STI Group packaging showcases brands

Shoppers typically focus their attention on individual packaging for no longer than 1.6 seconds. That gives the packaging a very limited time during which to do two things: capture shopper attention within the category and communicate the brand message effectively.

Studies have shown that although a typical person may set off to a store with an idea of the items they wish to buy, around two-thirds of consumers don’t make their final purchase decision until they reach the point of sale. Gift boxes or occasion-based promotional packaging can be a particularly effective way to grab their attention and encourage shoppers to pick up a product. Shoppers respond most positively to promotional packaging design that looks elegant, has substantial content and includes information about the contents. To convey high product quality to shoppers and consumers, both visibly and tangibly, STI Group’s design teams create a broad and versatile range of promotional packaging. Applying years of expertise across numerous product categories, the final design might use any combination of unusual shapes, creative print, eye-catching or textured finishes and integrated viewing windows.

Product References

Perceived quality influences how much consumers are willing to pay

Using Semo, a fictitious chocolate brand we created, STI Group tested the impact of packaging design on consumer willingness to pay. Based on a price of 1.21 euros for 100g, those contacted said that they were prepared to pay, on average, 50% percent more (1.82 euro/100g) for the product when sold in elegant packaging. (Source: Ipsos Observer, i:omnibus, 2014)

As a specialist in customised promotional packaging design, STI Group has a wide array of finishing options at its disposal to create the desired effect on shoppers. A range of varnishes can be used to highlight the whole design or just focus on particular elements, such as the brand logo. To create the ultimate in shimmer and shine, there are the options of cellophane coating, foil-laminated cardboard, or even lenticular or holographic films. Embossing techniques can be used to add real depth and impact to certain design elements, as well as giving a more luxurious feel to the finished box. Luxury packaging can be a powerful way to reinforce the personality and quality of premium brands as well as encouraging shoppers to reach out, make contact and interact with the product. Innovative finishing techniques such as adding functional layers to material are invaluable for certain industries, and are particularly important if it will come into direct contact with food. Combining materials like paper, cardboard and corrugated board with plastic films, barrier coatings and/or surface finishes can create promotional packs with all the characteristics demanded by food contact safety regulations as well as client and brand requirements. These finishes can confer grease resistance, fire resistance, heat resistance and even scratch protection for sensitive surfaces, giving functionality without compromising the creative design.

It’s clear: viewing windows drive sales

Another factor that should be taken into account during design is the consumer desire for transparency. Shoppers like to be able to see exactly what they are buying, which is why, in addition to shape and finish, viewing windows play an important role in promotional packaging. Windows spanning three sides of the box are especially attractive as they create a full, unobstructed view of the product. Windows can also be printed, extending the creative across the clear film to create even greater impact from the finished design. ‘Seeing a product directly creates a far greater impact on the consumer brain and lends it far more credibility than any product photograph or abstract quality label,’ confirms Neuromarketing expert Dr. Hans-Georg Häusel of Gruppe Nymphenburg Consult AG. Open window cut-outs, without plastic film, can also give shoppers limited contact with the product inside, in order to evaluate its features before buying – for example, to activate sound, light and other design features on toys.

Pack a punch with on-pack promotions

Giveaways create a great incentive for the consumer to purchase. Mainly used for the launch of new products, Collect & Win promotions or multi-buy deals, they may also be used for promotional sweepstakes or communicating additional usage information (e.g. recipe booklets). But what impact does promotional packaging design really have on the purchase decision? Does it affect consumer willingness to pay a particular price if a product is offered in a gift box or as part of a set? STI Group commissioned Ipsos market researchers to explore these questions, using promotional whisky packaging as their example. The representative online survey of 18 -70 year old consumers in Germany showed that they were ready to pay, on average, 13% more for a bottle of whisky in packaging than for an unpackaged bottle. Respondents were willing to spend as much as 27% more for gift packaging that also contained two glasses.  


What factors should I consider during the packaging design stage?

Primarily, packaging needs to provide strong brand and product communication. Packaging also has many secondary requirements to fulfill, such protecting the contents, being suitable for transport, user convenience, sustainability, etc. STI Group designers will also take into account industry-specific requirements, such as food contact safety regulations, serialisation, modular inserts for products of different shapes and sizes, and size standardisation.We also design special packaging solutions for beverages – like bottle carriers and bag-in-box packs. These designs are environmentally friendly and enable much more efficient transport.

Is it important to conform to module dimensions for sales or promotional packaging?

Yes. In-store displays deliver really eye-catching merchandising within a limited space. To make the most of the secondary display space available to a brand, STI Group’s design team ensure right at the start of the design process that the final product will fit efficiently into displays.

How does the packing process affect packaging design?

The final structural design of the packaging must take into account whether product will be placed into the box manually or by machine. As a full service provider, STI Group’s services portfolio includes a consulting team that provides guidance on packaging technology, to ensure that new promotional concepts can be executed efficiently and no part of the supply chain is ignored.

What makes packaging ‘convenient’?

 Convenience is defined as ease of use for the end consumer. A number of key packaging features meet the definition of convenient:

  • resealable boxes that allow removal of single portions
  • child-friendly or senior-friendly opening and closure mechanisms
  • integrated dispensing devices that allow easy consumer handling
  • added value printing inks to show ideal temperature
  • microwaveable trays or pizza slices pre-lined with parchment paper, ready to be popped into the oven straight from the box.

What packaging features can be tailored to a target group?

Particular requirements can be met, such as for child-proofing or theft protection, but the concept of ‘universal design’ is becoming more and more important due to demographic changes. Research, such as that conducted by London-based institute Ricability, has shown that products tailored to the needs of a specific group may in fact be appreciated by all age groups. Greater user-friendliness and improved handling of packaging, features designed specifically for seniors, for example, have been found to make the brand more appealing across generations. Seniors and young adults have one key thing in common: they often live alone in small apartments. So it’s no surprise that both target groups appreciate being able to remove individual portions easily from a resealable box.

How does promotional packaging differ for online and offline retail?

In physical stores, the packaging is used to enhance brand recognition, appeal and differentiation from the competition. In online retail, the differentiation aspect isn’t a simple on-shelf brand comparison. Many shoppers may not even browse the whole category. So the challenge is how to stand out online and still create an emotional connection between product and shopper. A great way to achieve this is for retailers to show an image of the primary packaging and also offer the shopper a virtual unboxing experience so they can see what they will get inside. That’s about as close to physical contact as an online shopper can get. STI Group can create this unboxing experience in the form of 3D PDFs, Augmented Reality applications or video clips, which can be integrated into any online store. Inlays, printing inside the pack and creative transport cartons are all elements of the overall brand experience, which together can help to reduce post-purchase dissonance (when consumers feel disappointed in a product that they have bought online).

What is meant by ‘promotional packaging’?

Promotional packaging is a specially modified design that is available for a limited time only. Its main purpose is to capture attention and pique interest by standing out visually, driving shoppers to make an immediate purchase at the point of sale. The limited time availability triggers impulse purchase by creating artificial scarcity: shoppers typically don’t like to feel as if they might miss out.

What does the German Packaging Ordinance stipulate?

The objective of this ordinance is the prevention and recycling of packaging waste. It defines various types of packaging, which are subject to different regulations:

  • sales
  • secondary
  • transport

Sales packaging covers all packaging that is taken home by (or reaches) the end user or consumer. The definition includes not only the carton around the product itself, but also things like e-commerce shipping boxes. Manufacturers and retailers (both physical and online) are responsible for ensuring that their sales packaging can be disposed of via the private system of waste management, or recycled via a return system. Violating this ordinance results in penalties for retailers and manufacturers.