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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tweaking the Score, if not Changing the Game: The Consumer Take on Food and Beverage Packaging

From purchase off the shelf through consumption, packaging for food and beverages evolves to intersect with consumer needs and desires.  Food and beverage categories and brands benefit significantly when manufacturers and retailers manage to fuse packaging innovation with emerging consumer trends.
To take advantage of the dynamic environment, as argued in our recent report on Food and Beverage Packaging Trends in the U.S., manufacturers and retailers must understand what matters most to consumers, and which packaging innovations deliver benefits that actually impact behavior. 
This understanding is critical because new product success is exceedingly tricky to achieve, even among the most veteran, category-dominant, and deep-pocketed manufacturers and marketers.  According to SymphonyIRI, just 3% of new products achieve blockbuster status, sales of more than $50 million in the first year.  The vast majority of new products don’t even reach $7.5 million first year out.  Yet innovation is essential.   Experian Simmons data show that even during difficult economic times—and corresponding during a boom time for comfort food—half of U.S. consumers like to try out new food products, with 32% agreeing “a little” that they like to do so, and 18% agreeing “a lot.”
What do consumers generally think about food and beverage packaging?  Overall, they are satisfied with packaging available to them.  Respondents to our Packaged Facts March-April 2012 Survey showed hardly any dissatisfaction with packaging across major food and beverage categories, findings that suggest that packaging is not likely to be a primary driver of purchase for most products.  Nonetheless, innovative packaging is a value-add that can determine product format or brand choice—especially given that consumer aren’t totally happy with packaging choices, either.  In fact, they don’t necessarily think very highly of manufacturers’ overall packaging efforts.  Packaged Facts survey data show that about 60% of consumers strongly or somewhat agree that manufacturers often make insignificant packaging changes.   And 45% think lighter weight or less bulky packaging is important.
More specifically, survey respondents have some common complaints across major food and beverage categories.  Most cluster around consumer frustrations with easy opening and closing, resealing, maintaining freshness, and food safety issues.    

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