Packaging is viewed as an extension of the product, and the consumer's first perception of value is based on look and feel of the package. Research shows that consumers spend on average three seconds eyeing a product on store shelves before deciding whether to purchase — sometimes referred to as the first moment of truth.

Soft-touch thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are a package differentiator, often visually alerting the consumer that there is something unique about this package and product.

According to MeadWesvaco's Packaging Matters Study, 64 percent of consumers have tried a new brand because the packaging caught their eye. If aesthetically pleasing packages can influence the consumer to pick up the product, they are 80 percent more likely to place it in their cart than return it to the store shelf. The soft-touch properties of TPEs encourage consumers to pick up the product and experience the texture and feel of the package.

Packaging is becoming more personalized, and what is more personal than communicating with consumers through the sense of touch? People tend to remember what they feel and experience much longer than what they read or hear.

TPEs add functionality to the package that engages consumers, enhancing their experience and positively impacting overall product satisfaction. This leads to the second moment of truth, which is all about how the consumer experiences and interacts with the product.

Soft-touch TPEs can be used in packaging of everyday products to emphasize product enhancements or value-added features. They can also be used to communicate to consumers that this is an upscale product that will deliver added functionality commanding a higher value. Packaging that connects with consumers through multiple senses is a hot topic especially in the cosmetic and luxury packaging sectors.

Today's brands are seeking a relationship with consumers. Tactile communication is an underutilized method of connecting with consumers that can be a differentiator influencing brand preference.

The third moment of truth is when the consumer experiences the product and package together and begins to form a decision about whether to buy the product again. Packaging designed with the attributes of soft-touch TPEs add functionality that can lead to the product differentiation and consumer loyalty that brand owners are seeking.