Designing Packaging for DTC Brands

With more shoppers shifting to online ordering in the pandemic, brands are recognizing new opportunities to bypass retailers and sell directly to consumers. Direct to consumer – or DTC – brands have a different set of needs from traditional brands when it comes to creative assets like package design, because the packaging needs to do the work of multiple brand touch points. For brand teams that are considering going down this route, creative leaders will have to take a whole new approach to package design.


Additional Outer Packaging Can Deliver a Memorable Unboxing Experience

Products that ship directly to consumers’ homes need to have an additional layer of packaging – usually a corrugated box – to protect the product. In addition to its functional benefits, this extra layer of packaging offers lots of different creative opportunities. For example, the razor brand Harry’s® sells both directly to consumers and within retailers like Target and Walgreens. The brand has used the outer layer of packaging for limited-edition runs, such as holiday packaging, without having to touch their product’s main packaging.

This outer layer can also be used to convey product information or messaging, including in the interior of the box. Since DTC brands don’t have the benefit of display units, shelf talkers, or other assets that brands typically rely on when they sell in retail, this extra packaging space is an important tool for connecting with consumers.


Consider Including Additional Marketing Materials

Additional marketing materials that are included within the box can help deliver the kind of personal touch that is usually missing when brands bypass retailers. Project Gravitas™, for example, is a DTC fashion brand that uses hangtag inserts and stickers to recreate the personal stylist experience at home. These materials include detailed product information as well as encouraging phrases and inspirational quotes from famous women.


No matter what category a DTC brand is in, printed materials can be very useful for brand storytelling and for inspiring consumers to repurchase. DTC food brands, for example, can include recipe cards, ingredient source information, or pairing suggestions in their packaging, while cosmetics brands can include step-by-step styling tutorials or product samples.

While DTC packaging has a lot more information to convey than traditional packaging, brands that sell directly to consumers also have an opportunity to really customize the consumer experience. By using packaging strategically to tell the brand’s story and to strengthen relationships with shoppers, brands that choose to sell directly to consumers can ensure that they don’t miss out on opportunities for engagement that would typically happen at retail.


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