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3 Pillars to Reimagine Your Brand's Packaging for the Next Generation Packaging represents a key piece of brand real estate and an inherent marketing opportunity for brands to connect with their customers. Here's how to help leverage the power of packaging to speak to an evolving consumer audience.

By Josh Bowden Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Over the past two years, we've witnessed an incredible and accelerated shift to a digital-first world. With consumers mostly shopping remotely, from home or their mobile devices, the e-commerce sector has boomed — accounting for nearly 20% of total retail sales globally in 2020. For brands looking to build a relationship with valued consumers, there are clear implications.

The digital age is changing the way that brands connect and communicate with their customers and target demographics. Without consistent in-person shopping experiences or opportunities to build rapport and get in front of customers in-store, brands must find a way to provide personalized experiences and services to their customers — wherever they are — on a meaningful level.

And while social marketing and advertising is certainly valuable, there's one in-person marketing opportunity that shouldn't be overlooked: packaging.

Related: How to Become a More Sustainable Brand

Packaging is a key piece of brand real estate, and an opportunity for brands to foster real connections with customers from a values-driven, creative and community perspective. No longer an afterthought, packaging today is being reimagined as a central part of every brand experience and an opportunity for brands to tap into the next generation of business and consumer behavior.

At noissue, we work with a global community of businesses and creators that collectively recognize the importance of three pillars in reimagining packaging to speak to an evolving consumer audience:

1. Creativity

The next generation of entrepreneurs, brands and creators are looking to stand out in a culture of hyper-personalization and curation. Regardless of the size or stage of a business, packaging is a key way that brands can do this. By leveraging platforms to create custom-designed and creatively-inspired packaging products like tissue paper, tape, boxes and mailers, companies can better reflect the aesthetic and ethos of their brand.

With unboxing no longer reserved just for influencers, every customer can be made to feel special and connected to the brands they buy with unboxing experiences that tell a story. Approach the design of your packaging as you would the design of your next product — after all it represents the first physical touch point for many of your customers and an opportunity for lasting impression and connection.

Related: How Product Packaging Can Inspire Sales

2. Sustainability

I mean this not as an overused buzzword, but as a core business principle. Consumers and businesses alike want to contribute to a more sustainable world for the environment, for businesses, for individuals and for communities. For many consumers, packaging may be one of the first ways they connect with a brand on a values level, such as receiving their online orders in packaging made from circular materials that are either compostable, recycled or reusable. It's an easy way for brands to connect with customers on more than a superficial level via a shared commitment to bettering the world for people and the planet. Communicate your commitment through multiple channels, with the packaging itself serving as one touchpoint, reinforced by references to your sustainable practices on your website, social media and in speaking opportunities and interviews.

3. Community

The next generation of consumers wants to be part of the journey for the businesses they support, driven by the access social media and the internet brings to the customer's fingertips. This community element can be reinforced with packaging that drives brand and social engagement, encourages sharing via social media and speaks to a shared set of values.

Consider integrating QR codes into your custom packaging to help your community bridge the gap between their physical and digital experience with your brand and product — even helping them make the most out of your product long-term with things like instructional cooking videos, at-home care tips for those new leather shoes or bouquet inspiration to go along with plants procured for this season's cutting garden.

Related: 4 Keys to Telling a Great Brand Story That Increases Sales

Ultimately, it's time for businesses and brands to take advantage of the opportunity inherent in packaging and reimagine what their packaging says about their brand and business. Simply switching up packaging designs can be a great foundation for brand growth, evolution and differentiation, and is easily accomplished with custom, sustainable packaging that is thoughtfully designed to give you a social edge. It could be a newsletter printed in newspaper format on custom tissue paper, added components like stickers and reusable totes, compostable mailers with a call to action or viral custom tape.

Given the popularity of unboxing content online, businesses must carefully consider their packaging offering to create a picture-perfect unboxing for all customers — encouraging an engaged social experience that drives community growth, and is accessible for everyone. Packaging represents a unique opportunity to mimic the tactile experience of in-person shopping through the use of intentionally-designed, carefully-curated mailers and materials.

The world is changing and brands need to keep up — so get creative, think and act sustainably and with intention, and pay attention to the interests, wants and needs of your community. Your brand experience will be better for it.

Related: 3 Things You May Not Know About Sustainable Packaging, But Should

Josh Bowden

CEO of noissue

Josh Bowden is co-founder and CEO of Noissue, the creative packaging platform making custom, sustainable packaging accessible to businesses of all sizes. An entrepreneur at heart, he is passionate about building a global brand with a positive impact on people, communities and the planet.

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