In the last few decades, the conception of custom packaging boxes has shifted from considering them merely as a means of transportation, protection, and conservation to a whole brand experience device. In fact, some high-end brands and sellers have started calling custom packaging the "permanent media" or "last five seconds of marketing." Some even advocate including the packaging as the fifth "P" in the traditional marketing mix of price, product, promotion, and place.

Today sleeve packaging is considered a decisive element in marketing and branding. It serves a range of functions such as value creation, persuasion, brand, and product communication and is an essential element in experience design. Most importantly, customized packaging is multisensory because consumers see, touch, hear, smell, and sometimes even taste it (as in edible packaging). 

With this in mind, branding, packaging, and marketing experts in multisensory marketing are now increasingly considering the multisensory aspects of custom packaging as a means of transforming consumers' search behaviors, preferences, interactions, expectations, and usability, and their perception of the product itself.

Visual modality of Custom Sleeve Boxes

Until recently, most branding and marketing practices have focused on the visual modality of custom packaging boxes. This comes as no surprise, given that packaging shape, color, typeface, and imagery are critical for product identification and experience. For example, The Legacy Printing's team of packaging experts suggests that unusual packaging colors, relative to the product category, can help a brand stand out on the shelf. They further suggest that using congruent product colors can help consumers' find the product faster (say, using red when searching for ketchup-flavored crisps or brown when searching for chocolate chip cookies in custom cookie boxes), and in turn, enhance the fluency with which the consumer can process them.

Packaging sounds can become key brand differentiators

In the last couple of years, a significant increase has been noticed in recognizing the significance of other sensory aspects of customized packaging, such as its sound, textures, smell, etc. After all, packaging sounds can be diagnostic. Just think of how consumers or buyers sometimes shake packages of cookies, biscuits, or even breakfast cereal in order to hear how much of the food product is left. 

On the other hand, packaging sounds are becoming key brand differentiators (for example, in the distinctive sound of the Snapple bottle top, the clinking sound of a rigid box hinge, or a whooshing sound of sleeve packaging). Here, The Legacy Printing suggests the brands and sellers to stay careful when considering the different sensory aspects of product packaging because it is possible that one "overloads" the consumer with too much sensory information. This is known as sensory overload. For example, Frito-Lay's Sun Chips biodegradable and compostable packaging in 2010 was uncomfortably loud as per the consumers. This product ended up in a drop in sales, and the new packaging format was soon withdrawn from the retail shelves, never to be seen or heard from again.

Interaction by touching the product

Touch also offers a key packaging touchpoint. Consumers nearly always touch and haptically explore the custom packaging boxes while they interact with a product. For example, heavier cookie packaging boxes positively influence the perceived quality of the product. They also affect the intensity of fragranced products. However, there are various other tactile aspects of packaging that can influence the consumer experience, such as, for example, the roughness or smoothness of the surface texture, as well as its material properties. Some known brands and sellers have even gone beyond and have aimed to develop signature packaging that can be identified by touch.

As yet, olfactory-enhanced and edible packaging is relatively underexplored and, in most brands cases, not-tried territory. However, there is an increasing interest in how the senses of smell and taste can be efficiently simulated in packaging design. For example, a few years back, PepsiCo patented an aroma delivery system. It used encapsulated aromas in the PET bottles' necks. As far as edible packaging is concerned, there are examples, like KFC's partnership with Seattle's Best Coffee to release an edible coffee cup.

In a nutshell, the packaging box's texture or surface plays a crucial role in stimulating instant sales. Embossed, stripy, textured, gloss, or matte, each surface has its own effect on customer's purchase decisions and product perception. A lip gloss box will look best in a vibrant colored packaging box with a shiny and glossy surface. A perfume box will look best in a matte box. There are no absolute rules for the texture and surface of the packaging boxes. You can always choose and design them according to your product, consumer preference, and brand theme. 

How to design the ideal multisensory packaging?

According to multisensory marketing and packaging experts, it is vital to consider the following points while designing the perfect multisensory custom cookie boxes

1. Most of our everyday experiences are multisensory, and, as such, different senses and their interaction mechanisms must be considered when designing packaging experiences. Furthermore, it is essential to consider how the senses interact since it can help you in maximizing processing fluency. Sensory incongruency can also work, but it is a trickier marketing and packaging strategy to pull off successfully. However, there is no absolute rule, and you can always choose a packaging strategy that goes well with your brand story and consumer preferences.

2. Make sure that you never overload your consumers with sensory information. Instead, work on finding the optimal configuration of the available sensory information. If you are a high-end brand with a high marketing budget, you can conduct a survey to get to know the consumers' preferences in multisensory packaging.visit it. 

3. Prototyping and studying different multisensory packaging with consumers in order to identify the ones that help brands and sellers reach their specific brand objectives, building on the latest insights from neuroscience-inspired packaging design. This can be done by capitalizing on simulations or online testing methodologies to efficiently and rapidly evaluate a number of potential packaging design solutions.