Transit Packaging: Engaging consumers at home


As global online sales continue to rise to account for approximately 11.9% of global annual purchases, retailers are investing more than ever in their e-tail portals, sales mechanisms and online marketing efforts.*

Here at Design Activity, we’re busy supporting our clients in anticipating these changes to identify ways to make their visual assets work harder for their brands.

In this thought piece, we talk about the value of building consumer anticipation in transit and at the unboxing stage. With sustainability issues forcing FMCGs to rethink their packaging solutions, the opportunity to engage consumers in transit and at the unboxing stage poses an interesting challenge for many of our clients.

The online/offline gap

Online retailers are increasingly considering the online/offline gap: the space between the customer committing to a product in an online environment and the moment the item emerges from its packaging and lands in the consumer’s hands. It is in this space that customers translate available brand assets into what a product will really look, feel, taste and smell like, and how it will function in the context of their lives. In other words: consumer anticipation.

Building anticipation

Brands tend only to acknowledge purchaser anticipation during the website and package design processes, often overlooking the potential for engagement beyond these points of interaction. But with online retail – or e-tail ­– now accounting for approximately 11.9% of global purchases (and forecast to rise to 17.5% by 2021)*, both online and physical assets need to work harder than ever to not only provoke excitement but to establish a relationship between the brand and the consumer across multiple channels.

That’s where we come in…

Consistency is key when it comes to messaging across different points of consumer interaction. From viewing the product or brand online to interacting with it in-store or receiving the item at home, whatever route a consumer uses to access the brand and however they physically encounter the product, there should not be any variation in customer expectations.

This is particularly the case with FMCGs; with the rise of online grocery services such as Ocado, product packaging needs to sparkle both on the screen and the shelf – as well as be robust enough to handle transit challenges imposed by online shopping.

The ‘unboxing ceremony’ is a significant part of the culture of a brand, particularly in the tech sector, but also across many other markets. Packaging continues to build on the customer’s anticipation and perception of the brand. But it’s not just the primary packaging that companies should be thinking about; a recent study found that transit packaging is not currently being used to its full potential. This is largely because customers simply do not expect anything other than sturdy packaging (usually brown corrugated cardboard) that will protect their purchase during its journey. Research has shown that when retailers do take the opportunity to exceed expectations and do something a little different, buyers assign greater value to the item and, ultimately, to the brand.

Source: Statista 2018