If you want to get people to buy your products, you’ll need to understand how consumers make their buying decisions. That’s where using behavioural economics in packaging design comes in. Marketing and packaging designed around the consumer’s decision-making process will make them want to buy your product. Behavioural economics considers why people shop for certain products, buy and use them, become loyal customers and then dispose of them. This behaviour hinges on personal, situational, psychological, and social factors.

According to behavioural economics expert Sonia Friedrich humans are predictably irrational. The decisions we make are largely based on emotion and are not logical. We are naturally wired to compare and will intuitively make a quick unconscious decision in line with our predispositions and then rationalise our emotional decisions after the fact. “A few years ago, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio made a groundbreaking discovery. He studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that they seemed normal, except that they were not able to feel emotions. But they all had something peculiar in common: they couldn’t make decisions. They could describe what they should be doing in logical terms, yet they found it very difficult to make even simple decisions, such as what to eat.” (Source 1) 

We all have our own biases, tendencies and mental shortcuts to help us make quick decisions when shopping. Once we make a decision we will try to justify our choice to meet norms or make us feel better about the purchase. Packaging, advertising and campaigning around a product should be aimed at tapping into the emotional side of the consumer. This includes associating the product with an ideal lifestyle, supporting a charity or making a positive impact on the environment with their purchase.

Here are 3 ways to use behavioural economics in packaging to persuade people to buy your product.

1. Nudge behaviour

There are many opportunities to “nudge” people’s behaviour by making subtle changes to the context in which they make decisions. We all have a status quo bias that keeps making us make the same decisions over and over. This is automatic and habitual which is hard to change. To persuade consumers to buy our product we need to break this unconscious behaviour with a good enough reason to consider an alternative. Creating a new norm with packaging designed to tap into the psyche can help steer consumers toward your product. We can use behavioural economics in packaging design to do this by challenging the current norm with a higher calling, for instance, removing a plastic window may be perceived as “helping save the planet”. Another powerful nudge is when we are presented with three choices we tend to use compromise to help us make a choice, usually the “middle” one. 

2. Loss aversion – fear of missing out

Humans fear loss more than we value gain. The fear of missing out is twice as powerful in driving decision-making than the perception of extra gain (think toilet paper during the recent pandemic). Effective marketing techniques use this as a tool to persuade the consumer to buy their products. For example, a sale that includes a limit on the number of products per purchase is more effective than a price decrease alone. Limited edition packaging also plays into this consumer behaviour.

3. Path of least effort

Another technique used in effective marketing and product packaging is to guide the consumer to the path of least effort. Humans, by nature, will steer towards minimal effort and contract from something that is difficult. If we feel overwhelmed with too much information we will disengage and revert back to our status quo bias. This takes a split second! We can easily apply this to product packaging. Consumers will naturally pull away from a complicated and cluttered package compared to one with minimal text and a clear message. Giving the pack “eyeball breathing space” to allow consumers to engage and will help to persuade them to try something new. Auditing your packaging for areas with too much information could help to increase your product’s visibility in a sea of competition. 

If you’ve done this, and you’re stuck on how to improve your packaging, give Mela Creative a call. We have over 25 years of packaging experience and can help improve or revamp your product packaging to make sure your product is seen and heard.

Source: PKN + Food & Drink Business Women in Packaging Virtual Forum 2020