Innovative packaging is an efficient tool that FMCG businesses can use to provide 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 to review the consumer trends that affect purchasing behaviors, it is important they also examine global packaging trends, to build up successful strategies that enhance their product offerings while reducing costs. Choosing the best link between consumer trends and packaging selection could determine the success or failure of a product line.
While successful packaging helps something reach the pantry shelf in the first place, it’s the product itself that keeps it there. Pre roll packaging Attractive packaging may entice and secure the first-time purchase of a product, but the consumer’s experience of the product will determine if they re-purchase the brand. For this reason food marketers and packaging managers today must be sure products and packaging strategies are aligned. Product and packaging development shouldn’t 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 is often observed in the success of pre-cut fresh produce in the Australian retail market, where consumers are prepared to pay more than double for packaged, hygienically washed and cut vegetables.
To support this trend, packaging companies are continuing to develop specialized breathable packaging, to increase the shelf life of the meals it protects because the product passes across 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 been made in recent years to enhance the quality of ingredients found in these meals, yet challenges remain. Comments from customers indicates that microwavable meals are easy to overcook, often usually do not cook evenly, and can dry out during the reheating process.
Packaging technologists have driven the development of better ready-to-heat-and-eat solutions. Efforts to improve the cooking process have already been made using different valve technologies that manage the distribution of steam and pressure around 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.
Consumers are demanding more variety, and this pressure has seen an explosion in SKU proliferation on the shelf. Selecting 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 idea of filling. Thus giving food companies a lot more flexibility in meeting consumer demands for more SKUs and enables marketers to perform 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 which 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 individuals are saying these days. Simple packaging designs and graphics seem to be the “flavor of the month” and the ones companies that are heeding this trend are reaping the benefits. In the UK, innovative retailer, Waitrose, used an ordinary, clear pressure-sensitive label with a simple print design to provide outstanding shelf impact for their pickle range. The packaging told consumers what they wished to know about the contents, and the merchandise 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 there is nothing to hide and that what you see is what 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 distinctive 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 have to align components of their designs with the demands of the market segment. Graphics should be legible (this may mean using larger fonts); the packaging shape needs to be ergonomic; and functional aspects, such as easy-open and re-closure features, need to be suitable for older people to use without difficulty.
Consumers today are well educated about “green” foods and 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 already are 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 using what consumers are asking for.
While the majority will focus on packaging alone to provide sustainability, it is also important to consider how exactly to deliver food and minimize its wastage, because the percentage of food waste in our dumps far exceeds that of packaging. Rather than being based only on environmental impact, packaging choice should be seen as a means 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, more recently, biodegradable packaging, are being deployed to ensure “green” is area of the 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 shape of packaging play a significant 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 isn’t enough. The packaging design must incorporate two key aspects: relevance to the merchandise and delivery of consistent performance. For instance, in case a package is promoted as re-closable, it must re-close easily and effectively, and its own performance should exceed the expectations of consumers.