Unpacking Packaging: Trends and Strategy

With multiple high street brands going into administration every year, the rapid global rise of the middle class, the increasing number of single person households and an ageing population, the demographic context in which brands have to make their mark is changeable and challenging. In today’s highly competitive retail environment, companies need to find a way to shine – and choosing the right packaging is one of the most impactful, visual and effective tactics to build brand charisma and appeal.

At November 2015’s Packaging Live conference in London, several of us in the BuzzBack UK research team had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the colourful world of pack strategy. We learnt about the advantages of digital print packaging, with its efficiency, short time to market and potential for individual pack customisation. We looked at some of the brands who are already picking up on this movement towards personalisation both on and offline (including Coca Cola’s highly successful Share A Coke and Coke Extraordinary campaigns and Magnum’s hands-on Dipping Stations that allow consumers to create their own perfect ice cream experience).

We also heard about some of the current buzz topics in retail – notably the trend towards packaging which clearly communicates a sense of heritage and quality. From fish and chips packaged in printed paper to recall the recycled newsprint wrapping of days gone by, to ready meals produced in fibre or wooden based trays rather than plastic ones to signal increased care and superiority, brands today are making the effort to give them something new, and to communicate with their consumers on an emotional level as well as a functional one. And whilst traditional research approaches may help our clients understand how respondents feel about a pack, it’s increasingly clear that we need to dig deeper and use our diagnostic tools to uncover why it prompts the feelings that it does in them.

Ultimately, a great pack creates a stronger engagement with consumers and actively drives choice. It doesn’t just contain a product – it sells it too – and it’s our job to make sure that our clients make the best pitch possible.