How Packaging Elevates Everyday Products to Luxury Treats

Strategic packaging design can elevate everyday items into little luxuries that give consumers a rewarding “treat” experience.

Peter Boosalis, Head of Strategic Packaging Design

May 10, 2024

3 Slides

At a Glance

  • Package design and messaging can transform ordinary products into treats that will attract consumers.
  • Ordinary products become gifts that reward the buyer in a moment of indulgence.

It’s one of the most popular trends on TikTok: Treating yourself with a splurge purchase that rewards you for completing a task. From making a doctor’s appointment to opening a bank account, certain aspects of adulting (and the pressures that come with them) can be difficult for Gen Zers who struggle with social anxiety in a post-pandemic world. These young consumers often turn to retail therapy to motivate themselves to tackle these stressful tasks and maintain their emotional well-being.

In today’s “treats” culture, consumers are indulging in retail therapy despite tighter purse strings, turning a blind eye to languishing economic uncertainties and spending money on themselves beyond just the essentials. These purchases, though, come with the expectation that they will provide a certain tier of experience. Social-media-savvy Gen Zers purchase not only the product for the product’s sake. They also seek out items that make them feel a certain way and offer an aesthetic that they can showcase in photos and videos — especially the unboxing event.

It’s no secret that packaging design can have an impact on consumer shopping decisions, and buyers themselves know that packaging matters. Researchers on Quad’s Package InSight team study how packaging influences shopping behaviors through the use of eye-tracking and consumer qualitative feedback. Data from these studies has shown a strong correlation between package design and purchasing decisions. In fact, while 60% of participants in Package InSight’s 2022 Craft Beer Study reported that packaging had a positive influence on their buying decisions, eye-tracking data confirmed that packaging could actually have a much greater effect on non-conscious decision making. 

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By appreciating the powerful influence of packaging and presenting products in a way that offers a rewarding and pampering experience, brands can channel the spirit of a luxury item without the expensive price tag and engage younger “treat” consumers.

Luxury package design and messaging can make your product feel special.

To be perceived as a treat, your product must have the right appearance. Brands can use package design and messaging to create memorable shopping experiences for consumers that feels like a luxurious treat.

Some ways to accomplish this with packaging include:

• Make a good first impression: Packaging that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye can make a great first impression. These first impressions may include a unique structure; a captivating color palette; a single symbol, illustration, or provocative photo-style; or a velvety touch substrate. These are examples of elements that can be used to make a product more eye-catching to consumers.

• Stand out on the shelf: The right package design can help a product stand out on the shelf. Having a luxurious look and feel with the right material and appealing color palette can be the ultimate deciding factor for shoppers to decide between competing brands. Using gloss-coated or satin premium stock for make-up products or decadent confectionery, and potentially turning to an on-trend Pantone color like the color of the year, peach fuzz, can make the difference between something that’s a treat and something that’s just ordinary.

• Promote the right message: Messaging is an important tool for brands to communicate the feeling of luxury. Language on the packaging of the product should inspire sensations of pleasure, generosity, celebration, and relaxation in consumers. This will entice consumers to perceive the product as a treat and feel inclined to purchase it for a self-rewarding purpose.

Treat consumers to an immersive experience.

Brands can treat consumers to a truly memorable experience by grabbing their attention with effective product positioning. Packaging with bright colors, unique shapes, and interactive smart quick-response (QR) codes can pull consumers into an immersive shopping experience. By piquing consumer attention, brands can entice a casual shopper to buy a product as their latest treat.

In 2024, brands need to take full advantage of consumers’ desire for little luxuries. Industry experts predict the “treats” trend will continue to gain traction throughout the year. To successfully implement the trend into a brand’s marketing strategy, it’s important for brands to remember to use the tools at their disposal and get creative to stand out. With the right positioning, package design, and messaging, brands can evoke emotion and elevate products to embody the little treats identity.

About the Author(s)

Peter Boosalis

Head of Strategic Packaging Design, Quad

Peter Boosalis is Head of Strategic Packaging Design at Quad, a marketing experience company. He has more than 30 years of experience leading brand positioning, branded package design development, and packaging program management for well-known consumer packaged goods (CPG). Boosalis owned his own packaging company for 10 years and is adept in various aspects of packaging, from design strategy and packaging trends to agency account service. Prior to joining Quad, he honed his CPG and own-brand packaging expertise at leading design agencies, doing work for brands like Publix, Family Dollar, and Land O’Lakes. Always moving forward, Boosalis firmly believes the industry continues to evolve with innovations and efficiencies that contribute to bringing better, more impactful packaging solutions to market — for both customers and consumers.

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