December 13, 2017

The role of structure in packaging starts with the consumer. While consumers pay close attention to the package format and design of the products they buy, brands must deeply connect in order to drive purchase decisions.

For brands to deeply connect with consumers, a unique packaging structure that not only differentiates on shelf, but also helps form and support brand identity is an important aspect of the brand experience.

Through consumer research, brands can better understand how and why a product is used, and by whom, to create a better overall customer experience.

To better guide insights, start by asking these three questions:

What does the current category landscape look like?
What are the pain-points related to packaging in this category?
How does the packaging connect emotionally to the consumer?

Watch the entire webinar here: Structural Packaging 101: Insight Driven Innovation

By conducting ethnographic interviews and consumer workshops, brands have the opportunity to further explore, develop, and potentially refine variations to a design. The earlier brands interact with consumers the better. It doesn’t always have to be through conventional methods of research, so get creative!

Upon collecting the necessary research, brands can fine-tune both the function and manufacturability of their structural packaging and look for opportunities for innovation.

What is innovation, really?

Everyone has a different view of what innovation is. It’s important to agree on how ambitious the brand wants to be and what is realistically feasible within the realms of the manufacturing constraints.

Once you define what innovation could mean for the brand, here are 4 steps to making your structural packaging dreams a reality:

Start broad, very broad. There’s no such a thing as a bad idea…most of the time!

Ping-pong prototyping. Start early and allow a fluid and iterative approach.

Collaborate early. Think beyond traditional research; rogue ethnographic encounters can bear fruit too! Remember to check in with suppliers and cross-functional teams as well.

Be agile. Every brand is different and deserves a unique and tailored perspective. We are always pushing to make sure the way we garner our insights are suited and specific to the product and consumer type.

Below is a case study of how our team leveraged consumer insight to lead the strategy for client, Eat Pak’d.

Eat Pak’d is a Chicago start-up devoted to providing healthy lunches to on-to-go families. Parents can choose to assemble their own pack in the morning before school and customize different combinations of food.


Understand consumer behavior, including but not limited to needs, usage, and experience. Develop a structural solution that appeals to consumer demographics (school-aged child and their parent), and improve breakthrough in a crowded category and create awareness for the brand.


Five initial concepts were formed and developed rapidly, visualizing and creating sketch models to quickly get a sense of the overall look and function.



If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, it might be time to start thinking about your structural design efforts:

Are you looking to reduce packaging costs?
Does the quality of your packaging need to be improved?
Is there a strong need to gain ground on the competition?
Do you have a new product launch in the pipeline?

Structural design initiatives that harness consumer insights create more appealing brand experiences. For more information on how structural design can help your brand, contact Tim James: