There was a time when you had to live in places like Seattle, Boston or Frisco (San Fran locals hate when you call it that, by the way) to enjoy good seafood. The food industry recognized the need for equal opportunity for all with regard to ocean-dwelling cuisine. However, one problem with seafood is that its shelf life stinks, literally.
Enter the frozen food aisle as the irrefutable liberator of seafood and blessed deliverer of fish sticks to the non-oceanfront masses. Today, pretty much every delectable goodie the sea has to offer can be conveniently found within the glass doors of that frozen treasure trove in the center of the supermarkets everywhere. But, there’s another problem with seafood (besides its smell): It’s not pretty. At all. Not even a little. So what do you do to help sell the product? This is where packaging designers come in.
A Packaging Trend Emerges
Seafood packaging designers developed a practical solution, and what would become the gold standard: a slew of individual filets of something or other, each wrapped in a clear, vacuum-sealed pouch. Sound familiar? We thought so. There was a distinct strategy in deciding to package seafood this way. Convenience is key for consumer satisfaction, and taking a frozen eight pound slab of cod out of the freezer is not something anyone wants to deal with on a busy weeknight. Or, you know, ever. The individual packets offer perfectly-portioned servings that are also user-friendly.
While undeniably convenient, the individual packages inside are often a completely boring, transparent plastic shell, which is a total waste of prime real estate. This is a wonderful opportunity to further connect with the customer, a blank billboard on a busy oceanside highway. Let’s cast our nets for some great ideas on how to use it!
Give Frozen Fish a Warm and Fuzzy Backstory
People are obsessed with back story, as evidenced by the absurd number of “Behind the Music” episodes that have aired. These backstory addicts are no different with their food. They want to know where it came from, what farmer grew it and probably what that farmer thinks is the real meaning of the lyrics to “Hey Jude.” It’s one of the reason why our packaging design for WayFare was such a hit, because we included that type of message on the packaging. Let’s translate this insatiable need for TMI to seafood packaging. That little space on each filet is an opportunity to share the product’s backstory. For example, use it to highlight the sustainable fish farm that produced the product, or provide other insights that give the customer a sense of personal connection. Or even make up a nice fictional fish tale! The world’s your oyster.
Invoke a Little Nostalgia
These days, our frozen seafood may be convenient, but the appearance screams “this filet was brought to you by the commercial fishing industry.” Thalassios Kosmos, a Greek fish distributor, figured out how to add a much needed personal touch to their seafood packaging. We’re a bit rusty on our Greek, but the aesthetics speak loud and clear in any language. The package includes a mesh-covered window (a throwback to old-fashioned fishing nets) and features photos of some old-school, salty-looking fishermen. This package design brilliantly evokes a nostalgic feel to ye olde fishing days rather than the much duller realities of mass production.
Offer Tips, Trivia and Factoids
Another idea for utilizing that vacuum pack is to slather it with interesting and useful information. Why not feature a different recipe on each individually wrapped salmon filet? Or, highlight the multitude of health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids? You could even toss out a few enticing tidbits of tilapia trivia. By reminding the customer of ways that seafood benefits them and offering new suggestions for how to enjoy their fresh-caught-and-then-frozen meal, you’ve added real value that lands a repeat customer.
Spice It Up
Monotony is boring, especially when it comes to food. Seriously, how many times can we reinvent weeknight chicken recipes? You gotta spice it up from time to time. The variety of delicious offerings of the sea allow us to enjoy such fabulous dishes as Swordfish over Red Pepper Polenta and Barbecue Silver Pomfret, any of which should be hailed as a welcome break in the seemingly endless stream of meatloaf, chicken wings and hamburgers. Designing seafood packaging to be equally engaging just makes good sense. Fish sense, that is.