Innovative packaging is an efficient tool that FMCG businesses may 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 consider to buy.
While food companies continue steadily to review the buyer trends that affect purchasing behaviors, it’s important 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’s 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 if 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 shouldn’t 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, as the brands that fail to change will become extinct.
In a world starved for time, consumers crave convenience to reduce 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 consumers 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 increase the shelf life of the meals it protects as 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 been made in recent years to enhance the quality of ingredients found in these meals, yet challenges still exist. Customer feedback 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 round 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. Choosing the right 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 perform 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 purchase” is what individuals are saying nowadays. Simple packaging designs and graphics seem to be the “flavor of the month” and those companies that are heeding this trend are reaping the benefits. In the UK, innovative retailer, Waitrose, used a plain, clear pressure-sensitive label with a simple print design to deliver outstanding shelf impact for their pickle range. The packaging told consumers what they wanted to find out about the contents, and the product was supplied in a convenient re-closable jar, so they could see the quality of the pickles through the glass.
In this example, a clear 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 perform this. The choice of graphics is equally important. Less glossy packaging and softer ink tones are increasingly being used to attain 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 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 easy-open and re-closure features, have 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 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 using what consumers are asking for.
While the majority will focus on packaging alone to deliver sustainability, it is also vital that you consider how 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 could play an essential 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.