From Label to Lifestyle: The Psychology of Packaging Design

Package design

According to one recent study, about 72% of people say that the design of a product’s packaging absolutely influences their eventual purchasing decision. Not only that, but about 61% of people say that they are actually more likely to continue to purchase a luxury product if it comes in what they perceive to be “premium packaging.”

It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re in or what you’re selling – obviously, your product needs to be able to stand on its own. You may be able to ship a few units of a low-quality item, but soon its reputation will begin to develop. Likewise, items known for being of high quality or for offering a lot of value tend to stand the test of time.

But something else is also true: you can only make one first impression. For the vast majority of consumers, that impression won’t be formed by the product itself. It will come by way of the product packaging. But packaging design isn’t just essential from a practical perspective – there’s also a great deal of psychology behind it.

The Visual Nature of Packaging Design

When it comes to the actual psychology of packaging design, there are two main elements at play. The first is the immediate visual impact, while the second has more to do with the overall experience that packaging offers.

To speak to the former, it’s important to understand that human beings are visual learners. According to one recent study, this is true of about 65% of the general population. Another study revealed that while people only remember about 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read just a few days later, they remember a full 80% of what they see. This comes down to the fact that our brains are better at processing visual cues than they are at written language.

What this means is that even something as seemingly simple as the shape of your product packaging can make a far bigger impact than most realize. If you’re selling a health and beauty product and you make your bottle just a bit bigger or smaller than the standard size, that becomes more than just a quick way to stand out. It becomes a way to stick in someone’s mind so that they remember you later. The same is true if your product is in a box with a particularly unique design.

The Influence of Packaging Design on Purchasing Decisions: Breaking Things Down

Next, you must consider the psychology behind label design and how certain choices can influence potential consumers.

Yes, it’s true that your product labels do need to contain certain data points specific to the product you’re selling. If you’re selling a food product, there needs to be a nutritional label that breaks down the total calories, the amount of fat, and more. If your product is potentially dangerous, you need to have language that indicates that it is flammable (or that it poses any related hazard).

But once you get beyond that, psychology tells us that the colors you choose for your product packaging can trigger certain emotions within those people who see it. There’s a reason why “Stop” signs are red – it’s because red is tied to an almost universal association with ideas like “danger” and because the color itself is associated with feelings of boldness and excitement. Those same ideas can carry over to your product packaging with the right strategy.

Red isn’t the only color that is associated with some fairly heavy emotions, however. Others include but are not limited to ones like:

  • Orange, which is known for being a friendly, cheerful color that conveys confidence and a sense of adventure.
  • Yellow, which is seen as cheerful and optimistic.
  • Green, which many people feel is a very soothing and peaceful color. It’s also associated with health because most vegetables are green.
  • Purple, which is commonly associated with ideas of luxury and opulence.
  • Pink, which has an almost universal association with femininity.
  • Black, which is known for being elegant and sophisticated. It also conveys a sense of strength and authority.
  • Grey, which is seen as a “neutral” color and as a result conveys feelings of calm and has an impression of being balanced.

Pair this with the fact that psychology tells us that a business has on average about seven seconds to make a first impression with a consumer. That’s when the psychology of packaging design (and how to use it to your advantage) becomes clear.

There is probably a laundry list of things you’d like someone to know about your product. You want them to better understand the value it will bring to their lives. You want them to know what problems it will help them solve or what they’ll be able to do after they make a purchase that they can’t do right now. You want to know that your product is of a higher quality compared to your competitors or that your brand is more fun and exciting.

You wish you could sit them down and explain all this to them, at which point they’d obviously choose you over anyone else. But you can’t – psychology tells us you literally don’t have the time.

But what DO you have? Your product’s packaging. The colors you use, the shape of the box, the feel of the material it was constructed with. All these things say a lot about both your business and the product inside, even if you’re not literally saying anything.

According to Hubspot, about 90% of all information that is transmitted to the human brain is visual. Likewise, visuals are processed about 60,000 times faster than text alone. So how do you make the most out of the precious few milliseconds that you have available to you when a potential customer sees your offering for the first time?

By playing to the psychology of packaging design and by making intentional choices not based on what you think “looks the best,” but by what it helps you convey. If you’re a scrappy young newcomer on the scene, lean on lighter colors for a sense of fun and excitement. If your key competitive advantage is your sophistication, colors like black become your best friend.

Not only does this become a great way to push people in a direction you’d like to take them in on the buyer’s journey, but it also becomes a great way to stand out among your competitors on a store shelf at the exact same time. People who already know what they’re looking for will have a far easier time finding it. People who don’t will feel compelled to your product packaging thanks to its design, even if they can’t quite convey why.

At that point, your product will be able to speak for itself – because it’s finally had the opportunity to do so.If you’d like to find out more information about the psychology behind packaging design, or if you have any additional questions about our label printing services that you’d like to go over with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Just 1 Label today.


nutrition label

The Rise of Smart Labels: Revolutionizing Product Information

Package design

From Label to Lifestyle: The Psychology of Packaging Design