By David Luttenberger, CPP
Global Packaging Director, Mintel Group Ltd.
Between optimizing SKUs, tending to labeling regulation compliance, and finding budget for R&D, the CPO is responsible for being the principle advocate, and often even the head cheerleader, for communicating what packaging can bring to the brand marketing table.
According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), between Jan. 2010 and Dec. 2014, launches of new food products in the United States that have used packaging as a launch driver have increased nearly 51 percent. That is proof-positive retailers, brand-owners and even package converters are realizing the power packaging has to make a difference in shoppers’ purchasing decisions. But often, when price and perceived product quality are equal, the opportunity to sway consumers’ purchasing decision is missed because key packaging attributes are not called out on pack, or they are called out inappropriately.
Let’s take, for instance, convenience. Although convenience in packaging is a critical need, according to Mintel, consumers do not mention convenience by name as a packaging attribute. Rather, they mention functional packaging attributes that speak about convenience, such as resealability or 100 percent dispensability. To that end, it’s the CPO’s responsibility to communicate to her counterparts in branding and marketing the role of packaging and the importance of prominently featuring functional claims alongside, and in some cases, ahead of product attributes.
Mintel research also points out that while 53 percent of consumers indicate more simple labeling is an important feature of food packaging, nearly one–third of consumers agree that it’s difficult to find relevant claims on product packaging. That percentage jumps to 36 percent for consumers age 25-34 and to 42 percent for those age 18-24. Ensuring claims about packaging’s attributes are communicated adequately holds true across end-use categories.
Mintel’s consumer research shows that the majority of beauty and personal care product shoppers express interest in new packaging formats, regardless of whether they have tried them or not.
According to Mintel Household Analyst John Owens, household care product purchasers age 18-34 are considerably more likely than their older counterparts to express a willingness to pay more for just about every added-value packaging feature. In Mintel’s 2015 Household Packaging Trends report, calling attention to innovative packaging features can become an important part of the usage experience and a way for brands to set themselves apart. Here again, it’s incumbent upon the CPO to ensure discussions about exploiting packaging attribute- and claims-related features during the new product and package ideation and commercialization discussions.
While altogether new products, new varieties and line extensions, and new formulations make up the majority of household care launches, according to GNPD, products featuring new packaging as the launch driver continue to grow more prevalent. These package- and label-based launches accounted for 36% of all household care new product launches in 2014, up from 15% in 2009.
What CPOs Must Emphasize About Packaging Features and On-pack Claims:
- When making on-pack claims about a convenience element attributed to the package, the more specific the better
- Build claims around specific packaging attributes and features consumers consider most important
- Packaging-related claims must continue to be emphasized on front of the pack to ensure consumers can see for themselves the exact benefit when deciding to buy and then use the product
- Brands are increasingly communicating the “less packaging” attribute on-pack. However, they still need to go the extra step and share the story, perhaps on the back of the pack, about how this is achieved without also reducing the amount of product.
- The opportunity for converters and brands to make a greater impact with packaging attributes lies in leveraging pack design to ‘show’ functional benefits that are often hidden in secondary packaging or implied rather than delivered.
- With so few consumers looking at on pack instructions before purchase, brands need to ensure that the packaging shows its ease of use and is also intuitive to use.
David Luttenberger is the Global Packaging Director at Mintel. He has 24 years’ packaging experience. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @packaginggeek.