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Why Does Product Packaging Matter for Retailing


When I started my journey in the pet industry more than 15 years ago, little did I know how important my previous education was in fashion design and how helpful my design experience would be for the rest of my life. Back then I studied shoe & accessory design and even completed an internship with Ralph Lauren in NYC. What does this have to do with pet products you say? The fundamentals of design are very similar whether you’re designing, shoes, a store interior, or a dog cake box.

Many business owners want a beautiful store that is well merchandised with just the right assortment of branded products that convey a certain “lifestyle” for their store. Whether you are just stocking your store with products, private labeling, or manufacturing your own products, package design can play a huge role in your product sales and thus; your future success.

When we think of our favorite pet stores, pet products, or practically anything in the World, there is an element of design that has caught our eye.

How many times have you picked out a bottle of wine, a new snack, or even purchased a piece of fast fashion while scrolling through social media? What caught your eye? It was the design that went into the packaging of that item that made you stop and add it to your cart. If you think about it, nearly everything and everyone is designed as a package to be marketed. Your car, your shoes, your handbag, the clothing you choose to wear, are all products but they’re also statements of your own design preferences and your billboard to the world about your own personal brand. Therefore; YOU are a marketable brand as well.

Your branding can be single, down to earth, country girl or city hipster, granola Mom. Whether it’s for you to wear or sell in your store, what actually goes into the design making decisions when packaging a product for sale? There are many articles available on the Internet about this subject both academic and simplistic. However, sometimes we want our knowledge from someone we know who's been through the struggle.

My aim is to break down package design because I have retailed or sold products off and on for nearly 30 years. Most importantly, I have been through an excruciating package journey with shippable and perishable products for my dog bakery.

Below are some tips to help you understand the journey and importance of product packaging for your store or your future product offering.

Which problem are you solving? When I started my package design journey, I started with the problem of shipping perishable products across the USA. I had to package my items differently than I did in my previous store because I didn’t have to worry about how items would ship safely across the country.

Embarrassingly, I have shipped products that arrived completely molded upon arriving at their destination because I used too much plastic. I used ingredients such as carob that melted and re-mulsified my treat and arrived in a chocolatey, hot, mess. For sometime I used plastic windows which looked pretty but would not make for a profitable business as I was paying $11 for 1 bone cake box!

Every problem that would arise needed to be solved with packaging. I hired designers to put my own design into graphic terms that were printable but then couldn’t get designers to execute precisely my idea. I wanted drips to look like the drips flowing down my 4 inch dog cake and instead got icicles melting from a rooftop.

Before you think about the actual design itself, you must think about the problem you are trying to solve. The weight, height, depth, and shape are all important items to consider not only for the product you are housing, but the cost of shipping, and the experience of your packaging to the end user.

Who is your target audience? Most business owners know who their end user will be. Once the end user is deciphered… you can purchase products to reflect their taste & lifestyle. I know my end product user wants a beautiful product their dog will love. I also know the store purchasing my item wants to attract that client so I need to appeal to both a wholesaler and a retail client. Well designed packaging will look amazing in a beautiful store and attract their intended target; a retail client. Placing beautiful packaging in a store elevates the store therefore increasing the branding for a client that is interested in only the best for their pup!

What is a MUST for your package? Have you ever received one of those lengthy newsletters that were so wordy you deleted it within 30 seconds? According to industry standards the average person spends somewhere between 51-110 seconds on a newsletter which is why it’s so important to get your point across as efficiently as possible by limiting your actual verbiage. The same tactic applies to packaging.

Packaging requirements are often set by the legal jargon required and getting expressed as stylish & efficient as possible. Keep other tools in mind such as branding usage, font size, contact information, and social media connections to maximize your connection with the retail client. Most importantly, make sure the end user (retail client) knows exactly what’s INSIDE your box immediately! If this point is missed, you will be hard pressed to upscale your company with product packaging that is lacking.

Make your package elicit an emotion. Tiffany & Co. has done this VERY well. Nearly everyone knows what comes in a little teal blue box. Number 1837 Blue which was made exclusively for Tiffany & Co. elicits excitement because that little blue box is an icon of luxury, sophistication, and exclusivity all over the World.

By designing memorable packaging, you will not only be well on your way to growing your brand, you will also be able to create experiences that elicit emotion from the end user; the retail client. Study your clients and find out what colors are preferable. Many business owners design stores or packaging based on their own preferences in lieu of their client preferences.

An experienced business owner eventually learns to leave their ego at the door and design for their target client, not themselves. I highly recommend you research the end user and find out what design style and color profile would work best for them. We are in business to do what we love but at the end of the day, we still have to make a profit too! When designing a product or packaging, keep your end user in mind to scale your business. You won’t regret it!

Until next time,
Leel Michelle
Dog Cake Bakery LLC
Retro Stylist Wear LLC


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