In this edition of Pack Snacks, Ashley Sellers speaks to Ray Cheydleur and Cindy Cooperman about brand standards, AR and the revival of the frozen food aisle.
The guest author on “What They Think” addresses brand identity matters and speaks to specific color shades and whether or not we can identify them when they are not directly tied to a brand’s products. For example, she argues that she and her husband cannot select “Coke Red” in a line-up of various shades of red. And when it comes to specific shades of color, studies show that consumers’ color memories are really poor. Considering this, along with the inability to maintain brand color standards in a digital world, where does the value in maintaining brand standards really lie? What does this mean for the CPG brand leaders and the packaging industry?
Ray Cheydleur: It’s an interesting theory and exactly that, a theory. Of course, brand standards matter. Even if you cannot correctly select “Coke Red”, when you put two actual Coke products with varying shades of red next to each other, it becomes a problem for the consumer. Those in the industry agree, when inconsistently colored packaging is sitting side-by-side on the retail shelf, customers will reject the color that looks “off”, creating issues for CPGs and major brands globally.
Cindy Cooperman: And I think we need to look one step beyond that – as colorists, we need to think about connecting design intent to the product packaging and the overall consumer experience. With the emergence of the e-shelf (e-commerce retailing), we need to think of color consistency as part of the entire customer journey. When they see the product online, what do potential customers think? Does the color resonate and is it on-trend? Does the packaging color match and enhance the experience; does the product color match what was seen online? All of those questions need to be considered now.
Color can also create a luxury look and feel as well. I’ve seen a few footwear brands use colors similar to “Tiffany Blue” to give a high-end look to their product packaging. Color is influential and requires consistency, even if you can’t always match the exact shade to the appropriate brand in a “color line-up”.
Today’s retailers are dabbling in the latest technology to give them an edge against ever-changing consumer tastes. For example, Amazon is an obvious leader in utilizing technology — from its’ products such as Alexa and their latest Amazon Go retail locations.
But beauty retailers and furniture retailers have also found ways to use emerging technologies. Estée Lauder launched makeup training through Augmented Reality (AR) and brands and retailers such as MAC and Macy’s have brought AR magic mirrors, driving more customers to test out products virtually rather than expending time and energy on the traditional try-on process. How do color solutions impact these solutions?
Ray Cheydleur: I think that AR is really interesting for these cosmetics companies and retailers, especially in the case of e-commerce. You’ll see the same return problems (especially in cosmetics with color matching), regardless of whether you’re using AR technology or not. These new technologies need to work on embedding additional sensors in them to help improve color fidelity. This, in turn, will help provide consistency (even in AR) and reduce return rates.
Lately, the frozen-food aisle has seen a resurgence in popularity, even among health-conscious consumers. This could be related to the fact that consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands are focusing on refreshing products in the aisles that shoppers avoid. For example, Conagra freshened up a few of its frozen brands: Healthy Choice, Marie Callender’s and Banquet. In particular, brand leaders at Healthy Choice focused on new microwavable meal bowls with popular ingredients like edamame, kale and quinoa.
Conagra’s Chief Executive Sean Connolly stated, “When you take legacy, well-known brands and bring modern elements into the food and packaging, you will have a winner.”
Beyond product reformulation, where does packaging fit in this strategy?
Ray Cheydleur: Freshening up of products normally requires slight rebranding or pack changes to help pique consumer interest…
Cindy Cooperman: Yes, making the look and feel simpler and offering a wider-selection of single-serve seems to be making a big impact in the frozen food space. I’ve noticed that the packaging colors haven’t been as bright and brands have been going for more of a craft look. In terms of innovation, they’ve steered away from bags and moved towards boxes. Boxes are more functional, for example, some of the single-serve packaging allows you to heat the product and eat it while never taking it out of the original package. I believe the Esko’s Product Manager Susie Stitzel refers to it as dual-use or packaging with a purpose.