Thinking Outside the Box: Don’t Forget Your Packaging! – Part I

Packaging is an often-overlooked but nonetheless very important element of any merchandise. However, photographing packaging for e-commerce listings can present some particular challenges. Today we offer some advice on photographing packaging for increased sales.

The Importance of Good Packaging Design

For many people with a great idea for a new product, packaging is so far down their list of priorities that it can get overlooked until almost the last minute. To a certain extent, this is quite understandable. After all, why devote large amounts of time, energy and money to something that, right from the outset, is only ever destined to end up in the bin?

The truth is, though, that even if the packaging doesn’t stay on a product for very long, it’s a huge part of the customer experience when making a purchase. Indeed the quality of packaging will go a very long way towards influencing the degree of satisfaction a buyer feels regarding the goods they’ve just bought.

As packaging is likely the first thing the purchaser of your product will see, look upon it as a way of establishing the context that your product will be viewed in from then on. Great packaging heralds a great product, increasing anticipation for (and, to a degree, also colouring our experience of) what lies inside. Conversely, ugly, cheap, or badly designed packaging will set alarm bells ringing, making the customer more inclined to view the product in negative terms before they’ve even set eyes on it. The product might in fact be identical in the two preceding cases, but initial customer impressions are likely to vary considerably, depending on the manner in which the product has been presented to them.



Why Show Packaging on E-Commerce Listings?

If your products are displayed in a brick-and-mortar shop, then there will of course be plenty of opportunity for potential customers to view the packaging and get a feel for your product and brand. But when items are only viewable online – as is increasingly the case – it’s surprising how many sellers neglect to include images of the packaging in the listing.

Sure, you’re proud of your product and you want the buyer to see it at its best, from every angle. Packaging is secondary, right? In any case, it just serves to obscure the product.

Well, yes, that’s kind of true. However, it’s only half the story.

Nine times out of ten, an unscrupulous manufacturer out to make some quick cash by offloading poor-quality products on unsuspecting consumers is looking to cut corners. They don’t want to waste resources on “unnecessary” luxuries such as good packaging. This is why cheap packaging is frequently a sign of a cheap product. Whereas nice packaging so often functions like a flag that signals “quality goods!” This is as likely to be the reaction when looking at images of packaging online as it is when handling the real thing in a store. Don’t underestimate the power of your packaging to convert casual browsers into paid-up customers. Even online.



How to Photograph Packaging?

As we’ve noted above, the quality of your item is first represented by the box it comes in. If you’ve got a good product, it should have a good box to match. And if it does, then you’ll want to show that box off in photos.

While the actual product will of course always be the star of the show, don’t think that photos of packaging need necessarily be boring. Even plain old brown cardboard boxes can be made to look expensive and interesting with the right backdrop and some skillful use of lighting — use your creativity.

Good lighting will also bring out the tactile qualities of your packaging, allowing buyers to gain a pretty accurate impression of how the box will feel to the touch, of the contrast between smooth and matte areas, or the relief of embossed details, etc. In fact, if the photography is done well, viewers should almost be able to smell the newness of the box-fresh product. Because online shoppers can’t actually touch the packaging, you should try to photograph it in such a way as to communicate the feel of the materials by emphasising texture and finish.

In this respect, packaging photography should appeal to similar senses as food photography, making the viewer want to hold the boxed item in their hands, to enjoy the experience of slowly unwrapping it, the anticipation of finally laying eyes on the product inside. Try showing the product peeking out of the box in order to increase the sense of excitement and expectancy.

Yes, even packaging photography can be sensuous!


Next week we’ll be publishing part 2 of this article, which has lots of useful tips for photographing your packaging. In the meantime, please contact us at the Photography Firm if you’d like to use our expertise for your next packaging shoot.