The Print Business Outlook Conference 2018, organized by NPES and Telangana Offset Printers Association (TOPA) and held in Hyderabad on 11 March, saw some interesting presentations on packaging design, how it influences consumer behavior and some of the trends dominating the packaging design space. Alex Center, design director, the Coca-Cola Company spoke about his experience in the packaging design industry and where is it headed. Center has spent most of his professional career being creative on behalf of the beverage brand Vitaminwater, which was bought over by Coca-Cola Company for US$ 4.1 billion in 2007.
According to Center, branding is a feeling about a product. “It is a sum of every single experience that customers have with what you are making,” he says, adding that a designer’s job is to influence the feeling that customers have about a brand. He cited the example of Vitaminwater, which according to him is an amazing case study on how the power of packaging can be used to build a relationship with people.
“Vitaminwater packaging designs have tried to convey what they would do for you rather than tell what the content tastes like. So, they have been named Focus, Energy or Revive rather than orange or fruit punch or lemon. This helps customers figure out how these brands fit into their lives,” Center says.
He stresses that brand personality is very important because supermarket shelf is getting very crowded. “There are a number of options and that is when the personality of packaging becomes important,” he shares.
While concluding his presentation, Center highlighted a couple of points. He said that packaging designers are being put into positions of power with an aim to have a cohesive brand experience. “A lot of companies are now appointing chief design officers,” he says. He also believes that packaging designs will gradually start catering to individuals rather than the masses.
Paul Jenkins, founder and managing director, The Packhub
Packaging innovative trends
An equally interesting presentation was delivered by Paul Jenkins, founder and managing director, The Packhub. He began by highlighting packaging innovative trends such as growing demand for on-the-go packaging, added functionality, personalization and sustainability, among others.
Demand for grab and go packaging is increasing because the share of grab and go snacks is increasing in overall snacks segment as meal times and places are getting increasingly blurred with continued growth in 24 x 7 lifestyle. Brands are now offering added functionality in their packaging as technological advances are allowing them to offer more through packaging to create a point of difference over retail own brand products, Jenkins says. Also, more discerning consumers expect packaging to deliver more added value and better functionality.
One of the biggest reasons that brands are now increasingly looking for personalization through brand design is because the millennials pushing the agenda—me, me, me, Jenkins argues. Also, digital revolution is opening up opportunities in terms of print and platform to create. Sustainability is another important trend that will drive brand design as consumers are becoming sensitive about environmental issues. “The global market for sustainable packaging is forecast to reach US$ 244 billion by 2018,” he says.
Leveraging packaging design
While Centre and Jenkins talked about broader trends and developments in the packaging design space, Manoj Kulkarni from Neilson Company spoke about how companies and brands are unable to fully utilize the power of packaging design and how this can be corrected.
Citing a study done by Neilson on packaging design, Kulkarni says that 90% of redesigns fail to deliver meaningful sales improvement for the brand and 50% of the time, package redesigns fail to test equal to or better than the current product on shelf. There are various reasons for this. Designers say that the most interesting design routes often get cut because the client is wary of the risks involved. Brands say that they love to take more creative risks but don’t have a way to know if consumers will allow them to take the creative risks. According to Kulkarni, some common frustrations are that the design is too subjective or too political or too expensive or that the process is too long.
One of the measures that can be adopted to correct this is that the number of designs considered in market assessment goes up, which can up the performance on packaging fundamentals. In conclusion Kulkarni said that other measures that can be employed to unlock packaging performance are: understanding consumer trends, ensuring creative freedom, leveraging technological advancement, include consumer opinion at an early stage and make packaging look like a million bucks.