The study explored pleasurable aspects of packaging, as well as those that frustrated consumers at the shelf. “Frustrating experiences are opportunities to stand out in a category, to improve the design, typically the structural design or the way the structural design matches with the graphic design,” explains Danielle Sauvé, director of customer experience and insights at Danaher Product Identification Platform. “Frustrating experiences are poor user experiences, so studying usability and ergonomics, gaining empathy with the consumer, are ways to discover elements that can be improved.”
Among the key takeaways, snacks comprise the products most often purchased online. Of those surveyed, 75% of shoppers stated they foresee purchasing more of these items online in the next 18 months, compared to only 9% who disagreed. In addition, 38% purchased a new product because they enjoyed the label and packaging, while 28% switched brands because the packaging was different.
“Packaging can’t change too much at one time otherwise shoppers don’t recognize or trust the new package,” says Sauvé. “We see this over and over with consumer brands: they introduce a major packaging redesign and consumers reject it simply because it is so different. Instead, packaging leaders can take more of an evolutionary approach to maintain consistency by introducing small changes more frequently to achieve their goals of keeping packaging design fresh and modern.”
James Downham, president and CEO, PAC, The Packaging Consortium, believes consistent colors, packaging type and marketing images matter. It is also critical for a package sold in the Far East to match the same colors and design as one offered in North America. The same applies online, as 47% of people expect the product image online to exactly match the product packaging that arrives on their doorstep.
“It is very important that packaging found in-store is similar to packaging seen online and what gets shipped to the door of a shopper’s home,” says Sauvé. “Shoppers want that consistency, so the packaging can’t be too different or the shopper won’t trust that the item they have is the right one or may not trust that it’s authentic. This can result in costly returned shipments.”
“Consistent experiences make your product and brand look good and make consumers feel secure,” says Downham. “This study really reminded me why I love packaging: our industry matters. We need to continue to evolve with the ever-changing consumer demands; there are plenty of opportunities for brand leaders to elevate the packaging experience.”
Illustrating the shift toward new media and the impact of labels that pop off the shelf, 13% of shoppers say they have taken a selfie with a food or beverage product in the past three months. According to the study, these selfies and social media posts serve as indirect endorsements of the products.
In addition, consumers value trustworthiness in their products. In food and beverage items, 51% of consumers cited a preference for well-being or security. Meanwhile, only 15% stated that their favorite brand provided a sense of thrill and 12% reported it helped them to stand out from the crowd.
When it comes to trustworthiness, 74% of shoppers primarily agreed that they trust the ingredients listed on the package foremost, while 71% preferred the brand itself. Shoppers also agree that they support brands that share their values, with 65% reporting so in the Danaher survey. According to the company, these findings help validate the value of corporate social responsibility within large fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies.
“The quality of each individual unit of your packaging has got to be ‘selfie-ready,’” says Sauvé. “It’s time to make sure you have the quality tools in place to consistently deliver beautiful, on-brand colors and high print quality so any image taken of your brand’s product packaging can perform as well as a hero-shot from your design agency.”
Ultimately, however, the most important part of any package–specifically in regards to food and beverages–if often the last touch the manufacturer gives to the product: the expiration date. The Ingredients and Nutrition Facts are also critical for consumers. They rank far ahead of the more physical design elements, like the size and weight of the item, the packaging material and the item’s shape.