Effective packaging doesn’t happen by accident. Brands that stand out on the shelf look ahead and predict consumer trends before they become commonplace.
For many brands, product packaging is a reactive process. They watch what works, examine why it works, and adapt their packaging to meet the same criteria. And while these brands may find some success with this strategy of constant pursuit, they’ll always come up short.
They’re being reactive rather than proactive. They keep pace, but they don’t blaze trails. When it comes to creating effective packaging that stands out in the consumer market, brands need to analyze consumer trends, predict the needs of their markets, and apply them before the trends become the standard.
The Rise of Millennials
At long last, Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers in population size. The U.S. Census Bureau states that Millennials now make up over 25 percent of the U.S. population. And of course, as population rises, spending power increases accordingly. With Millennial shoppers making their preferences known and redefining the best practices for consumer retail, effective packaging will move beyond the pre-defined categories of yesterday and proactively align with the needs of Millennial buyers.
One of the most noteworthy trends in this area as far as packaging is concerned is the Millennial preference for convenience. Data by the Hartman Group found that immediate consumption—food eaten within an hour of purchase—made up 16 percent of all eating occasions and 40 percent of eating occasions for Millennials.
Health has become a significant driver of purchasing behavior in the consumer market. Organic, fresh, and “free-from” foods are common choices for health-conscious consumers. Research by Deloitte shows the strength of this consumer push towards health: 86 percent of shoppers prefer convenient options that are also healthy, and 25 percent are willing to pay a 10 percent premium or more for healthier versions of a product.
Putting aside Millennials for a moment, it’s no secret that the world population is rising as a whole. Urban centers of development generally see the most immediate increases in job opportunities, public transit services, affordable housing, and other conveniences that bring people in. Naturally, consumer preferences for packaging is beginning to reflect this trend. Consumers increasingly seek products that offer convenience, speed, and transportability in these crowded urban centers.
The above research by Deloitte found that over half (51 percent) of consumers make purchase decisions at the shelf. And although price is still the biggest influencer of consumer purchasing, the above trends speak to new strategies for brands (that can’t compete on price) to differentiate themselves at the point of purchase.
1. Targeted marketing that speaks directly to the needs of Millennial consumers, including more on the go options
2. Shifts in packaging sizes, including micro-packaging, individual serving packages, and smaller products overall that cater to the Millennial preference for mobility as well as the speed and convenience required by consumers in urban areas
3. Packaging that prioritizes product healthfulness and natural attributes to align with the growing consumer desire to make health-conscious choices at the shelf
With these trends in mind, brands that want to increase the effectiveness of their packaging will have plenty of ways to give themselves an edge over the competition.