The Evolution of Packaging Design Includes What’s Inside the Box

Tuft & Needle Mattress in a Box

Packaging drives a variety of business decisions—including what’s inside the box.

With consumers increasingly demanding both convenience and sustainability, businesses are turning to packaging innovation as a way to address their customers’ needs. Sometimes that innovation flips the traditional script, putting packaging in the front seat alongside products to drive business decisions. By taking a holistic approach and integrating product and packaging designs, brands can get creative in ways their customers will appreciate.

Sustainable and Convenient Packaging Innovations Matter to Consumers

According to a 2019 Accenture survey of 6,000 consumers in 11 countries across North America, Europe and Asia, 83 percent of respondents said it’s important for businesses to make products that can be reused or recycled, and 55 percent perceive paper packaging as the most environmentally friendly packaging.

Furthermore, consumers’ growing desire for convenience in every aspect of their lives is on the rise—and that includes the packaging their goods arrive in. “Consumers are feeling more stretched than ever before, and are increasingly striving for convenient solutions which help to simplify their busy lives,” reports the The Nielsen Company’s study “The Quest for Convenience.”

Packaging in a Circular System

With sustainability and consumer ease in mind, some brands are making strategic changes to the box and to what’s inside it. Enter: the bed in a box.

Tuft & Needle, a U.S.-based direct-to-consumer mattress and bedding brand, set out to improve the customer experience when shopping for mattresses, says Aaron Whitney, the company’s vice president of product and architecture. Whitney says Tuft & Needle’s packaging plays an influential role in its products’ designs, like that of its mattresses. The company’s goal was to create a product, packaging solution and delivery method focused on convenience.

“In the past, mattress delivery often involved a scheduling battle or waiting game, but we were able to design a quality product that can be compressed into a small box and shipped immediately,” Whitney says. “We do encounter constraints presented by packaging materials and shipping methods, [like] weight limits, but we believe those constraints have helped us create a better product. We’re forced to reduce excess, which benefits our customers in the form of lower costs, clear product benefits and quality material choices.”

In addition to convenience, cries for sustainability are inspiring brands to evolve packaging design. Whitney says that by using tried-and-true materials that can be reused and recycled, like paper, Tuft & Needle is reducing the amount of packaging and avoiding waste.

Similarly, during the 2019 Pack Expo conference in Las Vegas, Robert Testa, sales director at BillerudKorsnäs, spoke with the Paper and Packaging Board about how packagers are “challenging conventional packaging for a more sustainable future.” For example, one major sporting goods retailer recently redesigned its tennis balls to retain their liveliness outside of a pressurized can.

The rethinking of what was inside the package (the tennis balls) enabled the company to reimagine its previous packaging method and materials. Working with BillerudKorsnäs, the evolution of this packaging design came out in the form of a sustainable, octagonal paper canister.

Photo courtesy of Tuft & Needle

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