The Function of Form: The Rise of Reusable Packaging

By Jay Saenz / Oct 25, 2016



VOSS water bottles make a statement. While recently perusing the water aisle at my local grocery store, VOSS’ sleekly designed, uniformly cylindrical bottles definitely stood out from the crowd. I bought six bottles while shopping, and if I’m being honest, that purchase had very little to do with the water inside.

It did, however, have everything to do with Pinterest. 

See, recently as I was looking at a few pins from friends, I noticed several VOSS bottles that were being reused as containers, infusers, and even a chandelier. And now that I have my own bottles, I plan on using them to store dried pasta—altogether not a bad deal for $2.69 a bottle.

Packaging Voss 1


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  • Typically, I buy one or two bottles of water every few months, but in that one shopping trip I walked out with six. And I’m not the only one—according to research conducted by market intelligence agency Mintel, 63 percent of consumers view reusable packaging as a key decision-making factor.

    Consumers’ desire for reusable packaging is growing rapidly, and companies are finally starting to notice. VOSS recognizes this trend and promotes DIY projects with their bottles via their social media platforms. 

    Packaging as a Product

    Joolz is a company best known for their award-winning strollers. But the company is also known for something else—amazing packaging. Here’s what their website says about their packaging: “Every box—from the pushchair itself, as well as every accessory—can be transformed into a practical and beautiful product for children to play with or for decoration in children’s rooms.”

    Joolz’ boxes unleash the power of their customer’s creativity and have been used to make elephants, bird feeders, lamps, chairs, and so much more. The company uses packaging to engage with consumers, asking them to submit ideas about the creative things they make with the packaging and to share these creations online. 

    Nothing Wasted

    Shopping bags can sometimes seem like a wasteful part of purchasing products. They have such a short lifespan—from the mall to your car, then what? Now, I’m not saying bags can’t be fun or useful. We’ve all seen our share of clever bag designs that highlight a brand’s quirkiness. I personally like Lego’s new shopping bag that makes it look like you have a Lego hand—but that bag hardly falls into the category of reusable or useful.

    Packaging Lego 1

    image from

    Lee, on the other hand (pun intended), created the “Never Wasted” bag, a shopping bag that can be turned into a ruler, board game, or pencil holder. Even the bag’s strings can be used as shoelaces. Just how successful is reusable packaging like this? According to a statement released by Lee for the Spike Asia Awards, Lee’s bags did extraordinarily well:

    “Within 48 hours of its release, the bag went viral on major social networks. It was also featured as the pick of the day in over 25 leading design and advertising websites, including 2nd spot in AdCritic’s coveted ‘Pick of the day.’ Consequently, footfall increased and the initial production of 3,000 bags went on to another 10,000.” Not bad for a paper bag, eh?  

    Packaging Lee


    Time to Redesign

    From the examples above, it’s not hard to see that packaging matters in more ways than we think. Sure, packaging will always maintain its tried and true roles of keeping products safe, attracting customers, and so forth. But these days packaging can do so much more—and it should.

    Just the idea that customers are keeping packaging for the long-term and using them in creative ways is a big deal. Not only does this keep your brand top of mind, it helps create ongoing relationships with your customers.

    Is it time for your company to redesign its packaging? If sustainability and reusability are at the heart of your company’s values, then the answer is most likely yes.  

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    Jay Saenz

    Jay believes it's all about creating mutually beneficial relationships. With more than five years' experience in nonprofit development/underwriting and 13 years in direct sales, Jay specializes in finding the right match between an organization's purpose, audience and prospective partners. You won't mind taking his calls because his sales process is noticeably absent of slime—it's built on strategic collaboration, communication and teamwork.

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