Opinion: Toy packaging is dead, long live toy packaging

High streets are under threat. There seems to be another big name closing its doors every week. A perfect storm of rising costs, global economic turmoil and new shopping habits are having a huge impact.

With increasing competition for decreasing shelf space retailers want guaranteed sellers – the big brands drive footfall but muscle out smaller and emerging brands. And we’ve radically changed the way in which we shop, visiting high streets less. No wonder there are fewer requirements for packaging.

This is not a nostalgia trip; it won’t go back to the good old days. New consumer shopping habits should be embraced, used as an opportunity to create a greater connection between brand and consumer.

Toy packaging has always followed a formula – a big logo, descriptor and image. Designed to attract consumers, “look at me and buy me”. A layout that has worked well since branded products first appeared shelves.

As online sales surpass traditional ones it makes sense that toy packaging should evolve. The YouTube type influencer means that kids are initially exposed to a product minus the packaging. The role of traditional packaging isn’t as important in this new “sales” environment. It’s time to ditch the old packaging of yesterday and look to the future.

But how can this be achieved?

Packaging created for the web needs optimising for viewing on small screens. A gallery of multiple images provides all-around viewing, showing features, what’s included, scale, and even exciting video content!

It’s possible to blur the lines between the real and virtual worlds with the clever use of technology. Augmented Reality gives a real-world image before the box is open. Increasing engagement and interaction, a much richer brand experience helping up the perceived value of a product. Seeing a product come to life before your eyes are simply magical it feeds the imagination and shows the brand to be relevant, even if the product is not.

It doesn’t stop there. Once purchased and delivered the packaging has the opportunity to create some real theatre by extending the play value of the product – imagine a radio controlled car where the box could turn into a stunt ramp or a garage. So much more engaging and it all helps build the brand experience.

Packaging no longer just needs to be there for shipment and protection. Extending its use beyond its primary purpose will also help to reduce the stigma surrounding the excessive and wasteful use of materials.

Advancements in print technology mean that shorter bespoke print runs can be produced allowing brands to create targeted and personalised packaging. Ideal for those with multiple and very different audiences.

It’s also important that packaging shouldn’t be considered alone; it needs to be part of a complete brand approach, part of a brand’s strategy and wider marketing campaigns.

It’s an exciting time for packaging and I’m really looking forward to the challenges ahead. There’s an opportunity to extend brand values and engage consumers in new exciting ways.

So I’d like to revise my title to read: Toy packaging is dead – long live toy packaging!

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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