A version of this article first appeared in Packaging Strategies on June 29, 2018.
Data and insights on what shoppers like helps fuel innovative product designs with strong value propositions, but knowing how shoppers want to receive products is also a critical piece of the story. For example, shoppers are constantly gathering information when it comes to food and beverage packaging and with the rise of smartphones, shoppers are becoming curious about how they can use their phones to get more value out of packaging.
According to a new study, “Packaging and the Digital Shopper: Meeting Expectations in Food & Beverage,” from Danaher Product Identification companies, Pantone, Esko, X-Rite and AVT, 37 percent of shoppers have taken a photo with their smartphone in-store to search for more information on a product. Twenty-eight percent of shoppers use the barcode to look up calories, points or other information and 16 percent of shoppers have used packaging with an augmented reality app. Shoppers’ digital behavior, both in-store and online, are influenced heavily by packaging.
Through this study, we uncovered primary shopper behaviors from approximately 4,000 female and male shoppers in North America, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, China and Japan to better understand what they want from food and beverage packaging, how packaging relates to their online shopping experience and what makes them return products. Without knowing the means by which shoppers want to receive products, brand leaders risk losing out on revenue opportunities.
Online shopping for food and beverage
Especially in today’s digital age, consumers look to purchase food and beverage products online. Of shoppers who purchase online, 33% do so because it is convenient while 43% say they do so to get a better price. Of shoppers who had purchased food and beverage products online, 75% of them stated that they plan to purchase more snacks online in the next 18 months.
Shopper food and beverage packaging expectations online
With the rise of online food and beverage shopping, brand consistency matters more than ever. Online and offline purchases must mirror each other as shoppers expect continuity of brand and product regardless of whether they are purchasing on the Internet or pulling an item from a store shelf. Sixty-one percent of shoppers expect the product packaging they see online to be the same as what they see in their local retailer and 47% expect the product image online to match the product packaging that arrives on their doorstep. In fact, only 9% of survey respondents were OK with packaging that was a different color or packaging type.
Why this matters for packaging professionals:
With shoppers’ requests for cohesive experiences, packaging professionals should be wary of changing packaging too much for e-commerce. In the past, when new channels have emerged, such as club or value retail (dollar stores), specialized packaging was requested and sometimes necessary in order for brands to perform well in these new environments.
One strategy for addressing e-commerce could be to follow the previous formula and create different packaging for the growing channel. This is tempting, but remember that shoppers want the packaging that arrives at their door to be very similar to what they see online and in-store. Redesign carefully.
In-store experience still proves valuable for food and beverage brands
But that’s not to say that in-store experiences don’t matter anymore, especially within the food and beverage category. Packaging still plays a key role in differentiation, trial and advocacy within the walls of brick and mortar stores. Remember, a key in-store goal for any fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company is to get the shopper to touch the packaging. In-store activities have a big impact on trial, with 20% of shoppers reporting they have tried a new product specifically because of in-store taste samples of an in-store display.
In order to truly thrive in an era where omnichannel shopping is the norm, brands leaders must challenge their perceptions of what is possible with technology and start connecting the packaging value chain. This is why: if you digitize a task, you can probably start to automate at least part of it, and then also connect the output of the task to other departments and systems that need that output. When everyone is connected to a packaging workflow of integrated technologies, the ecosystem flourishes and FMCGs can better connect to consumers quickly and elevate shopper’s brand experiences.