It's been a few year since the phrase "The customer is always right" was first uttered. While sentiments and exact interpretation of that phrase have changed over time, the reality of the consumer-driven market has not. Businesses with products to sell need to sell to their audience wherever that audience *is*...and that is getting harder to define. The journey from prospect to customer has grown beyond advertising or marketing, and is now called the "customer experience." It encompasses everything from how prospects first learn about products to their interactions with sales staff/websites through their first *unboxing* (with custom package design). And, fingers crossed, turning them into repeat customers.
The custom package design feature is something of a revolution in these past years. Consumers are expecting packaging that complements the product. A plain, cardboard box won't impress someone who just spent over $2000 on a computer (just ask Apple). It's not that the thrill of receiving packages has decreased; rather, it's that expectations have increased.
Why Custom Package Design?
In Richard Shapiro's list of 2017 customer experience trends, he notes how fundamental packaging has become to the customer experience. It can be a a differentiator in terms of extending the customer experience. Custom package design has been a major success for luxury brands, particularly make up brands like Urban Decay for example. Their unique packaging and magnetic box closure, along with perfectly-formed custom insert trays, turn a routine eye shadow application into an event every time.
As Shapiro notes, it's another opportunity for a company to reinforce their brand and the values they uphold. Customer experience is about more than just the product; when today's purchasers select an item, it's rarely as an afterthought. The amount of information at our fingertips--even in our pockets via smartphones--is staggering. If one item doesn't have what we want, or if the company doesn't respond fast enough to a tweeted question, then we move on to another brand. Shapiro uses the example of opening an Apple box and finding it full of packing peanuts versus their perfectly-molded packaging. It certainly doesn't fit their aesthetic, does it?
Other 2017 Customer Experience Trends
It doesn't end with custom package design. In addition, supporting a positive customer experience can mean controlled touch points at every stage of the journey. When an item is ordered from Amazon, users can track its movement from warehouse to their doorstep. When we request an Uber, we can see the vehicle coming toward us in real time. It's one part instant gratification, and another part setting expectations.
Shapiro also notes that millennials prefer experiences over *things* (and they're willing to pay for it). This feeds into the desire to receive boxes worth opening, worth sharing with the world upon receipt. And this does more than generate content for social channel feeds; it can work toward your benefit as a business as well.
While we name-dropped a few notable brands in this piece, it's important to find your own style and voice in the custom packaging design space. Inspiration is one thing, but copying is another, and definitely not accepted as authentic by consumers. Invest in your packaging, and make sure that you're addressing potential customers throughout the customer experience journey as a whole through 2017.