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  • 08 Jun 2018

Packaging plays pivotal role in e-commerce

A new study conducted by Pregis, a provider of protective packaging materials, and the University of Wisconsin (UW) in Madison shows that the value perception of e-commerce shipments is significantly impacted by the materials chosen to protect them.

The results of the study have shown, for example, how a small increase in packaging material expenditures – as little as 19 cents – can make a dramatic impact – as much as 45 percent – on the perceived value.

The study demonstrates that while the primary product package continues to be extremely important, the parcel packaging selected to translate the brand promise should be given equal consideration now that the buying experience is moving into the consumer’s home.

Page Moreau, UW professor of marketing, noted: ‘There is strong evidence that the unboxing experience impacts customers’ emotions and their perceptions of product value. When a retailer gets the unboxing experience right, they demonstrate that the product is valuable and worth protecting. Consumers recognize that signal, and it influences their perception of quality. As e-commerce continues to be the growth engine for retail, retailers and brands must understand their new showplace is the parcel packaging.’

The study included 60 participants, split into two groups of 30 each. Each group was asked to unbox the same product – a bamboo bowl, with an actual retail price of US$25. The participants were unaware of the actual cost of the bowl, so that perception could be captured. The two groups were presented with a box prepared with very different packaging. One package is described as ‘economy’, in being a plain brown box with white polystyrene foam for inside protection and clear carton sealing tape. The other package, the ‘premium’ option’, saw the product housed in a white box, clear inflated hybrid cushioning featuring a square pattern to protect the contents and soft white foam wrapped around the bowl with a ‘thank you’ sticker.  White carton sealing tape was used on the exterior. Participants only saw one version of the packaging so they were not aware that there was a different option.

After the unboxing experience, participants were asked to complete a survey which focused on expected price, likelihood to gift, unboxing emotions, packaging perception and the most likely retail outlet that the package came from. Across all attributes, the premium packaging components scored higher, including expected retail value of the product, which was 45 percent higher than the economy packaging for the identical product.

Read how the role of labels and packaging is changing as global e-commerce sales continue to grow in L&L issue 1, 2018, and here

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