Saturday, June 27, 2009

How Important is Pretty Packaging to You?

A few days ago I posted the following question in the Etsy forums:

"I've seen several posts advising people to use pretty packaging with ribbons, fabric bags, etc. I've also read that one should include pictures of their packaging in the listing...So, what do you think? Does pretty packaging make you want to buy again? Is it worth the extra cost to you? Also, as a buyer, do you care about seeing pictures of packaging in the listings?"

There were over 100 responses to this post, and the results caused me to rethink my own packaging strategy. Fifty people stated that attractive packaging was very important to them; thirty-one stated that it wasn’t important to them, and twenty people stated that pretty packaging was nice, but not really necessary.

For the most part, the "not important" and "nice" responses sited concerns over reducing waste and expense. Not surprisingly, everyone agrees that pretty packaging is worthless if the items are not well protected. All of the ribbons in the world won't make up for receiving something that was damaged en route.

I also found that nearly everyone believes that some sellers go overboard with the pretty packaging. One poster complained of having her purchase wrapped in so many ribbons and tape that she struggled to get it open.

A reoccurring theme throughout the thread was that packaging should be minimal, but pretty, elegant, or colorful. Many people expressed a preference for environmentally-friendly ("green") packaging – if it can be green and pretty, even better.

Many people who showed a strong preference for pretty packaging stated that it would influence their decision to purchase from a shop again. Even several of the "nice but not necessary" responses showed an inclination to buy again from a shop with nicer packaging. One poster (lovelymuch) summed it up nicely, "I'd like to say I don't care that much about packaging because I try to be eco-friendly however, to be honest, if I found 2 necklaces I liked from different sellers and one had pretty packaging and the other didn't, I'd opt for the pretty one."

Very few people commented on the practice of showing pictures of one's packaging in their Etsy listing, but all of those who did said it was not necessary. Apparently people would prefer to see another shot of the item they were buying instead of packaging.

Another interesting point that was made repeatedly in this thread is that different products require different levels of packaging. Large, fragile, and/or more utilitarian items simply need to be packed carefully, neatly, and safely in clean materials. Jewelry and other luxury items require a higher level of packaging. Throwing a pair of earrings into a bubble envelope is not acceptable; and the more expensive the jewelry, the nicer the packaging should be.

Finally, one poster pointed out that several studies have shown that packaging has a strong influence on a buyer's perceived value of the product. Basically, customers are willing to pay more for products with nicer packaging. (This whole concept is incredibly interesting and will be the subject of a later blog post from yours truly.)

So, to sum up, here is what I gleaned from that thread:

- It is worth my time to create attractive packaging for my items.
- This packaging needs to be simple, green, and inexpensive, yet elegant.(Being reusable is a nice plus.)
- A handwritten thank you note is essential (I have always included this anyway).
- Extra little gifts are not necessary.
- I do not need to include a picture of the packaging in my Etsy listing; although I will be describing it in my shop policies, to let people know how much of my packaging is recycled, upcycled, and green.

Thank you to everyone who commented on that thread, I found it interesting and very useful. More to come on the packaging issue…


  1. I always decorate my outgoing 11 x 14 envelopes with magazine collages. The tape strengthens the paper envelope, the magazine would get thrown in the recycle bin, and they look so nice. The plain white envelopes look so boring to me now that I have to decorate them. My customers love the way I decorate their packages.

  2. That's a cute idea, SnappyShop. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Very interesting and helpfull!
    Thank you so much.

    What i do question myself: what actually is eco friendly packaging? I always recycle wrapping papers, but is it neccesary to only buy eco friendly wrapping papers etc.?
    (Maybe a stupic question, but i was just wondering what people really mean by the term eco friendly...)

    Have a great day!

  4. That's a good question Mila. I think it means different things to different people, depending on how far they want to take it. Being a packrat, I have a large stash of supplies that I've picked up at yard sales, thrift shops, etc. Part of being eco friendly to me is using stuff that other people would have thrown out, instead of buying new.

  5. Fantastic Findings, Thank-you for taking the time to post this!

  6. Awesome! Thanks for the advice! When I get pretty packaging it makes me feel sprecial and like I actually got in from someone and not a big company.

  7. Hi Sandra! What an interesting post. I have been using the photo envelopes from the waste-not center and also i like to use recycled brown paper bags tied with a ribbon for packaging. normally, i will then enclose the little package in button wrap, and then put that into a bubble wrap envelope. for cards, i'll recycle flat pieces of cardboard to keep the envelope stiff and flat. So far, no one has said their items arrived damaged. i worry about it.

    if i had taken your poll, i would say pretty packaging is nice but as long as my item is packaged to be well protected in transit, i'm happy.

  8. Hi Cindy. Thanks for stopping by! Knowing how special you make everything look, I have no doubt that your packaging is beautiful and functional.

  9. Very good! Thanks for a great post in the forums and now on blogpsot! I find lots of ideas too in the Flikr Etsy Packaging Pool. Amazing ideas. Amazing sellers! Thanks again!

  10. Interesting post.. I have all my items nicely wrapped although I do not post pic of the packaging. It's good to know how others think nonetheless! Thanks for sharing. :)


  11. I *love* the simple but elegant packaging that you're using Sandra, and wouldn't change a thing... except that you left out one of my pair of seahorse earrings. I'm only bringing it up here in case you don't check your Etsy e-mail tonight. Halp!

    The citrine earrings are GORRRRGEOUS as advertised, the one pair of seahorses is even BETTER looking than advertised, but I needed that second pair for my friend in Ohio's birthday on October 1st. Again, I implore: HALP!

    And do NOT waste money on extraneous packaging, WHEN THE PRODUCT IS THIS GOOD. The lovely little recycled-paper envelopes with the rafia ties was FAR more packaging than I was expecting, as most of my online purchases are lucky if they've got BUBBLE-WRAP. But your jewelry is SOOO damned good, it does NOT need to be propped-up or eclipsed by overdone marketing or packaging. The work stands on its own, and then some!