Packaging as an element of product Planning

The term ‘Packaging’ is recently being used interchangeably to mean both ‘packing’ proper as well as packaging. Traditionally packaging refers to the unit or retail or consumer container and packing to transport container. Consumer packaging has important marketing implications while transport containers are more important from logistics standpoint. Important aspects of consumer packaging will be discussed first, followed by a discussing on transport packaging.

Packaging is an important element in the formulation of the marketing and for a product. With the advent of self service stores and super markets, packaging of a product has to perform the function of a silent salesman in addition to its traditional function of protecting the product. When there is no salesman to promote the product in the stores, the package as kept on the shelf must be able to capture the fancy of the buyers. Good packaging may lead to improved consumer acceptance.

Consumer packaging is also intended to offer better convenience to the consumer and protect the product from pilferage and adulteration. It has been estimated that unit value realization can rise approximately three times if we are able to develop and bring about retail packs for a large number of exportable items. About a third of India’s exports accounts for items wherein packaging is not only important but can enhance but can enhance the popularity of the products.

Some of the factors to be considered for package designing are:

Language: If the product package has to perform the promotional function, the language in which the label is printed must be the local one. Unless a consumer can read what is written, the objective of package able itself is lost.

Color: Consumers may have specific preference for certain colors and these preferences vary from country to country. In the Islamic countries, green is supposed to be a favored color. Greeks like both white and blue, but these are considered to be colors of mourning and sorrow in the Far East. Another oft-repeated example is the case where Indian package introduced in Venezuela met with instant apathy, as the packages were colored yellow which is exclusively used by the conservancy service in the country.

Size Package size should be determined only on finding out the buying characteristics of the consumers. If the buyers shop regularly at close intervals, the size of the package will have to be smaller. Similarly, if the target consumers do not possess freezers, the preferred unit size is likely to be smaller.

Container: Some markets, especially the developed ones, generally prefer disposable containers. Especially recently, because of the preoccupation regarding environmental pollution, the regulatory agencies sometimes insist that containers should be made of materials which will not have undesirable environmental effects. In the developing countries, however, many consumers prefer reusable containers as they like to use them will definitely have an edge over a container which is equally good but will have to be thrown away.

Climate: The climate in the target market also will have to be taken into account while deciding on the package. A country with a hot humid climate will need different packaging, especially for perishable items, than what is required in a country with a cold climate.

One of the important factors behind the foreign biscuit-makers is inability to take a higher market share in Japan is reported to be insufficient packaging. Because of the humid climate and the fact that most of the retail stores where biscuits are sold are open to elements, the biscuits tend to have shorter shelf life. Thus a lot of imported biscuits become stale before they are served.

Length of the Distribution Channel: The channel structure is another important variable in the packaging decision. A long distribution channel means a longer time between production and final consumption. Higher is this time differential, greater is the necessity of providing better and stronger packaging.

Accepted Norm: If consumers in a specific market are used to purchase a product, say, after shave cream in a specific firm, viz., in a tube, it would be easier to market a new brand of after shave cream in a tube rather than in a jar.

Factors such as those mentioned above may necessitate different product packaging in different markets. But here, too, as in the case of product adaptation, the management should first explore the possibility of the same packaging in every market, essentially to save costs. Only when it becomes absolutely necessary to differentiate, is should be resorted to.