Eco-friendly packaging design – Ultimate 5 steps guide

In times of greater competition and interchangeable products, high-quality packaging design is becoming the ideal way for premium brands in particular to stand out from the competition.

In addition to a noble look and feel another decision criterion has recently come to the fore front for consumers: the sustainable design of product and packaging.

As a result, manufacturers of premium products must quickly adapt to the changing demands so that the image of the brand continues to match the customers’ perception of quality. This is the conclusion reached by a number of neuroscientific studies, according to which packaging makes a significant contribution to the quality perception of consumer goods.

So if the packaging is not convincing, the image automatically suffers. For this reason, premium and branded companies should take the increased importance of sustainability into account in their packaging design. The more they succeed, the greater their advantage over competitors who have not yet recognized this.

Sustainable Product Packaging in 5 steps: Content Overview

1. Why use sustainable product packaging at all?

2. Where does the increasing demand for sustainable packaging come from?

3. How can you score points with your customers with sustainable packaging?

4. The combination of design, materiality and printing technology

5. Packaging experience also extremely important in e-commerce

6. 5 steps to packaging design: implementation in detail

7. Conclusion – how brands benefit from sustainable design packaging



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1. Why use sustainable product packaging at all?

If you want to survive as a premium supplier in a highly competitive consumer goods market (e.g., beauty and luxury foods), you cannot ignore ecological aspects and should communicate this clearly to the consumer.

It is important that there is always a balance for the customer between the “look & feel” and the price level of the respective product. For example, a high-quality product in cheap packaging will not work, because for customers the quality does not match its visual and haptic presentation.

This is one of the reasons why the print and packaging experts at Seismografics know from their collaboration with neuroscientists that external presentation is a decisive purchase criterion for consumers. Accordingly, higher prices can only be achieved if the “external” quality matches the product content.


2. Where does the increasing demand for sustainable packaging come from?

Sustainability has become a global trend, which offers companies great opportunities if they align their product range with this topic.

This is because consumers are not only paying more and more attention to the environmental aspect, but they are also willing to spend more money on these products and services.

That’s why Seismografics has established a line of sustainable packaging options. With our Ecovaganza Box, we show what sustainable solutions are possible that at the same time meet the highest demands in terms of design, printing, look and feel.

In this way, Seismografics makes the sustainability of brands and products physically tangible for consumers. To get your own impression, you can order the Ecovaganza Box and our case study on sustainability free of charge here.


3. How can you score points with customers with sustainable packaging?

The growing importance of sustainability means that it is no longer enough to simply launch a nobly designed package to help a product succeed. If, in addition, the brand wants to highlight a sustainability aspect, ecological considerations must of course be taken into account not only in the ingredients and production processes, but also in the packaging design.

This is done by ensuring that the paper, inks, printing technology and fillers used in production and disposal have a minimal impact on nature.

For this reason, anyone who is openly committed to sustainability and wants to communicate this to the outside world in their marketing should put every packaging component to the test and check it for its sustainable suitability. The Seismografics team specializes in working with its clients to find appropriate solutions, while at the same time not losing sight of the provider’s overall economic goal.

Because when it comes to sustainability, inaccuracies and inconsistencies can quickly take revenge, as customers and consumer protection organizations nowadays look closely when companies advertise the sustainability seal of their offering.

Any form of “greenwashing” can quickly turn into a boomerang if the statement and reality do not match from the customer’s point of view.

4. The combination of design, materiality and printing technology determines whether the product is perceived.

For manufacturers of physical products such as cosmetics or luxury foods, the external appearance of their product range is one of the most important distinguishing features. After all, this is where they can make the value and design image of their brand tangible in an ideal way.

Haptics and visuals are therefore extremely important in presenting the uniqueness of the product to consumers. The first thing to do is to ensure that the product is perceived in a way that makes it stand out from the rest.

Perception in itself is not everything, however, because it must also be invoke positive feelings and attributes by the consumer in order to trigger the desired purchase motivation.

This can be ensured by elaborate printing and packaging techniques and the use of high-quality materials. The inclusion of ecological aspects also ensures that the positive perception is further reinforced.

In this way, the successful symbiosis of design and sustainability in packaging design creates a USP that helps the producer, who is focused on quality and image, to gain a competitive edge.

5. Packaging experience also extremely important in e-commerce.

High-quality packaging is effective both in stationary retail and in e-commerce. After all, in online retailing, packaging design is also an important criterion for image building and purchase decisions.

And after that, whether in the store at the shelf or in e-commerce after the item has been shipped: as soon as the customer holds the product in his hands, the haptics of the packaging come into play.

This allows the manufacturer to give the customer a direct impression of the quality of the product through a high-quality “felt” packaging experience. And, if a package reflects the quality of the item, the consumer is satisfied.

In addition, a high-quality packaging solution often has an impact beyond the individual consumer. For example, there are now a large number of Instagram accounts with tens of thousands of followers dedicated solely to stylishly staged unboxing of branded products.

In online retail, the qualitative presentation also helps to mitigate any disappointment that may arise after the purchase and to noticeably reduce the return rate.

The extent to which the packaging experience influences the tendency to return goods is shown by a project conducted by Seismografics in cooperation with the Universities of Applied Sciences in Augsburg and Munich. There, the brand perception that the shipping carton creates in the consumer was analyzed and optimized using examples from various online stores. Please contact us if you are interested in the project results.

6. How the implementation works: 5 steps to packaging design

A prerequisite for success with customers is that the sustainable design language meets the taste of the target group. This is where Seismografics provides valuable support to many manufacturers, demonstrating through countless successfully implemented projects that sustainable packaging and print products can be excellently realized at a top level.

This has been recognized by many premium brands that rely on Seismografics’ many years of expertise.

However, users should have a certain flexibility, courage and decisiveness in order to arrive at the optimal solution when it comes to harmoniously combining design and sustainability. To support this, Seismografics brings experts from all fields together with the client for the creative process.

Thus, on the manufacturer’s side, experimentation and the courage to innovate are required, while Seismografics ensures that a coherent, sustainable packaging experience is created. If you would like to know how such a solution is implemented haptically and visually, you can request the Ecovaganza Box from Seismografics as a free sample.


But how can we achieve success fulsustainable packaging? In the following, we show the steps that are crucial for this.

Step 1: Packaging Development

  • The first step is to design the packaging. The size of the product and requirements in terms of the external properties of the packaging are decisive for this.
  • The latter is determined, among other things, by defined brand designs and the general requirement to design a form that saves as much space as possible and is easy to manage logistically.
  • It is of great importance that the ratio of product price to packaging meets the consumer’s expectations. Otherwise, especially in the case of branded products, packaging that is too inexpensive can quickly lead to disappointment and thus reduced buying interest.
  • For this reason, it is important to commission a developer from the very first step who takes this into account during the planning stage. The sustainability of the solution can be emphasized by including ecological aspects in the selection of the material used.

Step 2: Pattern Creation

  • After the layout of the packaging is finalized, the sampling takes place. In this process, a blank white sample of the packaging is created from the materials to be used later and sent to the client for approval in terms of external shape, stability and material.
  • In this step, therefore, in addition to the other factors, you confirm the extent to which the use of sustainable materials meets your expectations.

Step 3: Design Creation

  • Once the shape and material of the packaging are in place, it’s time to move on to graphic development and thus determine its final design.
  • Here you have various options for moving forward with the design. If sufficient in-house expertise is available, the use of an in-house design team can be considered.
  • More often, however, external specialists are called in. The cheapest option is to use platforms such as 99design, Fiverr, etc., where design freelancers offer their work. Premium manufacturers, however, usually turn to design agencies that create the desired, high-quality layout based on the sample template.
  • What the above solutions have in common is that there is a disconnect between the packaging manufacturer and the design team, as two different service providers have been commissioned with both tasks. This can lead to friction losses if, for example, the designers offer a layout that does not exactly match the dimensions of the physical sample packaging.
  • Therefore, to ensure smooth processes, it is often advisable to turn to a quality-oriented fullservice provider such as Seismografics, which offers all design and implementation steps from a single source and ensures that any legal requirements (content specifications, etc.) are met.
  • At the same time, such a provider can ensure that the issue of sustainability is given the special attention it deserves.

Step 4: Packaging Production

  • Finally, the “marriage” of packaging and design takes place in production. The design finally accepted by the customer is usually returned to the packaging developer and sample manufacturer.
  • With the help of complex folding and gluing techniques, the packaging is given the desired shape. The material required for this has usually already been printed with the desired design using inks, varnishes and films. By selecting ecologically safe inks, it is possible to ensure that the sustainability aspect is always maintained.

Step 5: Full Service Benefits

  • Even when samples and designs are passed on to final production, the more parties involved in creating the packaging, the greater the risk of complications.
  • This is another reason for using integrated service providers, who also guarantee consistently high quality throughout the entire process chain – a decisive factor not only for manufacturers of premium and branded products.
  • Furthermore, providers such as Seismografics take on additional services, such as in warehousing, packaging, logistics or fulfillment, which clients would otherwise have to commission additionally.
  • In terms of sustainability, full service companies’ expertise also enables them to ensure sustainability throughout the entire manufacturing process, from the selection of environmentally friendly packaging materials to the use of appropriate inks, coatings and films in printing. In this way, the customer ensures that his packaging has actually been created in an all-round environmentally conscious manner.

7. Conclusion – how brands benefit from sustainable design packaging

  • As you can see, the design and development of sustainable packaging is only slightly different for you as a manufacturer. However, the effects you can achieve are great.
  • It is a misconception that sustainable and biodegradable product packaging always has to look like eco cardboard. Our innovative Ecovaganza box impressively illustrates that sustainable packaging design also offers countless possibilities for high-quality design and feel.
  • Especially manufacturers and brands of high-priced products, such as cosmetics or dietary supplements, can benefit from making a statement for sustainability while still achieving a stunning packaging design.

Request your free sample of our Ecovaganza box now to see the unique design possibilities for yourself, or contact us directly. We will be happy to advise you!

Order Ecovaganza-Box sample free of charge

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