Top Considerations When Designing DTC Packaging

The brave new world of direct-to-consumer means almost anything can be delivered anywhere at anytime. As we become DTC natives, we are growing accustomed to gaining a branded service in addition to the physical products we buy. Yet, whilst the digital experiences are usually seamless, on brand and only a few swipes away, the physical reality surrounding what arrives at our door is still lagging behind.

Saturday night was Deliveroo night. I fired up the App and was treated to a seamless user experience. Location services ensured tailored choices. Intuitive UI made locating and browsing my food choice easy and intuitive. The ordering system and phones finger print recognition integrated to make payment quick and painless. And with the reassurance of regular status updates, hungry mouths were kept in check. And then the order arrived and the positive experienced stopped: poor presentation, tepid food, and leaking, uninviting containers. The result: one frustrated consumer having to salvage his mushy peas from the bottom of the bag.

Sound familiar? This is all too common.

Whilst Deliveroo may simply be providing the portal and technology, this same sense of un-fulfilment and disconnect from the high expectation created by the service is not unusual. For every Mr. Porter, Graze or Dollar Shave that controls the end-to-end consumer journey there are ten other DTC brands who fall into the same trap, believing the relationship with their consumers stops after the digital transaction is complete. Understandably, a successful DTC brand does not come without logistical investment and the digital experience as first impression is key. However, to create real advocates through a valuable exchange, the moments of delight must continue throughout the service and the physical must not be neglected.

Mr Porter et al, understand the importance of continuing the high level of expectation they’ve set through their digital offering and UI. From Mr Porter’s delivery drivers, their bespoke shopping bags, to the personalised labels and tissue wrapping, they create a sense of anticipation, individuality and a promise fulfilled. Similarly, brands like Birchbox and Garcon Wines are carefully considering how to design their products so that they are part of the service and emotionally consumers’ sense of anticipated is met.

Packaging does not (and should not) have to be the low bar when entering into the DTC world. The great challenge for designers is to find ways to delightfully and functionally bring the brand and experience to life through the physical packaging. And importantly do this within budget and production limitations. The physical product delivery has a real opportunity to create consumer advocates and underpins the idea of DTC being a valuable exchange. At Echo these problem solving design challenges are what gets us excited each day.


Top considerations when designing DTC Packaging:


1. Continue your brand story and experience seamlessly from digital to physical.

Do your brand assets translate from digital? Do they work equally well across physical mediums. Do you know what your physical design language is?

2. Use packaging to fulfil the sense of anticipation.

How can your packaging do more than just ensure a healthy transit? How can it delight and emotionally fulfil the sense of anticipation?

3. Use packaging to make consumers lives easier.

Packaging can be designed to bring order, ease and direction to how consumers interact with products. Rather than overwhelming the consumer use packaging to enlighten. Materials, structures and sealings can be designed to help or indulge.

4. Think flexible, sustainable and not for the shelf!

There is a fundamental difference between designing packaging for in-store and designing packaging for DTC. DTC Packaging is part of a service, not part of a supply chain. Consider how pack and product can work seamlessly and be designed to be delivery savvy so that over-packaging is not always necessary. 

5. Create a valuable exchange.

DTC brands need advocates and engagement that result in feedback, communities and repeat business. The way your pack is designed to arrive will drive this.

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