Singing from the shelf: ways to make your packaging stand out

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Did you know that two out of three supermarket selections are made at the point of purchase and that during a shop the average consumer encounters approximately 300 brands every minute? We are bombarded with choices and shoppers are looking for ways to help them navigate their selections. Known as the “silent salesman”, packaging can be used to differentiate your product and communicate your brand values at a glance. Naturally, the core purpose of packaging is to provide a sense of safety and product integrity. With the impact of the pandemic, consumer concern over disease transmission has witnessed demand for products that can be disinfected quickly, promote safety and encourage hygienic use. Mintel (2020) forecasted that more brands will look to active packaging, which is the incorporation of an active system into packaging to deliver increased quality or extend shelf-life. So Fresh is an American-based company that manufactures a film that infuses natural extracts into another film or container to inhibit mould growth and extend the shelflife of food. For consumers to feel safe when shopping, new innovations around the use of antimicrobial materials and tamper-proof packs are also driving developments within packaging design. However, for smaller producers that may not be able to afford the investment in such technologies, using on-pack information and graphics is another valuable way to offer consumers reassurance and trust in your brand. With the recent COP 26 conference, sustainability remains hot on the agenda. For many years the food industry has been focused on plastic reduction and making progress towards the UK Plastics Pact (Mintel, 2020). For example, last year drinks giant CocaCola rolled out their paperboard multipack topper to replace plastic wrap on all canned multipacks, saving on both plastic and CO2. In 2020, Mintel reported that the top three consumer concerns relating to food packaging and waste were: food packaging ending up in the sea (59 per cent); food waste (45 per cent); and food packaging going to landfill (41 per cent). As this emphasis on responsible packaging continues, promoting related initiatives and ensuring that your food packaging is easy to recycle should be a key consideration within your packaging design. This year Australian bread brand Tip Top introduced a small paperboard bread tag, replacing 11 million plastic tags by the end of 2021. Local producer White’s recently launched their Organic Jumbo Oats which have been repackaged in a new bigger 1kg recyclable pack and bear the FSC Mix, Soil Association Organic, EU Organic and 2019 Quality Food Winner logos. Improving the user experience with packaging design is key to making your brand stand out on the shelf. Digitally engaged consumers are seeking a way to connect with brands and the use of on-pack information like QR codes, graphics and promotion of social media channels can help deliver on those needs. For example, Cru8 Paleo Banana & Cacao Loaf has been repackaged and is now available in a newly designed 250g pack featuring the Boundless Energy, Boundless Health, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram logos. Some recent packaging innovations within the food industry have also added value to categories that have become commoditised or are simply deemed as uninspiring. While spreads are typically purchased in tubs like butters, last year plant-based brand Nutiva introduced its coconut butter in a squeezable pouch to broaden the number of uses for the product like baking or adding it into a smoothie. The famous salt brand Saxa also recently introduced a bottled sea salt spray that helps consumers control their salt usage as well as provide one per cent of the recommended daily intake per spray. Another packaging innovation using a spray bottle is that of Indonesian start-up Kopitagram Coffee that launched its Real Banana Milk drink, which is designed to be sprayed into the mouth after eating spicy food to help cool it down. Whether it is safety, sustainability or the desire to deliver an added-value experience, packaging offers producers the opportunity to stand out in-store and engage your customer. FMCG and retail expert Jeremy Garlick, owner of Insight Traction, provided three top tips to food producers when developing their packaging communications: ensure your packaging is instantly recognisable, easy to process and the obvious choice when positioned next to your competitor on the shelf. At Ulster University Business School we have the facilities available to explore what consumers think about your packaging. Our Virtual Reality Consumer Insight Lab and our Food and Consumer Sensory Testing Suite host two environments to better understand how packaging design and information can influence consumer behaviour. n For more information please get in touch with me at [email protected]

Period15 Nov 2018

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleSinging from the Shelf: Ways to make your packaging stand out
    Degree of recognitionLocal
    Media name/outletFarm Week
    Media typePrint
    Duration/Length/Size~800 words
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Producer/AuthorDr L Hollywood
    PersonsLynsey Elizabeth Hollywood