Mentioning clamshell packaging to consumers brings up all kinds of colorful expressions. Search for “wrap rage” on Google, and you will find a number of articles and videos demonstrating the frustrations of consumers as they outline their experiences with clamshell packaging. Long battles to get them open include sharp objects and sometimes end with trips to the hospital, all to open a simple piece of plastic packaging.
It’s no wonder why it’s confusing to understand why one would want to put their product in such a package—why would someone choose to subject their customers to a frustrating and potentially dangerous unboxing experience? The reality is there are few other packaging styles that provide as much value and functional advantage to brand owners, consumers, and retailers as clamshells do. Packaging your product in a clamshell can provide you:
- Improved sell-through
- An added layer of protection
- Limitless customization
- Differentiation from competition
- Flexibility to meet retailer demands
- Reduced product pilferage
- And can keep shoppers safe while shopping
Knowing the advantages of clamshells and how they align with your packaging goals will help you understand if this style is the right type for your product.
1. Improves Your Bottom Line
Every company has the goal of improving sales, and one of the best ways to make your brand stand out at retail is through product visibility. A study by Clemson University and Klöckner Pentaplast looked to discover which packaging styles performed best at retail by recreating a shopping environment and using eye-tracking technologies to record shopper’s eye movements. From this, they found that products displayed in a clamshell package sold four times better compared to the same product displayed in other packaging styles. The products packaged in clamshells were found on-shelf 40% faster than their non-clamshell counterparts. Along with being better sales, clamshells were fixated on almost 7 times longer than other packaging types. In a setting where shoppers make their decisions in seconds, getting your product recognized first can be the difference between a sale won or lost.
2. Provides Basic Protection
At the most fundamental level, the main purpose of packaging is to protect the item or product it is holding. With the ability to design and create a package to your product’s distinct needs, clamshells are one of the best styles for providing this protection. If you’re selling a fragile item that needs to be held in place and protected through the distribution chain, a clamshell can be an excellent option to ensure that your product is delivered safely to consumers while still providing full visibility to the product. Electronics, hardware consumables, health and beauty, and other fragile products that require extra protection are good candidates for clamshell packaging.
3. Fully Customizable
When brand owners are looking to package their product, they want to cover all the bases. Yes, fulfilling the basic need of protecting your product is nice, but at the end of the day, the success of your business depends on the ability to sell your product. The best way to do this is by promoting your product through packaging.
Your products packaging should show off the best attributes of your product. Perhaps, you want to visibly display all components and accessories, or maybe you want the customer to be able to touch and test the product without removing the packaging. The design options available in clamshell packaging can make this a reality.
With a custom clamshell package, you can have the package designed to conform to the unique dimensions of your products, so potential shoppers are always seeing your product in its best light. The wide range of customization of clamshells allow you to design your package in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes, all while providing complete product visibility.
4. Ability to Differentiate from Competition
From electronics to razors to hardware, there is a large number of categories where one can expect to find clamshell packaging. The packaging style’s presence in so many markets speaks to its great versatility and wide customization options. It is hard to find a category where this packaging style is not be a good fit, yet there are markets that do not utilize it.
Take the time to go into a store and look at the products in any category, you will notice there is usually quite a bit of similarity between competitors. Due to either tradition or an uneasiness about upsetting the status quo, many products within a given category tend to follow the category leader. However, those looking to separate their products on-shelf might consider changing the look of their packaging to provide visibility and differentiation.
If your product is in a category where all the products are in the same packaging style, switching your packaging could make your product more visible, more advanced, or differentiate the price point. And as we’ve learned from the eye-tracking study, getting your product found quickly can make a big difference in getting your product chosen over the competition.
Clamshell packaging can also be used to communicate price point. If all competitors are packaging their product in a packaging style with lower perceived value, you may differentiate your product at a higher price point through clamshell packaging. Conversely, if you are trying to be the value leader in a higher-priced category, packaging your product in a clamshell could provide you with an effective package that differentiates and communicates your value-focused price point.
5. Adaptable to Retailer Demands
The requirements of retailers should also be a factor in making packaging decisions. Some may prefer to have product hang on plan-o-grams, another’s may want to have them only stand directly on the shelf, or both.
With the versatility of the clamshell package, there is no need to compromise, designing a clamshell with hang-hole and a foot, allows you to accomplish both without the need for additional components such as hang tags, shelf organizers or trays.
6. Improved Theft Deterrence
Along with sales, packaging your product in a clamshell can save brand owners and retailers the cost from damaged product, pilferage or theft. Because it often requires more than just your hands to open sealed clamshells, they provide a great deterrent to would-be shoplifters.
As a deterrent to theft, clamshells allow retailers to keep shrinkage low and prices down, which can improve the sales of your product. They can also be naturally tamper-evident, allowing shoppers and store employees to tell if a product or its packaging has been interfered with. For those selling products that are susceptible to theft such as razors or many small or valuable items, clamshell packaging offers excellent protection against petty theft and tampering.
7. Keeps Consumers Safe
Protection also means protection for shoppers. Products that can present danger to shoppers—such as knives, scissors, and other sharp objects—are wise to safeguard until the consumer gets them home. One of the best ways of going about this, while still making the product visible, is to encase the product in a sealed clamshell. This packaging option lets the shopper view the product and its benefits while minimizing the risk of a shopper injury.
A Useful Packaging Type for Multiple Stakeholders
Depending on the goals you have for your brand’s packaging, clamshell packaging may be the perfect fit for your product. Inventor Thomas Jake Lunsford patented the first prototype for clamshell packaging back in 1976. The primary objective he listed for his invention was to “provide a separable packaging and display system” as well as “to provide a readily usable display carton that is simple and inexpensive to manufacture.” Since then, the objective of this packaging style has evolved and expanded, but the main goals of providing brand owners with an accessible packaging type that allows their product to be displayed visibly on-shelf remains true to this day. This benefit, along with increased protection, full customization, product visibility, meeting retailer demands, and keeping shoppers safe is why clamshell packaging has been useful in many markets for the past 40 years.
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