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Consumers’ reaction to packaging

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  • Consumers’ reaction to packaging

    Walking through a supermarket, having dinner in a restaurant, traveling abroad or looking for presents for relatives or friends - we are always choosing, but how do we choose? Is the decision based on quality or the packaging?

    Consumers are now being faced with increasing changes in the way that their favorite products look on the shelf, as companies undertake sometimes large operations to update packaging.

    Companies are however careful not to alter the look of familiar products too much, for fear of alienating those loyal to the brand. In the UK when Nestlé announced that KitKat would no longer be wrapped in foil, lead to public outcry and editorials, demonstrated that consumer attachment to products can be just as much about the way they look as the way they taste.

    Ian Crawford, a senior lecturer at Cranfield University is not surprised by this reaction. In a recent paper prepared for the Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association Association, Crawford argued that product packaging is "the most important point-of-sale merchandising tool."

    He cites in particular familiar and iconic shapes, such as Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Nescafé Gold Blend and Coca-Cola in glass bottles. Shapes "give a brand personality, add value, give aesthetic qualities and serve as a point of differentiation between competing products."

    To David Walker, the marketing operations and media controller for Kellogg's, product packaging is the most important point-of-sale merchandising tool.

    A number of changes to Nestlé lines also seek to promote products in a "contemporary" manner. Gold Blend uses "warm coffee beans" to communicate "the smooth and rich product taste," the company told Smarties have developed a twisting pod or tetrahedral pack shape to appeal to "a younger, more media and brand aware audience which expects new developments." However, the flip-off lid has been retained as it has been integral to the brand for many years. Other changes have a functional leaning.

    The Kit Kat change "keeps the product fresh three times as long as the previous design."
    Matt Day told that with two products on the market, ready-to-drink and powdered, messages on the packets have to be different as the drinkable version is marketed to children and the powdered one is aimed at adults buying for children. In addition, "we use lots of primary colors for instant recognition." Marketing messages differ slightly in different countries while legal implications mean that information panels may have to change. However, it is largely true that most international brands seem to carry the same look.

    Some of the most interesting packaging stories come when companies seek to do something radically different. Ian Crawford notes how Dry Blackthorn Cider saw their sales increase when they repackaged their product in black and produced a number of new sizes. In Germany, he points out that Onken sold fromage frais packaged in plastic building blocks to appeal to parents and children.

    Packaging appearance is becoming increasingly important. Products catch our attention because of their colors and shapes but consumers not only care about design but also about sustainability. In fact, three-quarters of Americans believe many consumer products are over-packaged according to NMI's annual U.S. LOHAS Consumer Trends Study. To succeed companies will have to worry not just about how their product tastes, but also about how it looks and how their production impacts the environment.

    The importance of packaging

    If it's a new product, one that no one knows about, the most important thing is packaging. No one will appreciate the flavor if they are not first enticed into picking up the product, purchasing it, taking it home and trying it. –Fred Zinos

    We thought standout flavor was more important but consumers make assumptions about flavor and quality from looking at the packaging. It's a bigger part of the equation than we realized initially. –Melissa Scheiderer

    If you're a new product, a well-designed package can be the start to your success. Before you even get to the consumer, consider that store buyers and distributors will also make judgments whether or not to carry your product by its packaging. –Jonathan Selikoff

    You literally have 1 second to catch a customer's eye as they walk past a section or display. Only then are you able to begin communicating the attributes of your product that inspire purchase. But if the product does not meet the desired benefit, you have now lost that customer. –Vincent Garibaldi

    Although [sic] we all want to lean towards flavor initially it's the packaging that gets the consumers' attention. Unless you are sampling product in store the consumer will know nothing of the taste until they have purchased the product. This is why most new products fail. You must invest in your branding and design in order to be successful and without the taste you won't get repeat business. –Cristina Calvet-Harrold

    As a sustainable packaging manufacturer, I naturally vote for packaging—as the famous ad legend David Ogilvy once said "perception is all there is" and with packaging you are creating a perception. However, a caution... the packaging material should fit the brand positioning. One thing that continues to surprise me is the high number of products marketed as "natural" or "organic" in non-compostable or non-recyclable packaging. To me that sends a mixed message to a consumer that is predisposed to seeking out the healthiest options for their diet only to be conflicted by the materials encasing these items. –Kellee Harris

    From a buyer's perspective, it's all about the package... You eat with your eyes first. Obviously, for repeat purchase, your product needs to taste good etc… That is critical for the long term. For the short term though, first impressions count. I would say the above holds true for over 90% of the products I manage whether in grocery, HABA or OTC. I can give examples to the contrary, but unfortunately they are few and far between. –Kenny Vannucci

    Take a look at these creative and beautiful packaging designs

    Quality in packaging

    There is a highly competitive landscape. Wineries, distilleries, etc. could destroy its brand reputation with just one shipment of defective product. According to Wine Marketing Consultants, Tincknell & Tincknell, “A brand is an idea, and if perceptions by anyone interacting with the product are negative the strength of the brand will suffer and brand equity will be lost.

    Premium beverages are packaged and sold when manufactured to the highest quality standard, therefore the manufacturer´s time, resources, and profits should not be wasted on defective packaging. Premium beverage manufacturers demand high margins, but if the product cannot reach the consumer due to product rework, retailer returns, or products recalls, margins can be lost.

    In recent years, retailers and consumers have become much less tolerant of both health risks and increased retailer costs.
    The top tier beverage companies are now implementing vision inspection programs as a standard to help protect their valuable brand, production process, and their reputation for quality. This inspection consists of proper fill level, cork presence, correctness of cap, seal integrity, label and print verification and case packing.

    Claudia Ortiz
    Beverage Trade Network
    Banjo Bandolas
    v- 541-284-5500