Innovative packaging is an effective tool that FMCG businesses may use to provide their brands that all-important competitive edge. Products with outstanding shelf appeal have a larger chance of attracting the eye of consumers and encouraging them to consider 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 improve 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. 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.Pre roll packagingBecause of this , food marketers and packaging managers today must ensure 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 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 lessen the time spent on 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 extend the shelf life of the food it protects because the product passes across the supply chain from the farm through to the consumer.
Microwavable meals were developed primarily for convenience, which came at the trouble of product freshness and-sometimes-taste. Several attempts have already been made in recent years to enhance the quality of ingredients found in these meals, yet challenges still exist. Comments from customers indicates that microwavable meals are an easy task 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 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, 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 best 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. This gives 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 improve 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 reality so I can buy” is what individuals are saying nowadays. Simple packaging designs and graphics seem to be the “flavor of the month” and those companies which are heeding this trend are reaping the huge benefits. In the UK, innovative retailer, Waitrose, used a plain, clear pressure-sensitive label with a straightforward print design to deliver outstanding shelf impact for their pickle range. The packaging told consumers what they wanted to know about the contents, and the merchandise was supplied in a convenient re-closable jar, so they could start to 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 everything you see is what you get. Today, consumers want to see what they are purchasing, and innovative packaging and label combinations can achieve this. The choice of graphics is equally important. Less glossy packaging and softer ink tones are increasingly 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 have to align elements of their designs with the demands of the market segment. Graphics ought to be legible (this could 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 utilize without difficulty.
Consumers today are well educated about “green” foods and so are very aware 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 even reducing packaging, but it also requires a review of the whole value chain and linking in using what consumers are asking for.
While the majority will concentrate 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 inside 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 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 part of the overall product packaging story.
These elements, and the amount 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 a significant role in capturing the attention of consumers during the “moment of truth” at the supermarket shelf, the functional aspects of the package are crucial to giving the consumer a confident post-purchase experience. However, simply adding functionality isn’t enough. The packaging design needs to incorporate two key aspects: relevance to the product 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 a critical element in achieving brand loyalty. This is why it is so important for packaging technologists to match consumer requirements with appropriate packaging designs.