As I walk down the aisles of a store, I often notice something that’s annoying: packages that were opened. The product is still inside. In many cases, the packaging is still in good condition. This represents a failure in packaging design.

Let’s reconstruct what must have happened. A customer thought about making a purchase, couldn’t examine the product thoroughly and opened the package to find out more. If a buyer has to go through that then the product package design has failed. The impulse to buy has been dulled. Package design has to be done so the buyer instantly recognizes what he wants when it’s a specific brand or a particular type of product.

Product package design has to be done using all the available tools. The easiest is probably to have an image of the product on the package, but I believe customers distrust those images. They’re likely to open the box for comparison. A better choice would be a cut-away with a clear panel that allows them to see the product. If possible, the package design should do away with the panel so the buyer can touch the product.

Those are just a few of the physical remedies, but I think the real solution is about branding. Better packaging design might have prevented people from opening some of these boxes, but if the connection between the brand and the packaging was firmly in place they wouldn’t have done it. They would have grabbed it off the shelf and gone on to the checkout counter. That instant action by the buyer is the true test of successful packaging design.