Posted on May 5, 2022 by Michael Boik

The Consumer Psychology of Packaging Presentation

Take it from someone who works within the packaging industry, it is always interesting to experience the other side of the coin as a consumer—someone who has placed an order online and receives a shipped product, rather than being the person who designs and creates the packaging. We often share stories and have comments, both good and bad, around the office about personal items we’ve received at home and the packaging they arrived in. I imagine it’s similar to what a chef might do when they dine at a new restaurant. I really like what they did with the red wine sauce, but I could have done without the mushrooms, sort of thing.

Sadly, most of the comments are negative and have a general tone of “Oh I can’t believe they shipped this in THAT.” The below picture perfectly illustrates this sentiment. We’ve removed the brand name to protect the company, but this is what I would categorize as a high-end sunglass brand. As you can see, the packaging is simple. Brown, unprinted board with the sunglasses rather unprotected in a paperboard product box with no internal protective packaging, not even void fill, to hold the item secure during shipment. The outer shipper is too large for the size of the product, so the product is free to move around. I would imagine the amount of returns due to damaged product are high. Ultimately I returned the product, unhappy as a consumer that this was the thought that went into their packaging. It made me even more aware of the mindset of a consumer when they receive their order and just how important that unboxing experience truly is.

packaging presentation

In DTC—The Packaging IS the Product

Many brands are associated with their packaging. Think about some of your favorite grocery items at the store. When you’re looking for Coca-Cola, you’re looking for that bright red can. When you want Oreo cookies, your eyes are searching for blue and white. This association also applies when you have a product delivered to your home. When you have a memorable packaging and unboxing experience, it stands out in your mind as a consumer, especially when compared to the next time you have a very disappointing or unmemorable experience. And if these two experiences are for similar products, you will naturally be drawn to the better experience.

First Impressions Matter

As stated above, the packaging experience is as important as the product experience, and the packaging experience always comes first. This is especially true of high-end, luxury brand items at higher price points. When you buy a $5.00 item online, you may not pay as much attention to the packaging it ships in, compared to when you buy a $50.00 item. But a $500.00 item, you probably are very aware of the packaging. This is because it’s literally the first thing the customer sees at their doorstep or in their mailbox. They will see your box and either think one of two things:

  • Hmm, I wonder what this is. I can’t remember what I ordered.
  • Oh! It’s here! I’ve been waiting for this to arrive. I’m so excited!

Memorable packaging is suspenseful. Think about Christmas morning. Often times the excitement is in seeing the wrapped present under the tree—even more so than opening it. The presentation enhances the inevitable unveiling. You want the customer to be engaged before they even open the box or lay eyes on the product. You’re building up to the moment.

Perception is Reality

If as a consumer, your perception of the experience is that the company likely wanted to maximize profit margin and did so by cutting back on packaging costs, then this is the reality. Attractive packaging reflects quality. It doesn’t matter if a company spent years focusing on packaging and putting a lot of energy and resources into it. If their customers don’t share that sentiment, then it is wasted energy and resources. It has to be obvious to the consumer.

Sometimes Good Products Can’t overcome Bad Packaging

The sunglasses I received are a good product. Good quality and very comfortable. In different packaging, I might not have returned them. I’m sure this is not an experience that was unique to me. If a good product arrives in bad packaging, it sends mixed signals to the customer. A good product that is damaged or displayed poorly or overshadowed by unattractive packaging is an internal conflict for the consumer regarding their ability to trust you with their best interest for this and future orders.


Your packaging matters. Luckily, we know this better than anyone. Call us or email below and find out how we can help your packaging be as great as your product(s).


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As always, if you have any questions on any of our products or services, one of our branded packaging advisors is standing by to assist, with decades of experience behind them. Want to know more about custom packaging options? Please call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us via email at


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