Packaging: the fifth P of marketing?

Product packaging is often an afterthought for many companies. Some think of it as a necessary evil, while others simply don’t have the time or resources to do it right. Whatever the case may be, companies that overlook their product packaging are wasting valuable time and money.

Packaging isn't just a box. It's a central part of how customers connect with and perceive a brand, so it should be important to all companies that use packaging as part of their marketing strategies. Packaging is often the first point of contact between consumers and your brand, so it's essential to consider what that first impression means — especially if you want them to come back again.

The marketing mix

Neil H. Borden, former president of the American Marketing Association, noted that savvy companies consider their packaging as part of the marketing mix — a concept that is still valid today. While Borden used the term “marketing mix” in the middle of the 20th century, it's just as relevant to modern businesses. The tools of the marketing mix are timeless — and well-placed in an ever-changing economy.

The original 4 P's of marketing, developed by Neil H. Borden, consist of: People, Product, Price and Promotion. These four distinct elements are the cornerstones of marketing and business strategies. They determine how well a company will do in the marketplace — factors that have to be just right for a product or service to succeed.

Here we take a look at the original 4 P’s of marketing in more detail;


A product can be anything you want it to be. It's the combination of function and aesthetic that makes a product useful and desirable. Marketers have to watch their industry carefully to be sure their products are still relevant and desirable in the eyes of consumers.

Products are items that satisfy wants and needs — they are made to help people solve a problem, or to entertain them in some way. A product goes through what is known as a “product life cycle,” which means that marketers must find ways to make their products relevant despite changes in the marketplace.


Pricing is an art. At its core, pricing is about math. A great price can be thought of as a little bit of magic. The art of pricing is knowing what the market is willing to pay for your product or service. Pricing isn't about simply setting a price as high as you think it will go; it's about building demand and perceived value of your product.


Promoting products effectively is the key to increasing sales. Today's customers are bombarded with advertisements daily, but that doesn't mean they can't be reached. Using a mix of traditional strategies such as television ads, print campaigns and cold calls, and more modern techniques such as online video and social media marketing, marketers can ensure their products stand out.


Whether your product is available online or in a physical store, location is a major factor in marketing mix. If a product is available in numerous outlets across the country or across the world, your brand's potential to grow in reach and visibility increases.

The 5th p: packaging

The original marketing mix theory featured four Ps — product, price, place, and promotion. However, some experts have added a fifth P: packaging! Packaging is a crucial component of the mix because it affects every other P.

Marketers have become a lot savvier over the years. Even in Neil Borden's original discussion of the marketing mix, he noted that packaging is as important to marketing efforts as any other element in the mix. It affects how consumers interact with, perceive, and use a product. The same is true for other elements of the marketing mix — if your packaging doesn't have what it takes, you won't achieve your business goals.

Packaging enhances a customer experience by communicating the brand's story and conveying the value of its products. In this way, it's both a marketing tool and an enabler for sales — it provides a physical manifestation of your brand ethos, allowing customers to engage with your brand before even touching what you're selling.

Packaging is a vital component of any brand’s marketing campaign, and the more you understand packaging’s potential, the more you can do with your packaging to boost sales, introduce products to a wider audience, and increase awareness. Good packaging can help businesses convey their unique identity in an increasingly competitive market. The fifth P in the marketing mix is packaging.