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 eye of consumers and encouraging them to make the decision to buy.
While food companies continue to review the buyer 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 a product 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 experience of the product will determine if they re-purchase the brand.Pre roll packagingThis 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 next 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 fail to change will become extinct.
In a global starved for time, consumers crave convenience to reduce the time spent on preparing meals, and innovative packaging can deliver what they need. A classic example of this could be 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 aid this trend, packaging companies are continuing to build up 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 trouble 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. Comments from customers indicates that microwavable meals are easy to overcook, often 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 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 provide convenience, quality and consistently well-prepared food, enabling 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. Selecting the best packaging is crucial to getting 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 lessen 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 reality so I can purchase” is what consumers are saying nowadays. Simple packaging designs and graphics appear to be the “flavor of the month” and the ones 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 simple print design to deliver outstanding shelf impact for his or her 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 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 perform 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 unique shelf appeal.
It is well documented that a lot of 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 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, have to be suitable for older people to utilize without difficulty.
Consumers today are well educated about “green” foods and 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 already are responding. Obviously, choosing “green” packaging means using recyclable or biodegradable packaging, and also 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 focus on packaging alone to provide sustainability, it is also vital that you consider how 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 needs to be seen as a means of meeting consumer demand to lessen food wastage. In fact, it could 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 all being deployed to make sure “green” is the main overall product packaging story.
Most of these elements, and the amount to which a brand meets the requirements of these consumers, will determine the success or failure of something. While the graphics and form of packaging play a significant role in capturing the attention of consumers through 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 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.