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The concept of carative factors has expanded from the nursing world to packaging design. Carative factors relate to thoughtful ideas embedded in packaging that communicate directly the consumer. These factors help convey the company's mission and concern for the individual who purchases the product. Here's a look at how the carative element of commitment can be applied to packaging design to improve the brand-consumer relationship.

Why Carative Factors Matter in Business

Carative factors can be tracked in all businesses. It started with the theory of human caring by American nurse/author Jean Watson, who wrote about it in her 1979 book Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring. Since then other industries have embraced her theories about human caring. Design lecturer Yoon Choi of University of the Arts London has followed this research path to apply carative concepts to design in the packaging industry. She has focused on object-user detachment, which might on the surface seem worlds away from the science of caring.

Object-user detachment is a relevant concept to sustainability, as it relates to end-of-life cycles of products or consumers no longer feeling the same level of enthusiasm for the product as when they bought it. The idea is that as a person loses interest in an object, they become emotionally detached from it. That makes it easier for them to part with the object, whether they sell it, give it away or take it to a recycler.

The idea of caring for an object similar to a human is easy to monitor, as people have a sense of enormous care for items such as smartphones, wallets and jewelry. Carative concepts can be applied to packaging as a signal to consumers that a brand cares about their satisfaction. The carative factor of commitment communicates strength and durability, which are themes that can be associated with certain products.

How the Perception of Commitment Builds Trust

Packages must connect with consumers in a way that builds trust for the brand. It's clearly helpful to the manufacturer to package its products with imagery that matches the emotional energy level of the product. Keeping marketing elements consistent is a way to show commitment to a logical process that works. Longevity is another sign of commitment, as many small family businesses promote how long they've been in operation.

Demonstrating commitment to a product as part of a cultural continuum is part of what keeps a product active. People often need to be reminded why they should care about an object that might serve as a solution to a problem. The package should tell the story of why the product matters to individuals and society, suggesting a level of care necessary to trigger transactions.

Carative imagery and messages associated with the product can help stimulate an emotional response. Keep in mind the concept of commitment deals with honesty as part of the equation to build trust. So attempts to use carative stimuli in packaging may not work if the intent is not sincere or consistent with principles of human caring.

At this point packaging designers should be curious about exploring the topic of carative packaging more deeply as a strategy to become more competitive. Showing commitment to providing solutions to the consumer's needs and desires is an effective way to gain widespread support for a product. An even deeper level of commitment to society can be conveyed with sustainable packaging that includes statements about the brand's commitment to eco-friendly packaging that promotes recycling and waste reduction.

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[1] Carative Factors in the Design Development Process: Towards Understanding Owner–Object Detachment and Promoting Object Longevity (2018), by Yoon Choi, John Stevens, Clare Brass 

Topics: Packaging Design, Carative Factors in Packaging design

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