The information age has given consumers more detailed information than ever about what goes into the products they buy. Brand positioning in today’s marketplace cannot rely on providing only the information required on a package design and trusting customer loyalty to sustain strong brand relationships.
Nobody likes wasting food, but in some cases, it is all but unavoidable. Food waste is any raw or cooked food, whether solid or liquid, which is discarded, or intended or required to be discarded. It is generated throughout the processing chain, from harvest through processing, handling, storage, transport, cooking, and serving.
People may say, “It’s what’s inside that counts” to explain away a clumsily wrapped present, but anyone involved in packaging design knows what a profound effect packaging has on a person’s entire attitude toward what’s inside. The same silver necklace comes across completely differently when presented in a plastic bag versus when it’s presented in a classic “Tiffany Blue” box with a white ribbon.
Unlike in decades past, brands cannot count on long-term customer loyalty based on name recognition and brand dominance alone. Today’s consumers want transparency, which involves the ready availability of detailed product information. If they think brands are withholding information or providing vague information, they can turn on brands to which they have been loyal for a long time.
Consumers will turn on long-favored brands if they don’t think they’re honest and transparent.
In other words, brands that want loyal customers must build transparency into every aspect of brand-building. A 2016 study by Label Insight of more than 2,000 consumers revealed several key findings:
- Consumers want to know everything about your product.
- They want to know about company values too.
- They’ll look for brand information elsewhere if the brand itself doesn’t provide it.
- Young parents are among the most vociferous supporters of brand transparency.
- Providing transparency can build longstanding relationships with consumers.
Food brands, manufacturers, and retailers are faced with unprecedented challenges in designing products and product packaging that reflect evolving habits and priorities of the consumer base. Consumers know more about not only what goes into the foods they eat, but also about the path products take from farm to table. They are allowing that new information to shape their choices, but that does not mean that presentation and packaging have become irrelevant.
Consumers, awash in product information, are influenced by more factors than ever when it comes to food purchase decisions.
On the contrary, consumer-centric packaging design is arguably more important than ever. It can be considered as yet another channel through which brands convey their values and attempt to match those to consumer values. Marketing in the grocery store aisle is about far more than simply eye-catching packaging, but must also speak to what consumers want in a food product. And consumers are influenced by more factors than ever.
Consumer values and beliefs have always evolved. Today, however, they do so far more rapidly than in the pre-internet era. The combination of broadband and mobile technology has given
Consumers take advantage of the explosion in information available about the products they buy.
Food manufacturers have responded by engaging with consumers on new media, but the management of marketing messages is still more challenging than it once was, primarily because of the speed with which information (true or otherwise) can spread. As a result, food manufacturers and retailers are having to reposition themselves with consumers in terms of branding, advertising, and food packaging design.
For several years, a common theme throughout the evolution of the food service packaging chain has been the increased emphasis on sustainability. Packagers increasingly turn to environmentally sustainable packaging for lower impact on the planet, and visible sustainability as part of a wise brand-building strategy. Compostable packaging in particular has become important to visible sustainability.
Just as clothing fashions, car designs, and architectural styles can indicate the era from which they come, so can packaging design. A person can see, for example, a photo of a soda can from 30 years ago and immediately remember the general packaging styles of that time period. Minimalist packaging is a popular trend at the moment.
Consumers want fresh, natural, less-processed food choices now more than ever before. Fortunately, innovations in alternative processing techniques such as high pressure processing (HPP) as well as innovations in food packaging design make it possible for many food and beverage manufacturers to accommodate growing consumer demand.