Innovative packaging is an effective tool that FMCG businesses may use to give their brands that all-important competitive edge. Products with outstanding shelf appeal have a larger chance of attracting the attention of consumers and encouraging them to consider to buy.
While food companies continue steadily to review the consumer trends that affect purchasing behaviors, it’s important they also examine global packaging trends, to build up successful strategies that improve their product offerings while reducing costs. Choosing the best link between consumer trends and packaging selection could determine the success or failure of something line.
While successful packaging helps a product reach the pantry shelf in the first place, it is the product itself that keeps it there. Attractive packaging may entice and secure the first-time purchase of something, but the consumer’s experience of the product will determine if they re-purchase the brand.Pre roll packagingThis is the reason food marketers and packaging managers today must be sure products and packaging strategies are aligned. Product and packaging development should not be conducted in isolation.
In recent years, the next consumer trends have forced manufacturers to re-think their packaging offerings. The companies that change and evolve with customers will succeed, while the brands that neglect to change will become extinct.
In a global starved for time, consumers crave convenience to reduce the time allocated to preparing meals, and innovative packaging can deliver what they need. A classic example of this could be seen in the success of pre-cut fresh produce in the Australian retail market, where individuals are prepared to pay more than double for packaged, hygienically washed and cut vegetables.
To aid this trend, packaging companies are continuing to build up specialized breathable packaging, to increase the shelf life of the food it protects because the product passes along the supply chain from the farm through to the consumer.
Microwavable meals were developed primarily for convenience, which came at the expense of product freshness and-sometimes-taste. Several attempts have already been made in recent years to improve the quality of ingredients found in these meals, yet challenges still exist. Customer feedback indicates that microwavable meals are easy to overcook, often usually do not cook evenly, and can dry during the reheating process.
Packaging technologists have driven the development of better ready-to-heat-and-eat solutions. Efforts to really improve the cooking process have been made using different valve technologies that manage the distribution of steam and pressure around the food. This dynamic shift is enabling brands to supply convenience, quality and consistently well-prepared food, allowing for premium positioning in the ready-to-eat market.
Consumers are demanding more variety, which pressure has seen an explosion in SKU proliferation on the shelf. Choosing the right packaging is crucial to obtaining a balance between meeting consumer needs (the marketers’ goal) and achieving operational flexibility. Packaging managers are therefore revisiting packaging and decoration options to deliver the necessary outcomes.
One emerging trend may be the concept of “late stage differentiation”, where decoration is brought in-house and applied at the point of filling. Thus giving food companies a lot more flexibility in meeting consumer demands for more SKUs and enables marketers to run more promotions with shorter notice. There are also opportunities to reduce inventory of pre-decorated containers, reduce obsolescent inventory and enhance the graphics and aesthetics of pre-printed containers. Two key technologies that have offered this breathing space to food companies are pressure-sensitive and roll-fed shrink labels.
Form and Graphics
“Just give me the reality so I can purchase” is what consumers are saying nowadays. Simple packaging designs and graphics seem to be the “flavor of the month” and the ones companies which are heeding this trend are reaping the huge benefits. In the UK, innovative retailer, Waitrose, used an ordinary, clear pressure-sensitive label with a simple print design to deliver outstanding shelf impact because of their pickle range. The packaging told consumers what they wanted to find out about the contents, and the product was supplied in a convenient re-closable jar, so that they could start to see the quality of the pickles through the glass.
In this example, a clear label assures consumers that you’ll find nothing to hide and that what you see is everything you get. Today, consumers desire to see what they are purchasing, and innovative packaging and label combinations can achieve this. The decision of graphics is equally important. Less glossy packaging and softer ink tones are increasingly being used to attain the “natural” message and give a distinctive shelf appeal.
It is well documented that most markets have an aging population, so it’s crucial to design packaging that is age-neutral. Creators of packaging concepts have to align components of their designs with the demands of the market segment. Graphics should be legible (this could mean using larger fonts); the packaging shape must be ergonomic; and functional aspects, such as easy-open and re-closure features, need to be suitable for older people to utilize without difficulty.
Consumers today are well educated about “green” foods and so are very conscious of the impact of packaging on the surroundings. The momentum behind the “green” movement is building quickly and, being well aware of this, many food companies are already responding. Obviously, choosing “green” packaging means using recyclable or biodegradable packaging, and also reducing packaging, but it addittionally requires a review of the whole value chain and linking in with what consumers are asking for.
While the majority will concentrate on packaging alone to deliver sustainability, it is also important to consider how to deliver food and minimize its wastage, because the percentage of food waste in our dumps far exceeds that of packaging. Instead of being based only on environmental impact, packaging choice has to be seen as a means of meeting consumer demand to lessen food wastage. In fact, it can play a crucial role, as innovative packaging technologists develop sustainable packaging solutions. Hence thinner films, lighter packaging containers, recyclable plastic and, more recently, biodegradable packaging, are being deployed to make sure “green” is area of the overall product packaging story.
These elements, and the degree to which a brand meets the requirements of their consumers, will determine the success or failure of a product. While the graphics and shape of packaging play an important role in capturing the eye of consumers during the “moment of truth” at the supermarket shelf, the functional areas of the package are necessary to giving the consumer a positive post-purchase experience. However, simply adding functionality is not enough. The packaging design needs to incorporate two key aspects: relevance to the merchandise and delivery of consistent performance. For instance, if a package is promoted as re-closable, it must re-close easily and effectively, and its performance should exceed the expectations of consumers.
A positive post-purchase experience is really a critical factor in achieving brand loyalty. This is the reason it is so very important to packaging technologists to match consumer requirements with appropriate packaging designs.