Your Packaging Doesn’t Have to Speak in Riddles

DALLe mg magazine
Illustration: DALL-E / mg magazine

“A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

Sir Winston Churchill’s immortal words often arise in my mind when I’m trying to untangle a particularly perplexing problem. The phrase, which Churchill used to describe the Nazi-Soviet pact at the beginning of World War II, also sometimes surfaces while I’m trying to open one of those consumer product packages cleverly designed to protect the goods, prevent theft … and frustrate the living daylights out of any poor soul brave or desperate enough to buy the item. I’ve often imagined packaging engineers hunched over drafting tables, cackling malevolently as they devise some new Machiavellian device with which to torture earnest consumers who simply want to use whatever is inside the infernal container. (I once spent an hour setting a pair of gardening shears free from a heat-sealed hanging package molded to fit them. Tidying the shrubs by gnawing off errant branches with my teeth would have been easier.)


Packaging shouldn’t actively thwart consumers or make them solve a mystery about what lies within. It must perform many other functions, though, especially in an industry blanketed by strict regulations. Protecting the product should be at the top of the list, as should presenting consumers with a come-hither look that makes them take a closer look. Boxes, bags, tubes, jars, bottles, tins … all of them should display ingredients lists, cannabinoid percentages, and safety and usage instructions. Containers must keep kids out while letting authorized adults of all ages and dexterities in. And, of course, a primary job of any product’s exterior trappings is to forge a bond between consumers and the brand by telling the brand’s story. Performing all those jobs in a right-sized, easy-to-transport-and-display form that is environmentally friendly is a heavy lift, especially when many packages are discarded almost the moment they leave the store.

That’s why so many brands are beginning to embrace durable, also called reusable, packaging. In addition to recycling, repurposing empty containers is one of the best ways to support a healthy planet. For consumers, there’s an extra benefit: Reusing a box, jar, or tin is much less expensive than buying a purpose-built storage container or dispenser. Brands benefit, too, especially when the container is attractive. Beautifully branded bottles like Maison Bloom’s, for example, make charming bud vases. Bright jars like Jerry Garcia Wellness’s spark joy every time they’re pulled from a drawer, and metal tins from brands like Aerīz are perfect for corralling small office supplies. And every time a consumer pulls out an intentionally designed, repurposed container, they’re reminded of the brand. That’s guerilla marketing, folks.

Exceptional products and the consumers who use them deserve exceptional packaging. Keep that in mind for your next launch.

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