European Business: When people order something online, they tend to care about their product and not so much about the box it comes in. Why does packaging matter nonetheless?
Konrad Kwiatkowski: In many cases, the packaging is a customer’s first physical touchpoint with a brand. If you’re placing an order online and scrolling your way through the website, looking at the pictures of the products and reading the descriptions, that is an abstract, non-haptic process. Ideally, touching the package which contains your product for the first time can be a very defining experience in the customer’s relationship with that product. All the unboxing videos on YouTube are a tell-tale sign of this. Packaging is the fifth pillar of marketing and that’s essentially the way we approach it.
Touching the package which contains your product for the first time can be a very defining experience in the customer’s relationship with that product. Konrad Kwiatkowski
Also, packaging is the only marketing touchpoint which reaches 100 % of your customers. Just imagine the possibilities when you can get the attention of every single person who buys your product. That’s not possible with television commercials for example, because most people don’t pay attention when they’re on. But when you ship them something in a package, they will look at the box when they receive it. And when the box is well-designed, people are more likely to leave it in their apartment and they will keep using it for a different purpose, perhaps to collect recipes or invoices, always being reminded of the awesome product that came in it and the company that manufactured it.
European Business: Both global players like BMW or L’Oréal and smaller firms like Happy Socks are among Packhelp’s clients. Are larger or smaller companies generally more innovative with their packaging materials?
Konrad Kwiatkowski: Whether a company is big or small has no influence on how creative it is. Happy Socks is a great example of that: Their boxes and their branding are very colorful and beautifully designed. The most important assets when designing packaging are your imagination and your creativity, and in these categories, the size of your organization really doesn’t matter. Naturally, bigger brands have bigger budgets and it is easier for them to develop and create tailor-made packaging. We started Packhelp, because we wanted to give small and medium-sized businesses the same possibility of delivering their products in their own custom-branded packaging. Our customers can buy as few as thirty boxes, which is an appropriate amount for even the smallest of companies. The only difference is that you can invest in higher-quality materials and more expensive printing techniques when you’re a bigger player with larger financial resources.
European Business: What was the most unique packaging you ever delivered to a client?
Konrad Kwiatkowski: One of the most unique kinds of packaging we ever produced was certainly the one for NORAD, a company based in Berlin which sells top-notch whiskey glasses and other exceptional whiskey accessories. The packaging we created for them was really an extension of their product and corresponded perfectly to their brand image and the glass itself. It was essentially cut from the same cloth and perfectly symbiotic with the company’s design. Both NORLAN and we put a lot of effort into this, and we needed special high-quality materials to be able to produce what they wanted. But the results were awesome and truly one-of-a-kind.
European Business: On your website, you offer your customers many sources of inspiration. How much do your customers rely on the ideas you provide?
Konrad Kwiatkowski: Our customers are pretty creative and they have wonderful brands. Our inspirations section is a place where they can look at other customers’ boxes to find out what’s possible, how the different parts of a box can be designed for maximum effect and what other brands found to be suitable solutions. We created an editor to help our customers design their boxes: Everyone essentially starts out with a blank white box, and it’s amazing to see the impressive results our customers come up with. But our inspirations section really is just that: a way to get inspired, essentially like a Pinterest for packaging. All our customers are extremely skilled branders and their creativity is spectacular.
Customization and personalization are probably two of the major trends: Every company wants to have their own packaging with their own branding. Konrad Kwiatkowski
European Business: With online retail thriving, the demand for packaging is increasing exponentially, while a multitude of companies keep coming up with profound packaging innovations. Where is the packaging market headed and what innovations do you think will have the biggest impact?
Konrad Kwiatkowski: Customization and personalization are probably two of the major trends: Every company wants to have their own packaging with their own branding. Another huge change in the market is the focus on sustainability and the way in which many companies have made it their aim to only use sustainable materials in their packaging. This year, Packhelp is joining the war on plastic and we want to have a fully biodegradable and compostable product line-up by the end of the year. Packaging must not only be creative; it has to be sustainable at the same time. We care about the environment and want to reduce our ecological footprint. We can also see the increasing importance of the ideas of re-usability and upcycling, which allows packaging to be used in multiple ways further on in its lifecycle, after the product has been unboxed. Unilever and Procter & Gamble are two great examples of that.
European Business: As you already mentioned, a customer’s first encounter with their product is usually the unboxing experience. What was the most satisfying unboxing experience you ever had as a customer, and how did the packaging material involved contribute to it?
Konrad Kwiatkowski: I’m not going to be very original here: I’m a big fan of Apple. The way they pack their products is just a work of art, be it their iPads, Macbooks or watches. The packages are beautiful, the materials are very high-end and mostly made of paper, the printing is very nice, all of it is very aesthetically pleasing. Plus, their packaging is absolutely tailor-made to fit their products. There is no free space for the items to tumble around in. Everything is in its place. The unboxing experience of an Apple product is essentially a part of the product’s design; it’s just a joyous experience.
Interview: Julian Miller | Pictures: Packhelp