In the consumer's mind, the package is the product. For many products, the physical configuration embodies the brand's visual identity. Its structure and materials contain and protect the product and permit it to be transported. They also provide the physical surface on which the brand design exists.
Consumers regularly scrutinize packaging materials for their “greenness”: the use of recycled content and end-of-life issues such as their ability to be reused and/or recycled.
In the retail environment, the packaging structure supports the product's shelf life and presence and provides tactile qualities and protective features, all of which affect the product's initial consumer appeal. The structure ultimately resides in the hands of the end user, where it performs ergonomic tasks, including opening and closing, dispensing, and safely storing the product (fig. 3.62). Materials' sustainability (or lack thereof) should be considered at the onset of every design assignment.
Packaging structure and choice of material are based on the answers to the following questions: