Innovative packaging is an effective 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 eye 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 that they also examine global packaging trends, to develop 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 to begin with, it is the product itself that keeps it there. Pre roll packaging Attractive packaging may entice and secure the first-time purchase of something, but the consumer’s experience of 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 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 fail to change will become extinct.
In a world 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 could be seen 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 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 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 enhance 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 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 provide convenience, quality and consistently well-prepared food, enabling premium positioning in the ready-to-eat market.
Individuals are demanding more variety, which pressure has seen an explosion in SKU proliferation on the shelf. Selecting the most appropriate 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 is the concept of “late stage differentiation”, where decoration is brought in-house and applied at the idea 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. Additionally, there are 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 reality so I can buy” is what individuals are saying these days. Simple packaging designs and graphics appear to be the “flavor of the month” and the ones companies which 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 deliver outstanding shelf impact because of 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 everything you get. Today, consumers want 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 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’s age-neutral. Creators of packaging concepts have to align elements of their designs with the demands of this market segment. Graphics ought to be legible (this may mean using larger fonts); the packaging shape has to be ergonomic; and functional aspects, such as easy-open and re-closure features, ought to be suitable for older people to use without difficulty.
Consumers today are well educated about “green” foods and are very aware of the impact of packaging on the environment. The momentum behind the “green” movement is building quickly and, being well alert to this, many food companies are already responding. Obviously, choosing “green” packaging means using recyclable or biodegradable packaging, and even 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 vital that you consider how to deliver food and minimize its wastage, as the percentage of food waste in our dumps far exceeds that of packaging. Instead of 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, recently, biodegradable packaging, are being deployed to ensure “green” is portion of the overall product packaging story.
Many of these elements, and the amount to which a brandname meets the requirements of their consumers, will determine the success or failure of a product. While the graphics and form 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 is not enough. The packaging design must incorporate two key aspects: relevance to the product 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.