snacks and desserts.

Shapes: More Than Meets the Eye

Okay, so colours are a big deal, but shapes are important too. Different shapes can evoke different feelings and associations. For example:

  • Circles: They feel comforting and friendly. You'll find circular packaging on products like cookies or ice cream to make you feel at ease.
  • Triangles: Sharp and dynamic. Triangular packages are often used for energy drinks or sports products to give you a sense of action and energy.
  • Squares and rectangles: These shapes are solid and dependable. Think about cereal boxes or smartphone packages – they're all about reliability.
  • Curves and Swooshes: These give a feeling of movement and grace. You might see these on beauty and wellness products to make you feel more elegant and beautiful.

Pictures That Tell a Story

Now, we come to the pictures and graphics on the packaging. Have you ever seen a product that shows a picture of a juicy, mouth-watering burger, and suddenly your tummy rumbles? That's because our brains love visuals, and they can trigger our senses. Pictures of delicious food or happy people using a product can make us imagine what it would be like to have it.

Not just that, pictures can also tell a story. Let's say a chocolate bar shows a picture of a farmer harvesting cocoa beans under a sunny sky. It makes you feel connected to the source, and it might make you think the product is more authentic and natural.

Words Matter Too

Ever noticed how some packages have words like "new," "improved," or "limited edition"? These words create a sense of urgency and excitement. It's like a little nudge telling you to pick up the product before it's gone.

Also, words can tell you about the product's benefits. If a bottle of shampoo says "nourishing" or "strengthens hair," it's trying to tell you that it's good for your locks. We like to know what we're getting, and those little descriptions can make a big difference.

Size Does Matter

Size matters, not just in chocolates! The size of the package can influence our choices too. When we see a big bag of crisps, it might make us think we're getting a great deal, even if we don't need that many crisps. On the other hand, small packages can make us think a product is special or luxurious. It's all about perception.

Practicality Matters

Beyond the colours, shapes, pictures, and words, packaging also has to be practical. Imagine if your favourite snacks came in a flimsy bag that easily ripped open. You wouldn't be too happy, would you? Good packaging not only looks good but also keeps the product safe and fresh. It's like a superhero outfit that does its job while looking cool.

The Power of Familiarity

Have you ever noticed that you tend to buy the same brand of toothpaste or crisps over and over? That's because we humans are creatures of habit. We like things we're familiar with because they feel safe and reliable. Packaging plays a big role in creating that familiarity. When you see that same logo and design on the shelf, it's like saying, "Hey, remember me? I'm the one you like!" It can make you grab that product without even thinking.

Why Packaging Matters to Brand Owners and Retailers

Now that we've explored how packaging affects your choices, let's talk about why this is such a big deal for brand owners and retailers. In a world full of choices, standing out on the shelf is a challenge. Good packaging can be a game-changer, and here's why:

  • Differentiation: It's a fancy word that means standing out in a crowd. When you're a brand owner, you want your product to be the one that catches shoppers' eyes. Clever packaging can make your product unique, and people will remember it.
  • Brand Identity: The package is like the face of a brand. A well-designed package can create a strong brand identity that sticks in people's minds. When you see a package, you might instantly know which brand it belongs to.
  • Emotional Connection: Packaging can create an emotional connection with the consumers. When they feel good about your product, they're more likely to buy it again and again. This loyalty is golden for brand owners.
  • Storytelling: Packaging is a way to tell a story about your product. You can convey what makes your product special, why it's better, or how it fits into a customer's life. A good story can win hearts and wallets.
  • Shelf Impact: On a crowded shelf, your product has to shout to be heard. Packaging design can give your product a voice. It can help it say, "Hey, look at me!" and that's what brand owners and retailers want.

Putting It All Together

Packaging is like a puzzle, and each piece - colours, shapes, pictures, words, and even the size - plays a crucial role in making the final picture. It's like a symphony where all the instruments have to play in harmony to create beautiful music.

As shoppers, we're constantly bombarded with choices, and packaging helps us navigate this maze. It's not just about what's inside; it's about how the package makes us feel. For brand owners and retailers, it's the secret sauce that can make their products a hit.

So, next time you're at the store, take a moment to look at the packaging and think about how it makes you feel. You might discover that there's a whole world of psychology behind that bag of chips or that shiny shampoo bottle. And who knows, you might even design your own packaging someday that makes people say, "Wow, I want that!"

Packaging is indeed a powerful tool, and it's all around us, affecting our choices and making shopping an exciting adventure. Keep your eyes open, and you'll see the magic of packaging everywhere you go!

If you would like a behavioural scientists assessment of your current or planned packaging, get in touch.

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About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

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Phillip Adcock

Phillip Adcock CMRS
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

Phillips Signature

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