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New Trends in Food Packaging Influenced by Technology, Consumer Preferences
According to market research firm The Hartman Group, the present food culture has undergone numerous shifts, particularly in the area of shopping and consumption. These new trends have impact on consumers’ expectations for new grocery products and packaging.
The packaging of a product indeed holds a significant influence on a consumer’s decision whether or not to buy. While past experiences and personal taste of consumers come into play, the appearance of the product has a major effect in choosing which product to buy. A shopper’s eyes tend to focus on the shelf containing products which are colorful or have strong packaging.
In a study published by the University of Miami and California Institute of Technology in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said that packaging of a food product has a proven and important influence on the consumer purchase decision in-store.
They noted that the aesthetic aspects of products’ packaging such as color, brightness and design will influence where the shopper’s eyes will focus on the shelf. Their verdict was that visually appealing products attract consumers’ eyes over that other products on the shelf, and increase the time spent on these products by shoppers.
The product’s capacity to attract a shopper’s attention has a significant influence in his decision to buy a certain product or brand. According to Milica Mormann, one of the authors of the study, “the big idea is that perceptual processes happen in the brain in parallel with economic value computations and thus influence how economic decisions are made.”
In its study of the changing nature of consumer attitudes and behaviors with regards to packaged goods, DataMonitor noted that sustainability has a major impact on a shopper’s attitude towards packaging. In addition, health benefits attributed to packaging such as preservation or enhancing freshness, protection of the product, and information with regards to the ingredients are also important to buyers.
DataMonitor also considered the convenience of the packaging as one of the factors that influence the decision of consumers in buying the product. Packaging innovations should make the consumer’s buying process and actual consumption easier. Convenience in packaging has become even more important as consumers today are generally busy.
Lack of time has driven consumers to choose products which can help facilitate their crammed lifestyles and give them more leisure time, thus the growth in consumption of ready meals. This need for convenience-oriented products have also driven manufacturers to further innovate their packaging to comply with this trend.
Manufacturers are also changing their package designs to keep up with shifting consumer tastes and stand out on the supermarket shelf to capture the consumer interest. However, aside from product design, manufacturers can make their products more value-laden for consumers.
One way manufacturers can help their consumers is to extend the shelf life of their products through packaging and process innovation. Manufacturers should find ways to introduce products with a longer shelf life without reducing quality and risking food safety. In addition, the packaging of the product should provide clear and easy-to-read information about its ingredients and expiration. The packaging should also have clear guidelines as to storage, freezing or defrosting, and preparation instructions.
Other convenience-related options for manufacturers is to provide a variety of portion sizes for consumers to choose from, make their packaging easy to dispose, and provide information on the label as to the proper storage of the product to avoid spoilage.
At the 2013 Global Sustainability Summit, organized by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Assn. (GMA), some insights were revealed on how the consumer’s experiences with food shopping, preparation, and consumption are changing.
Among the findings are that consumers expect more from food manufacturers and the products. Consumes are no longer driven by product loyalty but they try a certain product based on the information they gather from various sources of information like the internet, cooking shows or blogs.
In the same summit, it was also revealed that America is becoming a nation of eaters, not cooks. The Hartman Group found that today’s consumers are relying more on manufacturers and retailers, and that there is less food planning because they can get food anywhere.
In addition to personal preferences, general appearance, visual attractiveness and capacity of product packaging to attract attention significantly influence the decision to buy. Manufacturers see this as an opportunity to increase their sales by designing more visually attractive packaging that will attract shoppers’ eyes in-store and bring attention to their products.
One interesting finding is that 46% of adult eat alone. According to The Hartman Group, this means manufacturers should create packaging for single people. And with a 53% people taking on snacking more than meals, manufacturers should find ways to make their products more healthful.
“There are some really fascinating shifts in what we call food culture that have huge implications for a wide variety of marketplaces,” said Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group.
Soupman (OTCQX: SOUP - http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=SOUP) the maker of The Original Soupman soup, has recently embarked on an aggressive sales campaign by improving the packaging designs of their products. The campaign is in keeping with the company’s efforts for the soup brand to maintain its stronghold of the $6 billion retail soup market.
“We wanted to create classy and eye-catching new package graphics that are as good as our soups so consumers could immediately spot The Original Soupman soup on the shelf in the soup aisle,” Soupman CEO Lloyd Sugarman said. “We firmly believe that as we increase the attention of the shopping audience to our cartons it will directly translate into more trial and repeat sales.”
The soft and reusable package of its soup brands also gives the company a competitive edge over other canned soup makers. Soup man is engaged in manufacturing and selling to grocery chains and other outlets and to its franchised restaurants under the brand name The Original Soupman.