We’ve seen this question posed a lot lately.

Great packaging can be the front door to a great product. Sometimes the packaging is the product – think travel cargo pants that zip out of one of the pockets. Other times, the packaging is integral to the product experience, like the top-down ketchup bottle. Brands like Method or Kleenex’s Hand Towels utilize aesthetics and functionality to integrate a product more easily into a consumer’s life and home. Packaging is not just about containment. It communicates, enhances, delights, dispenses, protects and compels. We’re seeing packaging that not only contains the product but IS the product or part of it. We’re also spotting brands that use packaging as a vehicle to communicate brand and corporate principles such as sustainability.

Tube Toys is a prime example that illustrates the use of packaging as part of the product. The product (and package) was designed by London designer Oscar Diaz for Natural Products & Worldwide Co. Vehicle toys for children, the tube package contains all the parts for assembly, including the wheels, axles and stickers for labels. The package is then used for the vehicle’s body.

Other companies are using packaging to communicate their brand’s commitment to sustainability. Take Dell computers for example. Following the release of their 2012 Corporate Responsibility Report in July, Oliver Campbell, Dell’s director of procurement, announced the company’s upcoming initiatives centered on packaging – bamboo and mushroom-based packaging.

Campbell told Packaging World Magazine, “Packaging tends to be a very emotional issue for many people, and for good reason. With almost any product, the packaging is the first item associated with the product that’s discarded. So, for example, if you buy a Dell computer, there are a few people who keep the packaging, but most actually discard it. That experience of whether it can go into the recycle bin or into compost or has to go into the trashcan really starts to influence people’s perceptions. Packaging is something everybody shares. You open your refrigerator, it’s full of packaging. So it’s very ubiquitous in the lives of most people, and when they make that linkage to the environment—things like landfills, plastic in oceans, litter on the side of the highways, etc.—packaging plays a very strong role there.”

Sustainable packaging pioneers like Puma have set the tone by creating dissolvable bags and shoe packaging, and company’s like Dell are picking up on that. We expect to see more major consumer brands partner with packaging design and branding companies who understand the overall value that packaging adds to the product.

If you’re looking for an innovative packaging solution for your product, contact Kaleidosocope. What do you think? Will we see packaging be incorporated more into the product? Leave a comment below, or let us know on Twitter, @KaleidoscopeChi.