Innovative packaging is an efficient tool that FMCG businesses can 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 make the decision to buy.
While food companies continue steadily to review the consumer trends that affect purchasing behaviors, it’s important that they also examine global packaging trends, to develop successful strategies that enhance their product offerings while reducing costs.Pre roll packagingChoosing the best link between consumer trends and packaging selection could determine the success or failure of something line.
While successful packaging helps something reach the pantry shelf to begin with, 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 connection with the product will determine should they re-purchase the brand. This is why food marketers and packaging managers today must ensure products and packaging strategies are aligned. Product and packaging development should not be conducted in isolation.
In recent years, the following consumer trends have forced manufacturers to re-think their packaging offerings. The firms 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 lessen the time allocated to preparing meals, and innovative packaging can deliver what they need. A classic example of this can be observed in the success of pre-cut fresh produce in the Australian retail market, where individuals are prepared to pay a lot more than double for packaged, hygienically washed and cut vegetables.
To support this trend, packaging companies are continuing to build up specialized breathable packaging, to extend the shelf life of the food it protects because the product passes along the supply chain from the farm 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 within these meals, yet challenges remain. Customer feedback indicates that microwavable meals are easy to overcook, often 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 already been made using different valve technologies that manage the distribution of steam and pressure round the food. This dynamic shift is enabling brands to provide convenience, quality and consistently well-prepared food, enabling premium positioning in the ready-to-eat market.
Individuals are demanding more variety, and this 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 provide 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 much 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 improve 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 facts so I can buy” is what consumers are saying nowadays. Simple packaging designs and graphics appear to be the “flavor of the month” and those companies that are heeding this trend are reaping the huge benefits. In the united kingdom, innovative retailer, Waitrose, used an ordinary, clear pressure-sensitive label with a straightforward print design to deliver outstanding shelf impact because of their pickle range. The packaging told consumers what they wished to know about the contents, and the product was supplied in a convenient re-closable jar, so that they could see the quality of the pickles through the glass.
In this example, an obvious 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’re 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 being used to achieve the “natural” message and give a unique shelf appeal.
It is well documented that most markets have an aging population, so it is crucial to design packaging that’s age-neutral. Creators of packaging concepts need to align elements of their designs with the demands of this market segment. Graphics should be legible (this may mean using larger fonts); the packaging shape needs to be ergonomic; and functional aspects, such as for example easy-open and re-closure features, must be suitable for older people to use without difficulty.
Consumers today are well educated about “green” foods and so are very conscious of the impact of packaging on the environment. 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 exactly to deliver food and minimize its wastage, because the percentage of food waste inside our dumps far exceeds that of packaging. Rather than being based only on environmental impact, packaging choice needs to be seen as a method of meeting consumer demand to reduce 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, recently, biodegradable packaging, are being deployed to ensure “green” is the main overall product packaging story.
These elements, and the degree to which a brand meets the requirements of these consumers, will determine the success or failure of a product. While the graphics and form of packaging play an important role in capturing the attention of consumers during the “moment of truth” at the supermarket shelf, the functional areas of the package are necessary to giving the consumer a confident 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 example, 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 element in achieving brand loyalty. This is exactly why it is so important for packaging technologists to match consumer requirements with appropriate packaging designs.