For anyone who has braved a December mall trip or waited for the perfect cyber deal, holiday shopping can be an overwhelming experience. For retailers, the upcoming holiday season will be busier than ever before. The National Retail Federation found that global holiday sales on average have grown 2.9% over the past decade. However, as sales numbers skyrocket, both online and in store, retailers face increased obstacles to making an impression on consumers.

Marketplace dominance plays a big role in this — and some 64% of consumers say they begin their shopping experience on Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, eBay, Etsy or other marketplace sites. Marketplaces increase revenue for brands due to an increase in sales, but they limit individual brand experiences. Say, for instance, your customer buys a sweater from your site via Facebook. They may love the sweater — but they will not remember buying it from your brand. They’ll remember doing so through Facebook, or Pinterest, etc. How, then, do you leave a branded impression on a marketplace customer?

Memorable packaging is the answer.

What Can Premium Packaging Do?

According to a Dotcom Distribution 2015 packaging study, 49% of online shoppers said that branded packaging made them more excited about opening an item, and 44% said that packaging reinforces a product is worth its cost. And, another 18% reported that they believe packaging reinforces that the brand is for people like them.

The data proves it: branded, premium packaging creates a memorable experience for consumers. From the time they purchase to the moment they open your box, great packaging can not only elevate your product, but it can also push consumers to identify with your brand.

When competing for attention this holiday, personal connections like these can win consumer dollars and help your SMB compete against the bigger box brands. Premium packaging can also translate into long-term brand loyalty and kickstart your 2016 revenue goals.

Who Needs Premium Packaging?

Any company can benefit from branded, premium packaging. However, survey respondents feel that, when ordering products online, certain types of brands should pay closer attention to packaging than others. For example, premium packaging is most important for lifestyle brands, primarily those that sell luxury goods and consumer electronics.


What Should Premium Packaging Look Like?

Premium packaging differs from retailer to retailer, and there are many different opportunities for brands to evolve from the brown box. Universally though, premium packaging should be unique, branded or gift-like.

Here are a few ways to achieve this.

1. Ensure Your Packaging Reflects Your Brand

Strategic packaging reflects your brand tone, mission and vision. From the moment a buyer sees your package, they should be able to identify exactly who your brand is and why you’re doing business. TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker, for instance, make it clear on their packaging that items you buy will trigger a donation. More than 81% of millennial shoppers expect a business to make a public commitment to giving back — and they chose to shop most often with those brands that do so.

“Millennials often use their spending power to express who they are and cause-sumption makes it accessible,” says Horizon Media’s Kirk Olson, VP of Trend Sights at Horizon Media. “It’s important to find the connection organically. A great example is P+G’s Dawn brand when it learned that its products cleaned up oil spills.”

Beyond ensuring your brand mission is evident on the packaging, keep in mind that the look and feel of the box must also reflect your brand’s overall aesthetic. If your brand is serious about craftsmanship, your package should be well-tailored and clean. If your brand has a fun and flirty product line, your box should feel the same.

Incorporate packaging materials that aid this process. Even during the holiday season, any changes made to your boxes need to remain on brand. This strategic association between brand and package is much more memorable than a bland, brown box. However, with companies like Amazon, many consumers have come to expect boring. This gives you a greater opportunity to stand out.

2. Include Extras

Including small add-ons in your package is a simple and cost-effective way to help consumers remember your brand. For the holiday season, a seasonal postcard or trinket can help reinforce brand loyalty. This is the surprise and delight technique used by brands like Zappos.

As omnichannel becomes more and more commonplace, customers are expecting to receive boutique or in-store like service even when shopping online. Think about what you can include in your package that will serve as a nice reminder that your brand has real, thoughtful people working behind the scenes to make sure all customers are happy with their purchases.

3. Get Personal

Use your package to connect with consumers on an individual level. This can include personalized notes, holiday photos of the team wishing the buyer a happy holiday season, etc. Although this is simple, personal moments like these serve as a valuable customer touchpoint. During the holidays especially, a note to a consumer can affirm the seasonal gift-giving spirit.

4. Go Green

Many modern packaging techniques exist to make your brand eco-friendly. These options are not as bland as you might think, and actually give retailers a wide range of design choices with colors, patterns, material, etc. Promoting sustainable packaging is a way to stand out from the other boxes shipped during the holiday season. Not only will shoppers feel good about every package they receive this season, but they will also feel better about ordering from your brand in the future.

5. Be Reliable

During the holiday season, a smart way to earn memorability is to be more reliable than other retailers. Seasonal shopping can be a stressful experience, so ensure that your packages arrive on time and in good condition. Don’t sacrifice the integrity of the package for appearance’s sake.

Use your site to alert customers to the drop dead dates for holiday shipments to arrive before December 25, for example. It is worth it to sacrifice a sale and win customer trust for the late-comers, rather than having them buy and not being able to fulfill their delivery needs. Remember, it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. Don’t put yourself in the position to deliver a bad holiday shipping result.

In all, to make your business more memorable this holiday season, start by taking a close look at your brand’s packaging efforts. Take the time to know your customers, as figuring out what will stick with them is easier when you know what drives their shopping habits. If you don’t know where to start, partnering with an industry-proven vendor is a smart first step. The right vendor has the packaging experience and insights to help you optimize premium packaging with your customers’ needs in mind.

With the year’s biggest holidays quickly approaching, there’s no better time to start than now. The holiday season will be here before you know it.