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Once viewed only as a disposable exterior with the sole purpose of encasing items, many industries are now recognising the intrinsic value of packaging within customer journeys.

Through intelligent design and elements of digital or physical interactivity, packaging can become a product itself and the biggest marketing asset a company can have, no matter the industry.

At London Packaging Week 2023, the session ‘Specialised Packaging: Product Launches that Captivate Audiences’ on the Luxury stage saw Leo Chao, founder and creative director of premium packaging company Zenpack, showcase examples of forward-thinking designs.

Zenpack’s design case studies

A case study that exemplifies Chao’s ethos of packaging that ‘serves a higher purpose’ was Zenpack’s collaboration with the region of Puglia in Italy.

The Puglia Regional Tourism Board wanted to reinvigorate its tourism following the pandemic through a campaign based on the aromas, flavours, and culture of Puglia.

In response, Zenpack designed rigid corrugated cardboard boxes in the form of an advent calendar. Printed with the days of the week, the boxes contained products ranging from a wine bottle to pasta. Recipients learned about the history and origin of each product via a preloaded tablet screen included in the box.

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Credit: Zenpack

Chao emphasised that these boxes were sent to influencers so that the packaging could ‘look outward’ and serve the marketing technique of ‘social listening’.

Another case study Chao discussed was Zenpack’s packaging for Brooklyn Robot Foundry (BRF), an organisation which offers enrichment programmes for children. They reached out to Zenpack for a rebrand and packaging refresh in order to reach a wider audience through at-home education.

Before the pandemic, online students were only a small percentage of BRF’s class participants, so they sent robot parts, tools, stickers and accessories in minimally branded cardboard boxes. But as the pandemic hit their business model flipped to e-commerce.

The result was three main boxes, a glue gun box and a mug box with an exterior sticker labelling system. Additionally, students can use the box as a stand for their tablet with an adjustable shoelace to tilt the devices’ camera as they build.

Credit: Zenpack

While such packaging innovations are impressive, Chao highlighted that packaging designers have a responsibility to focus on feasibility and advise clients if their ideas are excessive and likely to produce waste.

“When we’re talking about specialised packaging, we need to pay special attention to meaningfulness and purpose. Don’t just make something beautiful for the sake of it.”