The Silent Salesman

On Packaging

The primary function of packaging is to preserve product integrity by protecting the product against potential damage from climatic, bacteriological and transit hazards (Stewart, 1996). Moreover, Dischter (1957) was the earliest to articulate the communication role, describing packaging as ‘a silent salesman.’ About 30 years later, Lewis (1991) expanded further on Dischter’s views, stating that “good packaging is far more than a salesman, it is a flag of recognition and a symbol of values”. As the retail environment continues to become saturated, with competitors vying for consumers’ attention, the ‘packaged brand’ dynamic intensifies and retailers are faced with the realisation that packaging has become a fundamental element of the brand statement, if not the defining one.

As the consumer’s journey changes significantly with technological shifts in the retail landscape, a novel packaging opportunity is up for grabs for online retailers. Online shopping involves two decision-making stages: first, the customer decides what to purchase in a virtual space, and second, once the order is physically delivered, the customer decides whether to keep the products or not (Wood, 2001). It is on delivery that the online shopper first makes physical contact with the purchased product. This moment—and those that quickly follow during the unboxing process—can significantly shape the consumer’s first impression. This moment presents an opportunity described by Moreau (2020) as ‘doorstep branding strategy.’ In a proof-of-concept study, Moreau provides preliminary evidence of the strategy’s effectiveness, how the design of the delivery package and its multi-sensory inputs combine to influence consumer satisfaction, return intention, and also entice the consumer to capture and share the unboxing experience, turning customers into brand evangelists.

LAB Design