Branding, Product Marketing

Packaging and labeling your products

written by Tim Berry of Palo Alto Software


Product packaging must be appealing in order to attract and hold the consumers’ eye and attention, and serve as an efficient and functional shipping container.

Most physical products require packaging. This involves the design of a box or wrapper that contains the product. In addition to the function it performs—to hold and protect the product—it is also a powerful selling tool.

Products can have multiple packages. This includes the container itself, such as a bottle, can, or case. This is often enclosed in a box for protection purposes. The product may also have a case or larger container to ship multiple products within one box. Each of these packages, particularly those that the consumers see before their purchase, offers the opportunity to communicate information to consumers at a critical point in their decision making process.

Packaging offers the opportunity to:

Protect the Product

  • Reduce costs due to breakage.
  • Protect the product in transit: for example breakable or perishable items such as perfume, light bulbs or food.
  • Protect the product on the shelf: from theft, damage or tampering (i.e., pharmaceuticals or CDs).

Promote the Product

  • Complement other promotional activities.
  • Communicate information: core benefits, “why to buy” testimonials, Internet addresses and toll-free telephone numbers, for products like tools or software.
  • Display the product: attach to display hardware or stand upright as with gloves or cell phones.

Provide Additional Value and Differentiation

  • To provide increased purchase justification.
  • Dispense the product: ease of use or the size of recommended portions, as with spray paint, hair care products, etc.
  • Preserve the product: seal and reseal perishables. Examples are food products and cleaning supplies.
  • Offer consumer safety: warn of hazards due to improper use of dangerous substances (such as the information on cigarette packaging) or design considerations (such as not standing on the top step of a ladder).
  • Serve other uses: containers that can be used for other after-purchase purposes. Film canisters might carry a couple days’ vitamins or aspirin in a backpack. A current foldable bicycle ships and travels in a suitcase, which then converts into a trailer to be pulled behind the bike.

Retail products purchased on an impulsive basis depend heavily on packaging to communicate information and encourage a buy decision. Music CDs, perfume, and software are examples of this. An increasing number of products are purchased without the assistance from a store employee, magnifying the opportunity and impact of the package.

Well-designed packages offer a promotional tool and convenience value to the user. This can result in another form of product differentiation. Packaging can offer after-purchase value to store the product, or be used for other uses. Razors that are packaged in travel cases are an example of this.

Tim Berry

about the author

Tim Berry

Founder and President of Palo Alto Software and a renowned planning expert. He is listed in the index of "Fire in the Valley", by Swaine and Freiberger, the history of the personal computer industry. Tim contributes regularly to the bplans blog, the as well as his own blog, Planning, Startups, Stories. His full biography is available at Follow Tim onGoogle +


Getting ready to create
a marketing plan?

Get practical ideas and good models with dozens
of examples of successful marketing plans