How can Multi-Sensory Packaging Elevate your Product?

Multi-sensory packaging is far from a new concept but is still something that can really boost your product above its competitors on the shelf. Why? Because by engaging multiple senses of the consumer there’s more chance of creating a lasting impression. So let’s take a look at just how each sense can be captivated through clever packaging design…


Visual connection is usually the first point of contact between product and consumer. Research has also shown that the shape, colour and then text on a package is viewed by a consumer in that order.

The importance of look and size of packaging is something we have addressed in our blog before. To read more on this, see our previous post: Do Looks and Size Matter when it comes to Packaging? The Top Facts You Should Know.


Contrasting your style to competitors is a first approach to standing out.


Touch is usually the second sense to be engaged after sight. If you see a product on a shelf and like the look of it, you’ll probably pick it up and handle it. The aim here is to create a unique feel to the product packaging, that operates in a functional and interesting way for a consumer to recognise the brand or product by.

Some great examples of this being harnessed in a subtle way are skincare products from brands Dove and Nivea. They focus on the softness as a tactile element of their lotion bottles, giving the subliminal messaging to consumers that your skin will feel as soft as their bottles if you use their products!

A more obvious example would be Yolksbier Lager PET cans. They redesigned their traditional cans with a plastic moulded version of the body, with dimples that resemble a traditional pint glass- giving you that more rustic feeling of having your pint in a good old fashioned pub with your mates.


Interactive elements can have a more unique impression on consumers


This is often overlooked, but can have an extremely powerful effect on a consumer and be harnessed in various ways:

  1. Utilizing materials and structure that allows consumer to smell the product inside
  2. Design scent into the packaging using inks, ribbons or finishes etc.
  3. Create a “branded smell” and apply to all product packaging for consumers to recognise your brand by

A highly recognisable brand when talking about smell is Lush. They have been so successful in creating a branded smell that you can walk down a high street and know that there is a Lush store on it just from the scent floating down the street! Of course the major olfactory element comes from the products themselves, but they have also taken into account the importance of these scents when packaging, to ensure the connection is made even before the unboxing experience when ordering their products online directly to your home. 


Smell is the sense most linked directly to memory, so you can create a long-term connection between brand/product and consumer.


The key here is to think about the sounds that will be made when the packaging is opened, and refine these to create a brand-appropriate unboxing experience.

One of the most universally recognised auditory cues in terms of packaging is the “Snapple pop”; a distinctive sound made when opening a bottle of Snapple (traditionally made from glass). It was designed specifically to give consumers the sense of both security and freshness- with a “fresh” sound that tells the consumer the bottle has not been previously opened or tampered with. It’s such a key element to their branding that they even developed a plastic bottle that gives the same auditory cue when opening.

Another form of audible packaging that is growing in popularity is the use of sound chips. A sound chip can be strategically placed inside a box, which is then triggered when opened to produce a snippet of sound. This option is particularly popular with promotional packaging for events or limited edition releases. Below is an example of Nike using sound chips to promote their new football boots to aspiring professional football players.


When taking into account the sound your packaging material will make upon handling, thinner materials will create higher pitch sounds, whereas thicker materials will create sounds of a lower pitch. The sound pitch heard in correlation to a product can alter the perceived value by the customer.

A great relatable example of this is disposable plastic bottles. Think of that high pitch crinkling a very thin plastic bottle will make compared to that of a more robust plastic bottle. Which one do you expect to be more expensive? We bet it’s the second one!


Generally we wouldn’t recommend tasting packaging, particularly because you never know exactly where it has been… However, incorporating the experience of taste into packaging design has been proven to elevate the impact of a product on a consumer.

Edible packaging is something that, although not widely talked about, has been around for a while and is continuously being developed- especially now as we strive for increased sustainability. An example of this is the development of edible membranes to replace water bottles. A key factor in developing this has been to ensure the membrane doesn’t negatively effect the taste of its contents. Though there are some drawbacks such as longevity and hardiness, they have proven popular at events such as festivals and marathons. To read more on this product, check out our previous blog post; Six lesser-know Plastic Packaging Alternatives.

Another point to note is the effect that packaging can have on the perceived taste of an edible product or drink. An example of this is when Coca Cola changed their cans from red to white in 2011 as part of an initiative to raise money and awareness for endangered polar bears. Something Coca Cola had overlooked themselves, was that customers would perceive the taste of the contents to change. Infact Coca Cola received numerous complaints that their recipe must have changed as the product no longer tasted as sweet. Since then, further studies including one by Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, have been conducted and the results support that colour alone (as well as material and shape) can have an impact on perceived taste, with a trend of the colour red representing a sweeter taste.


Stop to think about how the colours, shape and use of materials used in the packaging could impact the perceived taste of your edible product or drink.

In conclusion, having one sensory cue in your packaging can elevate your product, but once you start engaging multiple senses it can really raise the bar for consumer experience. However, when designing multi-sensory packaging be sure not to go overboard or “bombard” the senses with tactless noise- sometimes it’s the more delicate and subtle cues that leave an impression. Also, remember to think about how all aspects of your design may have a knock-on effect to other senses, even when not designed to incorporate them specifically.

Looking for help on a packaging project that requires multi-sensory design elements? Why not get in touch or leave a comment below…

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