WOW Design is a six-year-old firm built by three young partners who have many years of industry experience. The three managing directors of the company – Deepti Kshir-sagar, Saswata Das and Sai Prasad Kar-alkar bring together an understanding of contemporary culture and consumers, brands and strategy. Between them they seem to have the requisite business acumen and leadership qualities to take advantage of the opportunities in packaging.
As a company, WOW is understandably well-versed in marketing, branding and packaging across a wide range of fashion, consumer product and FMCG sectors. We discussed a couple of case studies in the food and beverage segments with Saswata Das as he talked about some of WOW’s ideas and work in packaging design. Das is clear that his company is working in an environment that is still developing – budgets can be tight. And while the company works with several global brands, we found his case studies of Indian food and beverage products most interesting – these also embody his design firm’s motto – ‘thoughtful and fresh.’
There is an inherent energy in the large, diverse and fragmented Indian retail market as old products are rejuvenated and rebranded while new types of products look to strengthen their offerings and capture new demographics with increased discretionary spending power. Das boldly says, “Packaging is the new advertising since 70 to 80% of advertising suffers from spillover.” He goes on to add that in the beginning stages, “Brands may not have the money to advertise and at the same time in a modern retail layout, 50 to 60% of the decisions are made while facing the product on the shelf. This is especially true of the first decision to buy a new product.”
As an example, he speaks about Balaji Wafers the second largest chips manufacturer in the country based out of Rajkot. Balaji never advertises in print nor any other medium since they already have huge market penetration and are able to grow the brand simply by word of mouth and by using their packaging as a marketing medium.
Das explains, “I think in today’s time-crunched age, consumers are lured towards brands which make their task simpler. Packaging plays a large role in making it more convenient for the consumer to make the purchase decision. Simplicity sells and if the packaging makes it simpler for them to answer ‘Why should I buy this?’ or ‘Which one is for me?’ the chances of first trials and pick-ups increase dramatically.”
Amrit Foods has a strong foothold in the frozen food market with its Fresco Pollo brand. Although the brand owner believes in providing everything fresh and tasty from farm to fork, this core idea was not previously reflected on its packaging. WOW Design’s job was to give a fresh and more global look to the brand through its new packaging – a defined visual architecture and identity to put across the core idea of fresh and tasty from farm to fork.
Das admits that the frozen ready-to-heat or ready-to-cook food market in India is at a nascent stage although it is evolving with changing urban lifestyles and the increasing influence of Western food culture. However, frozen food has to contend with the Indian obsession with ‘fresh’ and hence lacks acceptance by consumers. A strong visual architecture had to be created for the new packaging where Fresco Pollo’s unique proposition of ‘Farm to Fork’ had to be projected along with its freshness, quality, taste and hygiene factors. At the same time, product differentiation within the range had to be more clear – it had to stand out on the shelf.
A strategic approach lead to a visual architecture with every element expressing the fresh from the farm story, while a vertical band with a fresh color scheme was highlighted with the variant names for strong product differentiation within the range. The range descriptors such as ‘Delicious Bites,’ and ‘Crispy Snackers’ as well as mnemonics emphasized freshness and taste. A simplistic illustration of the farm formed a key part of the visual language of the brand to reinforce freshness. Extremely appetizing food images were integrated with the architecture. The zip lock feature that retains freshness after multiple uses was tactfully highlighted with a special mnemonic stating ‘locked in freshness.’
Amul, a pioneer in the dairy products segment is said to have as many as 5,000 different stock keeping units (SKUs). Its milk drink, Amul Kool is a part of this quality offering in a modern format as a flavoured milk shake, targeting the current youth demographic with considerable spending power. Although the product had been around, its packaging did not visually or verbally communicate the fun factor adequately. It just wasn’t cool or lively or ‘fun’ enough to connect with its primary target audience.
The brand realized that milk by itself may not generate enough pull with the youth demographic but its fun-filled formats like flavoured milks and milkshakes could generate their own appeal. The packaging, brand imagery and graphics of Amul’s ‘Shakers’ needed a cool quotient to connect and keep up with the ever evolving youth demographic. Apart from establishing the cool factor, the brand needed a strong visual architecture to enhance its brand recall across the variants.
WOW Design’s solution projected the youthful demographic – active in the social and virtual space, and aspiring to be adventurous, sporty and thrill seeking. Cool meant vibrant colors, trendy forms, inspirational energy and movement on metal cans – a format that already has an up-market differentiation. The collage of trendy graphic elements were placed on a vibrant blue background as a constant through all the variants – providing a visual architecture as well as a strong category and consumer association with the brand offering.
“Packaging also plays a critical role in communicating the honesty and authenticity of the brand promise, which in turn leads to instilling trust in the brand. And today’s market environment, when the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has become active, making the consumer more alert and aware about things, packaging is the best tool for brands to create trust. The tall claims made on the FOP (Front of Pack) need to be actually ratified by the legal department and the declarations on the BOP (Back of Pack) need to be in clear and bold letters displaying the confidence and trustworthiness of the brand.” – Saswata Das, WOW Design
Saswata Das, Co-Founder, Director – Strategy & Marketing
Amul’s Kool redesign
“Practically 65% of Indian consumers are very young and so designing needs to be very contemporary to target this youth segment also. We feel that WOW’s design work is going along with the times and also going into many of the psychological aspects also which is very good. I think that as far as the new packaging of the Amul Kool products goes it has shaken up the market. One can see the product from a distance and the brand is very clear, trendy and a good design.” – Rupinder Singh Sodhi, managing director of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (AMUL), India’s largest food company.
Packaging South Asia is the cooperating media partner for drupa 2016 which is scheduled to be held from 31 May to 10 June at Dusseldorf, Germany.