By Alexander van ’t Riet, CEO of Mai Dubai LLC

Customers tend to judge books by their covers. Consumers ‘feel’ a product with their eyes before actually buying it. Therefore, the overall look of a product is important to create a good first impression, that “first moment of truth”. This, in turn, can be converted into lasting brand loyalty. This is why packaging matters.

There are four moments of truth you need to consider while zeroing in on your product’s packaging. Start with the question ‘does it catch customer’s attention.?’ After that, think about how convenient it is for a customer to open and use the product. Follow it up with ‘did the consumer like the taste and experience of the product’ and finally, ‘will the disposal of our packaging make it easy for the customer and make him/her feel environmentally irresponsible.?’

At Mai Dubai, we take the answers to these questions very seriously. If you take one look at our iconic bottle, you will notice the diamond shapes and the striking red colour that adds to its shelf appeal. That checks the first box. Second, our PET and glass bottles have been designed keeping convenience and use by consumers in mind; the right sizes, the right format for any occasion. Given Mai Dubai’s superior taste, which consumer panels reconfirm time and again, do justice to the third moment of truth.

Lastly, the disposal and environmental moment. Mai Dubai’s packaging reflects the values of sustainability we adhere to: light weight, recyclable, and more and more proactive collection activities for the empty containers. But it doesn’t end there. In fact, the environmental element extends to every aspect of our operations. For instance, Mai Dubai’s factory is 100 per cent powered by clean, solar energy. This means everything from water treatment, to bottle blowing, filling, packing and storage runs on solar energy. Apart from that, our PET bottles are 100 percent recyclable, while glass bottles are also appealing to eco-minded customers.

In terms of packaging design of a bottled water brand, there are two main characteristics that need to be kept in mind – functionality and transparency. For the functional role of packaging, it is important to ensure maintaining the integrity and unique qualities of natural mineral waters and to preserve the microbiological standards and purity.

Over the years, there have been lot of developments in the area of bottled water packaging, with regard to both primary (bottles, caps and labels) and secondary packaging (film, pallets and crates). For example, the weight of PET water bottles has significantly reduced over the last few decades. To be more precise, a 1.5 litre PET bottle is now about 37 per cent lighter than it was few years ago. Glass bottles are 30 per cent lighter today than 20 years ago. This shift is significant as lighter bottles use fewer raw materials, reduce transport costs and make the overall process more energy and resource efficient.

The other characteristic, transparency is equally important. Customers want to see for themselves how pristine and safe the water is. Consequently, they want drinking water to be packaged in transparent bottles. Mai Dubai uses PET extensively along with glass bottles, all of which meet the standards of ideal packaging materials. This is why we, at Mai Dubai, focus on packaging that both shows the product, and can easily be recycled (unlike less recyclable multi-layer boxed containers

Allow stereotyping for a moment: For Italians, it is all about design, while functionality is the king for Germans. If a brand can come up with a perfect combination of these two, it is considered to have nailed packaging. Build on aesthetics -so that it attracts- but at the same time, make sure functionality is not compromised. The ‘catchier’ the design is the more audiences will be attracted to it on the retailer’s shelf. A good packaging will clearly differentiate the product from competitors, and the ultimate will allow for easy use and a positive environmental message.

The design should be able to capture the brand’s identity and convey its core message as well. Since Mai Dubai symbolizes Dubai, embodying the aesthetics of Dubai city in the design was necessary and a great opportunity.

Right packaging design is essential for the success of a brand, and if done well provides many opportunities for optimization. A holistic approach to packaging design can truly take a brand to a whole new level.