If you've ever bought something simply because the packaging of the product was just so attractive or clever you couldn't resist, then you don't need me to explain the power of packaging to create a first impression, entice customers to buy and raise the perceived value of a product.
Too often packaging used for crafts is a bit of an afterthought. You probably put an enormous amount of effort into creating your actual items so they make a great impression, but how much thought and effort have you put into the way you package and present your products to customers?
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If you doubt the value of packaging to elevate a product, check out my Pinterest board Packaging Ideas and Inspiration. I've pinned many examples of great packaging, most are either handmade or have a handmade feel. When you look at the pin board, try to imagine those products without the clever packaging. The products are lovely (Okay, the laundry soap I pinned isn't exactly "lovely" but the package is kind of cool), and the great products are made even more enticing by their effective packaging.
So, if the right packaging is what often makes the first impression, and can entice more people to buy your products, and may allow you to charge more, then it makes sense that you should put as much effort into designing your packaging as you would put into creating your products.
I haven't always felt this way. For a long time, I felt that packaging should be something that was put together as quickly as possible. I thought time spent on fancy packaging was time that just added to production costs and could be better spent elsewhere. However, after looking at many examples of beautiful handmade packaging and seeing how, when done well, it truly elevates the perceived value of a product, I've had a change of opinion. If beautiful packaging can add to your volume of sales and allow you to charge more for your items, then the time spent putting together great packaging is time well spent.
Of course there's always a need to find a balance between keeping costs low and controlling the amount of labor required to create an item. Just like you streamline your production process as much as possible without losing the quality of your work, you'll want to streamline the packaging process in the same way as well. Each business is different, so that's a balance you'll need to find for yourself. If, for example, you sell a few high-end items, you can probably easily spend a little more time on packaging because you won't have so many items to package. If, on the other hand, you sell a high volume of lower priced items, you'll probably need to really look at the efficiency of your packaging.
Whatever you choose, make sure the packaging really enhances your product; even consider it part of your product. You wouldn't sell items that weren't up to your highest standard of craftsmanship, so, in the same vein, if you consider your packaging to be part of the product, you won't let sub-par packaging drag down the perceived value of your work.
The book that completely changed my mind on this topic is "Handmade Packaging Workshop" by Rachel Wiles. It is a collection of examples of gorgeous packaging that is right at home with handmade products. After reading many case studies of artisans who have committed to the idea that including beautiful packaging is part of the process of creating their products and seeing the gorgeous results, I am convinced that the value of great packaging is well worth the effort required to create it.
Packaging Crafts for Higher Profit