4 ways you can add value to your packaging
Packaging is multifunctional: it must protect the goods it contains, be convenient to transport, convey essential product information to the consumer and act as a promotional tool. Many companies have capitalised on the power of packaging and used simple design features to add value to their product.
In today’s competitive market, however, it is no longer enough to just have a great quality product. With such a wide variety of products to choose from, packaging can play a key role in a buyer’s decision making process. Adding value to packaging is therefore essential, and must respond to consumer and retailer needs. But what are buyer’s desires, and how are market leaders responding to them?
Offering consumers convenience
Today’s fast paced lifestyle means that consumers and buyers are looking for convenience above all else; designed for optimum ease of use. Buyers are looking for packaging which will make their lives easier such as lightweight materials, easy to open designs, resealable or reusable packaging, and compact enough to carry around effortlessly.
In the food industry, customer convenience has always been a top priority for packaging design. Yoghurts, for example, are available in multi-packs formed of individual pots, which can be detached, and taken on the go. It’s a simple concept, but it reflects our buying preferences.
This has been taken further by Shieltronics, a Dutch microwave oven technology firm. Using innovative microwave shielding technology, it has developed a tray that allows all the components of a complete meal – even those that don’t need heating – to be put into a microwave at the same time. This means that both meat and salad can be served at the desired temperature. Food preparation time is slashed and less packaging is used, significantly reducing waste and giving the consumer optimum convenience. This is an idea that is starting to really take hold too.
For instance, an increasing number of beverage companies are also using convenient flexible pouches rather than rigid packaging (e.g. cans and bottles) for their products. First used by the likes of Capri Sun, this convenient packaging solution has been adopted by many other brands: particularly by sport drink producers, such as Lucozade and Gatorade. Manufacturers can add even more features to flexible pouches, making their products even more convenient to use. Resealable functions and recyclable materials can be easily incorporated into these designs; adding even more value to drink pouches and the product itself.
Having health and safety high on the agenda
Whilst responding to customer needs for convenience is important, health and safety considerations are still of paramount importance. Packaging should not only keep the product in optimum condition, but should also be designed with the consumers well being in mind. Health and safety has been responsible for many packaging design features we now take for granted. Take medicine containers for example – childproof lids were specifically created to protect children from potential harm. In the food industry – safety-buttons on lids, which show that jars have been opened, have been on supermarket shelves for decades. A functional detail which helps retailers and buyers keep track of food condition. Food packaging also details sell-by and use-by dates, directly printing vital information on labels, or the packaging itself.
Manufacturers are also making the most of new technologies, to innovate and further protect their goods. In the food industry, antimicrobial technology is increasingly being used to reduce bacterial contamination. For example, films and trays incorporating antimicrobial agents are used for packaging meat, increasing its shelf life. Another recent innovation is the ‘bump mark’: a multi-layered label incorporating gelatine. Gelatine decays at the same rate as protein-based foods, such as meat. Initially smooth, the gelatine layer breaks down and becomes bumpy as it decays. The smoothness of the gelatine label tells consumers and retailers the condition of the meat, and whether it is safe to eat or not .
Advances in technology such as bump marks are inclusive (beneficial to visually-impaired people) and interactive. When these innovative features are in wider use, there could be no need for sell-by and use-by dates to be printed on packaging, potentially changing the future of food packaging.
Packaging’s most basic function is to protect products from damage. This is obviously important to retailers who need to be able to easily store and display items, as well as consumers who want to buy a product that is in optimum condition.
In the electronics industry, packaging has to protect delicate components from impact and excess electrostatic discharge. To combat this, the electronics industry has designed packaging solutions to guard against potential damage. One such innovation has been the ‘faraday cage’: a cleverly created enclosure to block electric fields. Additionally, anti-static boxes. dividers and layer pads now further enable electronics to be stored and transported worldwide without becoming compromised.
Cardboard boxes have also benefited from developments in paper technology, becoming sturdier and more dynamic as a result. With simple structuring changes, single wall cardboard boxes have been made to stand as strong as double wall cardboard boxes. It is now possible to achieve the same level of protection with less material, just with a simple structural change — sustainability in practice.
Aside from improving its strength, modifications such as this obviously have a positive impact upon the environment. Consumers care about their carbon footprint and government measures have made green issues a feature of people’s everyday lives. Think about household waste collections for instance, which use separate bins for glass, paper and plastics. It is therefore increasingly important that sustainability is built into the functionality of packaging, and recyclability of packaging is considered.
Value can also be added to packaging by keeping costs as low as possible, thus increasing profit margins for manufacturers. Cutting the costs of the packaging itself and making sure that savings are made throughout the supply chain, is paramount to product success. An expensive product doesn’t necessarily have to have expensive packaging. Consider alternatives to standard packaging such as larger containers used in logistics, as well as the primary packaging (e.g. cartons) for individual products.
Also consider recycled pulp cardboard which, as well as being sustainable, also keeps manufacturing costs down. The manufacture of thinner cardboard boxes will decrease weight, reducing fuel costs when loads are transported for instance. With thinner boxes and other packaging innovations, manufacturers can use their warehouse space more effectively and because there is less material to dispose of at the end, retailers will save money on waste management.
The rise of flexible packaging means that less material and less energy is being used in the manufacture of packaging. More items can be packed in boxes and transported. Weight and bulk is further decreased because product information can be printed directly onto the package, so separate labels aren’t needed. As the efficiency of manufacturing processes is enhanced to enable flexible packaging to be used more widely, cost-effectiveness will increase.
Adding value to packaging will not only benefit the end consumer, but additionally increase profits for manufacturers, make the importing and exporting process easier and help the planet at the same time. Packaging, therefore, is key to adding value to your product and your brand as a whole.