When it comes to e-commerce, getting products delivered to customers safely and efficiently is generally the top priority. Interior packaging is often considered to be simply a means of securing package contents in such a way that this goal is met. But what if it went beyond this role? To answer this question, the retail packaging experts at Package InSight conducted a study, in conjunction with Seaman Paper Company, to measure the effect of interior packaging on customer perception and appreciation.

    During the experiment, 120 Clemson University alumni and enthusiasts were each given the same handmade corrugated tiger paw (the Clemson logo) enclosed in a plain brown corrugated box. The only variable that differed was the interior packaging material used, which varied by test group. Each group’s item was packaged with one of the following:

    --Branded Clemson Tiger tissue paper

    --Solid white tissue paper

    --Air pillows

    --Kraft void-fill

    Emotion-mapping technology tracked facial expressions to determine emotional responses during the initial unboxing, and participants were asked to describe their experience. Participants were then contacted either 30, 60, or 90 days later and asked a series of questions based on what they remembered about the package to help determine whether feelings about the activity and product might vary over time. This portion of the experience proved that branded tissue paper outperformed all other materials in creating an exciting, memorable experience.

    Elevates the Emotional Experience

    Tissue paper, especially when branded, immediately impressed customers more than other packaging materials. At the moment of opening the package, the tiger paw tissue elicited 47% more positive emotions than the nearest competing material. Throughout the entire unboxing experience, participants who received boxes with tiger paw tissue paper felt the most joy (60%), while those met with white tissue paper felt the most surprise (14%). Meanwhile, Kraft paper void-fill and air pillows generated the highest percentages of disgust and anger, respectively.

    Eight in 10 respondents reported the overall experience was improved with either white or branded tissue paper. These positive emotions translate into more favorable, longer-lasting brand impressions. In fact, 40% of consumers whose packages contained tissue paper recalled other luxury brands they’d previously ordered from, indicating that premier packaging is associated with high-end products. So, by enhancing the unboxing process with branded tissue paper, bands can bolster their image, thereby improving customer loyalty.

    Improves Customer Retention

    With the seemingly endless options shoppers have in today’s retail climate, maintaining strong customer relationships is crucial. The key is to satisfy shoppers at every stage of the journey, ensuring that your brand is remembered — in a good way. Tissue paper helps in this regard in that it prompts customers to remember the unboxing experience more vividly and favorably, potentially yielding more repeat purchases. In fact, when asked about their packages after 60 and 90 days, participants who received tissue-clad items described the packaging with much more detail and accuracy than those in the void-fill and air pillow groups. Furthermore, tissue paper groups had 40% greater brand and product recall than their void-fill counterparts after 90 days.

    Encourages Endorsement

    On top of positively influencing repeat purchases, tissue paper also compels shoppers to share positive reviews of a brand and its products. Three in four respondents said they’d be more likely to recommend a brand that packs contents in tissue paper. Additionally, when asked to rate their likelihood of recommending and reordering from an eTailer, participants who received tissue-clad items gave an 8/10 rating. At a time when 95% of shoppers read reviews before making a purchase, ensuring these reviews are positive is paramount to growing businesses looking to expand into new markets.

    Tissue paper can also help earn brands social media buzz. Two out of three study participants said they’d be more likely to share a photo or video of a product on social media if it were wrapped in branded tissue paper. This presents a scenario in which positive brand awareness is achieved via third-party endorsement, reaching more people, but more importantly, people who know and trust the messenger.

    Enhances Perceived Value and Quality

    Though all participants in the Package InSight study received the same item, those who received the tissue packaging perceived the item to be 24% more valuable than those who received packages with Kraft paper void-fill and air pillows. This is not surprising when one considers that 45% of online shoppers reported gift-like packaging makes a brand seem more upscale. Eighty-six percent (86%) of participants said their impression of a brand was improved upon receiving an item wrapped in tissue paper. This is especially true for branded tissue paper, as it was emphasized as a positive factor two-to-four times as much as other materials. Those who reported being more likely to reorder from brands that use branded tissue paper said it makes them feel valued as a customer and represents a high-quality product. By upgrading a packout with branded tissue paper, retailers can construct a high-end image that makes customers feel good about themselves and the brand.

    The learnings from this study emphasize just how significant a role packaging materials play in how shoppers view their experiences and the companies who create them. More specifically, the data proves that tissue paper elevates the customer’s emotional experience at the moment of unboxing, strengthens recall weeks and even months later, encourages future purchases and positive endorsements, and garners a perception of higher quality and value. Considering the relatively inexpensive cost of tissue paper, the opportunity it creates for brands to make a positive, memorable impact carries with it the potential for a remarkable return on investment.

    For more information on the benefits of tissue paper in retail packaging, view our white paper and infographic highlighting the full study.

    Steve Dalberth is Chief Innovation Office, Seaman Paper Company. Steve joined Seaman Paper in late 2018 as Chief Innovation Officer. Steve has over 25 years of experience with organizations ranging in size from startup to Fortune 500, including positions at United Technologies, Pirelli, Office Depot, and Jarden. In recent years, he has focused on utilizing his expertise in Finance and Strategy to help companies accelerate growth both organically and inorganically. He can be reached at steve.dalberth@seamanpaper.com.