Innovative packaging is an effective strategy that fast-moving consumer goods companies can use to give their brands that all-important competitive edge. Products with outstanding shelf appeal have a greater chance of attracting the attention of consumers and encouraging them to make the decision to buy. 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 fail to change will become extinct. Finding the right link between consumer trends and packaging selection could determine the success or failure of a product line.
In a world starved for time, consumers crave convenience to reduce the time spent on preparing meals, and innovative packaging can deliver what they want. A classic example of this can be seen 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 as the product passes along the supply chain from the farm through to the consumer.
Consumers are demanding more variety and therefore packaging managers are revisiting packaging and decoration options to deliver the necessary outcomes. One emerging trend is the concept of “late stage differentiation”, where decoration is brought in-house and applied at the point of filling. This gives food companies much more flexibility in meeting consumer demands 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 that 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 consumers are saying these days. Simple packaging designs and graphics are popular 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 know 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 there is nothing to hide and that what 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 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 is age-neutral. Creators of packaging concepts need to align elements of their designs with the demands of this market segment. Graphics should 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 use without difficulty.
Consumers today are well educated about “green” foods and are 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 even reducing packaging, but it also requires a review of the whole value chain and linking to what consumers are demanding. An ever increasing number of innovative packaging technologists are continually developing sustainable solutions such as thinner films, lighter containers, recyclable plastic and, more recently, biodegradable packaging. For more information about how Label Tech can help your business find the critical link between consumer trends and your business labels, call us on 01-8421700 today.