Strategies & Insights

Structural Engagment

Posted: December 18, 2012 by
Stuart Leslie

 Want a stronger way to communicate your product’s benefits through packaging? Try telling your product’s story to consumers in a way that they see it with their own eyes and feel it with their own hands.

In a split second, form and functionality can promise a superior experience. Instead of just telling the consumer that a product will be easy to use, the package can show the shopper ease-of-use through a prominent pouring mechanism for example.

Before you use structure to tell your story, you need to find out what drives the consumer’s purchasing decisions. For example, consumers looking for a hard-working laundry detergent might be swayed by an angular shape. Its strong shape promises a high level of efficacy.

When my agency 4sight worked with Wrigley to develop the 5-gum Slim Pack to replace the Plen-T-Pak, we were surprised to find that gum choice was fueled by image. Consumers spoke about how they wanted to feel when sharing the product in social situations. So, we created a design that was far afield from the smashed, lint-covered gum package that these consumers despised. We designed a slim package that would avoid getting crumpled in a consumer’s pocket and developed a hook-lock mechanism that could be easily opened with one hand. This easy-open closure not only made the product more accessible, it helped the consumer portray a more polished image.

The new slim paper package effectively addressed consumers’ sensitivities to awkward social situations. Wrigley was able to charge considerably more per pack of gum and record huge sales of just under $100 million in the first year that the 5 brand was on the market.

An easy-open package was also key to Gerber Good Start’s success. Inspired by the experience of parents who found themselves mixing formula in the middle of the night with a crying baby in one arm, the Easy Scoop package has a contoured grip area, easy seal removal with a wide-mouth opening for easy scooping as well as the ability to snap the scoop in with one hand. The rectangular structure also allows for easier storage and stacking. The package helps deliver a better use experience, which builds an emotionally rich bond with the brand. 

These bonds change the consumer experience, and create more loyal customers—proving that emotional engagement can lead to bigger sales.


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Stuart Leslie, an industrial designer, is president and founder of 4sight Inc. (