Make the Right First Impression with Packaging
Just like people judge a book by its cover, they judge your product by its packaging. So how do you create a great first impression? Enter Lizzièe Jeréz, a 15-year veteran packaging designer who specializes in working with lingerie brands like Smart & Sexy, RBX, Christian Lacroix and others to create powerful packages that add value to the product inside them.
How to win with the second biggest segment in the lingerie business
Brandon: Just like people judge a book by its cover, they judge your product by its packaging. That’s where Lizzièe Jeréz comes in. She’s worked with lingerie brands like Smart and Sexy, RBX, Christian Lacroix and others to create powerful packages that add value to the product inside them. Among the insights she shares today, you hear about the three things that make a good package, how much to spend on packaging as a percentage of product value and the six big mistakes brands can make when designing new packaging.
Brandon: So Lizziee, to kick things off, why don’t we start by asking, how does packaging actually benefit the product experience?
Lizziee: Every year, more than 90% of products fail because customers don’t have the time and energy to learn the advantages of all the products out there. They use a little shortcut we call packaging, and packaging is powerful. Engaging our senses is a crucial part of the experience and how it influences emotion and decision making. Establishing the center is critical to any brand experience. Everyone should take advantage. I don’t know if you are familiar with this unboxing trend, but everyone should take advantage of it. It’s significant for growing companies because you can have a direct impact on sales and a company’s overall appeal. For example, I spoke to the creators of the Hanky Punky shipping box. It’s a beautiful box, and the story goes that they had to mix this product and they needed a way to sell them and to move the product.
So they came over to Accurate Box company and they designed this box that’s brown on the outside, a stark white on the inside with a beautiful bright graphics. It’s added value to this underwear that it was just sitting in a warehouse, and the sales increased more than 30%. But it’s just goes to show you how good packaging adds value to your product overall and why it just engages the customer in a more personal way. Because now you’re not just showing them your product, you also engage their sense of touch, and you create visual appeal. And you are engaging a lot of things. I’ve known companies who use a little bit of perfume so that when you open the box you also get this very pleasant, very light scent, and it would also create a pleasant memory of opening this package.
So packaging can continue to influence a company’s sales as it grows larger. Changing the packaging for milestones or holidays would increase sales for up to 5%. So don’t get with just one packaging, and, because it’s your brand, keep using it for years and years and years. I mean you should, because it is your brand. But having just a little special something maybe once a year – if you’re a small company, you can’t afford to the more – maybe once a year would be something that’s doable and it will show your customers that you care. Okay.
On the other hand, poor packaging can have an even more dramatic effect in my experience. I recently ordered some underwear from a well-known retailer, and the underwear arrived in a plastic bag, a plastic bag from a Chinese factory. And I was very disappointed and returned the product. As a packaging designer, I enjoy the package. I enjoy the way everything arrives. And I spoke to some people about this and how they felt about it, and they felt the same way. It wasn’t an expensive brand, it was a mass retailer. However, just because you are inexpensive doesn’t mean you can’t do a little something to make the customer experience more pleasant and engage with sense that we spoke about.
Brandon: It’s a very fascinating insight. In particular the concept of unboxing. A couple of years ago, my wife actually signed up for a subscription box of lingerie that would come once a month, and it was called Enclosed. And they had a very interesting unboxing strategy, or packaging strategy, in that they incorporate all the different senses. So you would open the box – a regular shipping box – and then you’d see their nice package and all the rest. You would open it up, there would be – depending on the month – there would be different themes. So like a Mother’s Day type theme or a Valentine’s Day type theme or Christmas or what have you. And there would be different flowers in there and a little bit of perfume in it. It was beautiful. So to your point, the packaging experience it’s very, very important, very powerful. Especially when you compare it to some of the other packaging experiences you get from the native experiences you just mentioned.
Lizziee: Brands that really know how to engage their customers. Brands are understanding how to leverage emotions, and they’re creating impactful marketing pieces. The lingerie of the month, it costs a little more to make the packaging, but you are excited every month to get this package, and you stay a loyal customer because it’s a little gift that you get every month and it excites you, it engages your senses.
Brandon: Absolutely. It’s the experience. So we’ve alluded to it already in different ways, but just to add some clarity to it, what are the primary attributes of good packaging?
Lizziee: We often get wrapped up in what good packaging is or should be, but it’s actually very simple. First of all, the packaging should be attractive. It should be well designed. I don’t mean add a bunch of bells and whistles to it, just have a very clean design that represents your brand and represents your customer. It has to be pleasing to the eye. It has to provoke interest in the product and the brand. A couple of years back, I designed a box for No Boundaries. The objective was to showcase the boy shorts’ wide premium colorful printed waistband. The challenge was to package the underwear in a way that this feature was the first thing that customers were drawn to. I used the brand colors pink and black, make the box black with white and pink print and very minimalistic. I had a cascading package opening at the bottom.
A cascading packaged box is the one where the underwear looks like it’s in steps when you finish the box. So it is an open package and you have one on the top and one that one is slightly lower. And the way I designed it had the waistband perfectly for one on top and the other at the bottom so that you could see both designs from the bottom, and the printer designs of the underwear on the top. The trick was to have them shown enough on top and the bottom, but still be able to fit different sizes of the underwear into this one box. It was a little tricky, having to make the package a little wider or a little smaller. At the end of the day, it became a very beautiful package and one of that they still use today. And they use it for everything because it is convenient and attractive.
Another attribute of good packaging is convenience. When a package is convenient, it showcases the panties in the right way or the product in the right way, it ships well, it hangs well if it’s hanging, is not too big or bulky if that’s what you’re going for. Whenever I design anything for the holidays – if it’s mass market, you want it to be big and bulky because there’s so much going on in a store that you want your package to stand out from the mess of people buying gifts. So if you’re going to design something for the holidays and it’s going to go in a store, then you want it to be big and bulky. If it’s for any other time of the year, any day – if it’s not a specialty item – you want to have a good size, you want the customer to be able to grab it, put it in a bag and go.
So the package I design it for No Boundaries was a one-size box, it fit size 4–12. And it was actually very nice. They really liked it.
Another attribute of good packaging is the cost. You don’t need the packaging to cost a lot of money for it to be good. Your cost for the packaging should stay at around 10% of your product. It should never go above 15%. Or this is a specialty item where you’re spending 30%, 35%, where it would be justified because it’s a one-time thing, once a year. In this case, you would go out and get premium materials to do this one-time packaging. Doesn’t mean, again, that you’re going to add a bunch of glitter and metallics and fluorescents. You are just going to make this package with better materials. maybe a different design, more colors. That’s what I think you should keep in mind when thinking about creating a package around your product: it has to be attractive. It has to be convenient, not just for your company but also for the customer and for the retailer. And you have to keep the costs down.
Brandon: Well, those are very good insights. Thank you. Moving over for a minute, actually, to a little bit more of a discussion on marketing. What are the fundamental differences between packaging that is designed for online purchases versus packaging that you would see in a traditional retail environment?
Lizziee: Brands need to know that you need different strategies for online and retail sales (in-store sales). It is essential that your packaging is attractive inside a store. Buying decisions are usually influenced by factors like shelf or stores position as well as packaging design, clever designs, something that opens up easily or something that is resealable – things that work well with the brand. Online, it’s different because you’re not looking at this packaging, you’re not being attracted by it. So while your product is the main focus online, when the customer receives this product, they need to be able to feel like they are cared for. Online, what matters is packaging design that’s attractive to customer. It is impossible for shoppers to compare products the way they do in store, but decision-making time is a lot faster online.
So you need packaging designs that easily promote product and brand recall and enable the product to stand out from others. So when you get something online and it arrives… I can buy three different brands of bras, but I will remember the bra that came with the prettiest box because of that sensory experience that we spoke about earlier. We need to engage the senses to excite the customer from the second the package arrives through the unboxing experience. I read a story, I believe it was WestRock, and it said that almost 20% of customers that have written reviews have talked about the product’s packaging online, which led to about 15% increase in sales of this product, of this brand. Because people, they write reviews, so they do a little video of unboxing the package and they usually put a link in the bottom. And you click on this link and now you engage with this website, you engage with this product.
And you can’t wait to get this package, I would say more than 20% of customers have purchased a product because they read an online review or they saw an unboxing video and they wanted to have the same good experience. And I am sure that number is going to climb even more as online becomes a bigger and bigger way of shopping. I don’t think that the trend has stopped growing. A lot of stores are gearing their products to be more of an experience as well. So when you walk into a store, it’s less about how much product they have in stores and more about how this product is displayed and how the customer feels when they walk into the store.
I want to go to the store now because the store has become an experience. Whether your product sells online, in a retail store or both, you have to create an experience. And when you’re in the store and your customer buys whatever it is they buy. I don’t know about you, but I get excited when someone takes my underwear, imposes it in a little tissue bag and then attaches a sticker on it. Stickers are a very inexpensive way to add value to your package. A little bit of tissue paper is a very inexpensive way to add value to your brand, and I think that’s important on both platforms. They are different in the way that one is faster, the other one you can do at 3:00 AM, they should be the same in that they create a sense of excitement either online or in store.
Brandon: Very good. You mentioned previously that packaging as a concept is fairly simple, but it also seems there are a lot of mistakes that brands can make when it comes to designing their packaging to create an effect. What are some of those biggest mistakes?
Lizziee: The biggest mistake companies make out there would be over complicating things. I am guilty of this. I’ve done this when I’m designing something. I remember I designed a Christian Lacroix underwear box for men. I had so much stuff going on on this box. It had embossing, metallics window, debossing, I wanted to add some laser cutting and it was too much. I got up, I took a nice little walk and when I came back I took everything off, and put a gold metallic stripe on the box and it worked. It was fine. It looked beautiful, had some photography done, cutest model ever. He is the sweetest guy ever. He came in that afternoon, I wasn’t going to have a picture at first, but I sent him a text and I said, “hey, I need a photo are you available? One hour?” He came in and it was great.
So that’s the biggest mistake people make. You want to add a lot of things to it and it doesn’t need it. And this depends on cultures also. In China, people like a lot of things on the package. I don’t know why; they just want a lot of copy and every space has to be filled. But that’s not the same everywhere else. So you also have to know your audience. If your audience doesn’t want a lot of things, then keep it simple in the sense that this is what my audience likes, this is what I’m going to do. Don’t overthink it. Excess packaging, that’s another mistake people make and is bad for everyone. Consumers respond negatively to this because there’s a lot of waste. Stores don’t want to give a lot of shelf space; it’s difficult to ship.
So again, keep it simple. No excess packaging. If you don’t need it, don’t have it. Bad placement graphics or images are the mistakes they make. If it doesn’t work, adjust it until it does or just get rid of it.
I saw a package of – this is something that I did for athletic works. I sent this out to the printer, and the printer came back and they had moved some things because they work better. And there was a hole where the little hangtag would go. It was a hangtag and the little hole where the swift tag would go, it was right in the middle of the forehead of the model. And I said, “You know what? I get it but it doesn’t work.” So the placement of graphics and images is important. and you have to against the back and look at it through other eyes, have other people look at it because you will miss things.
Blurry, pixelated images. I work with this brand and we had a photo shoot for the packaging, and we send jpegs to get approved and they sent the jpegs to the factory to be made. And then the customer complained that all the photos were blurry. They had to make a package to send to the factory with high res images and copy and everything. Pixelated images, blurry images, you have to be careful. You have to always use high res, high resolution, images when you send your files out to printers.
Another attribute, if it’s difficult to open, don’t do it. I know we’ve all been there where we buy something and we can’t find scissors to open it or a knife, and you don’t want to do that.
Nordstrom has a great box that they ship things in. It opens up, it’s reusable but it seals to the side and the front perfectly. And all it needs is a piece of tape on the top to keep it closed. So it’s very well designed. Everything is safe inside; it’s closed, there’s no tampering, but it’s so easy to open. You just take the tape off and it opens up and you have your order. It is great.
Don’t follow trend. That’s another packaging mistake people/ brands make sometimes. If the trend right now is to have brushstrokes everywhere, if it’s not your brand, don’t do it. You have to stay true to your brand. So that your brand would stand the test of time. Victoria Secret has great branding, great packaging for that. It’s black and pink stripes.
Agent Provocateur, they have great branding. They don’t follow trends. They just follow their brand and it works. And they do make adjustments every ones in a while, like Victoria Secret Pink. Every once in a while it gets a little lighter, but it’s okay. It’s still on brand. They’re flexible.
And another mistake – I think I spoke about this a little earlier – it’s white space. People are afraid of white space, and you don’t have to be. White space is good. It allows the eye to rest and travel. You have to just be open. You have to be flexible, put all the information you want on it. And if there’s white space and it looks pleasing to the eye, leave it alone. So those are the main things I think that people struggle with. But if you keep those things in mind, you should be okay.
Brandon: Are there any consumer markets that respond better or worse to certain types of packaging?
Lizziee: Well, the lingerie market responds very well to good, sturdy and well thought out packaging. When a woman buys lingerie, it’s special; when a man buys lingerie for a woman, it’s special – it is a gift either given to oneself or another. It needs to be packaged like a gift. With lingerie it’s very important to have good packaging. Think of Lonely Lingerie, they have a cream color box, soft tissue, and it’s beautiful. Lingerie D’Elia, with a white box, black ribbon in small gold accents, those are good for lingerie. So for lingerie you definitely need good packaging. It makes such a big difference and such a big impact on your customers’ loyalty. Like I said, it’s a gift. Lingerie is always a gift.
Shoes is another product where spending a little extra could increase your sales. You need a good story box again, clean design. Also shoe boxes are something that people keep to use to store things. They also use them to maintain the shoes in good condition. If possible, always add a shoe dust bag. This will make any pair of shoes instantly more valuable. Even for lingerie as well if you add a little lingerie bag – again they’re very inexpensive when you buy them in bulk – it just adds so much more value to your product. It is perceived value and it is something that I think brands should really think about.
Brandon: So now for a fun question, if a magic genie appeared, gave you three wishes so that you could change anything about the fashion business as a whole, what would those three things be?
Lizziee: Three things?! This is not in any particular order, I think quality and care of product. I would like fashion brands to design more for durability as opposed to disposable trends. There’s a lot of brands out there that they actually, are known for having disposable clothing, and it just ends up being thrown out, ends up in landfills, which brings me to my second point. Eco-friendly biodegradable packaging. Just anything that’s biodegradable, there is this new company out there, it’s called DyeCoo and they actually have water-free and chemical-free dyeing. And they are they trying to grow the company. But I think things like that are amazing. I would love for all fashion to be eco-friendly and biodegradable. I would love for everyone to have that.
I love the program H&M has – you donate your lightly used clothing and they repurpose it. DSW also started doing this last year, where you donate your lightly used pair of shoes and they repurpose them. I think that’s important for the world, and it makes fashion a lot more fun because now you’re working with things that were used before, they have a history, so we make them more special.
So that will be my second wish. Eco-friendly biodegradable fashion everywhere. And amazing packaging will be my third wish. I think that it will help any brand with customer retention, with repeat sales. It is very important to grow your brand, is very important to just maintain a culture, it’s the perfect way to do this. It’s also free marketing. You give someone a little bag with your whatever they purchase, and then they carry this bag, they will use this bag all over and it’s free marketing. Again, free marketing and the best type of marketing, the marketing that other people do for you because they love your brand.
Brandon: That is a great way to end our interview. How can people learn more about you?
Lizziee: They can go to my website, which is lizzieejerez.com. I have a lot of things in there, some of the things that I’ve actually worked on. They can contact me through my website and if they need my services, which is someone to talk to about packaging. And they do this all the time, they can just contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I’ve worked with a lot of small brands, a lot of companies, mass market and luxury and beauty and all these sorts of things. So I’m very knowledgeable and I understand the small business perspective as well as a giant like Walmart.
Brandon: Well, I would like to thank you for being on our show today. It’s been a real pleasure.
Lizziee: Thank you for having me on your show.