The magic touch of tactile food packaging

Sensory integration and synaesthesia

Flexible packaging that looks and feels like paper. Bemis earned a Silver Award in the 2017 DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation for their work on Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bakery Delights Tactile Packaging. Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bakery Delights package features textured film to represent a bakery treat that looks like its wrapped in kraft paper and twine. To uniquely capture the attention of millennial shoppers, the package is designed to look like paper, feel like paper, and even crinkle and crunch like paper. The thin-gauge flow wrap film is a highly practical, responsible alternative to paper laminates, extending the breakfast cake’s shelf life and appeal, while meeting brand owners’ need for packaging speed, hermetic seals and product protection.

We know that many grocery shoppers make impromptu purchase decisions while pursuing the multiple competing food products in each grocery aisle. There is a need to enhance products beyond traditional packaging features such as color, graphics and shape in order to keep them fresh and appealing to consumers.

Visual cues, such as eye-catching and attractive design, might have been at the forefront of the food product experience, but contemporary grocery shoppers now expect an integration
of sensory elements. While the looks of a package may initially spark a consumer’s interest in a product, it is how it feels in the hand that can impact the desire to purchase. Potential buyers are drawn to the tactile sensation of packaging. For instance, if packaging has a soft or silky feel, it can suggest that the product is luxurious or of high quality. Packaging is no longer about being seen but also about being felt, guaranteeing that touch is undeniably a significant part of the grocery shopper’s experience.

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Little Yum Yum Baby Food. The label is printed in
soy ink on cotton paper to increase the tactile quality
of the packaging

A study by the California Institute of Technology1 reveals that the activity of our orbitofrontal cortex, where sensory integration and decision-making are processed, is linked to our willingness to purchase products. Tactile food packaging appeals to the sense
of touch through weight, texture and softness, potentially swaying how we will perceive the product. In offering potential buyers the experience of synaesthesia, a phenomenon where one sensory experience will trigger another, tactile-focused food packaging enhances the ability to engage the senses and influence purchasing decisions. Through touch, the product’s emotional and intellectual messages are effectively conveyed.

magic touch
Wipak Walsrode won an innovation award for Arla Foods’ tactile lacquer packaging for cheese products

Take a fruit smoothie carton, for instance. Depending on the fruit ingredients included, the packaging may mimic the slightly waxy feel of a red apple, the fuzziness of a peach, or even the smoothness of coconut flesh. Sensations such as waxiness, fuzziness or smoothness suggests the freshness of the fruit used in the smoothie. The advancement of packaging technologies means that tactility can now come in many shapes and forms. From rubber-like sensations to embossed surfaces, there are a myriad ways for the food product to elevate the shopping experiences of potential buyers.

Tactile food packaging not only takes away the reliance on solely visual cues, but differentiates the product by offering a more nuanced experience in its consideration of how and why a product should feel the way it does. Despite the higher cost and longer production time, it is obvious that most grocery shoppers will find products with tactile packaging more appealing. In the future, tactile packaging, along with methods to reach the other senses of scent, taste and auditory, may be considered for a wholesome product experience.

The impact, resilience, and growth of responsible packaging in a wide region are daily chronicled by Packaging South Asia.

A multi-channel B2B publication and digital platform such as Packaging South Asia is always aware of the prospect of new beginnings and renewal. Its 16-year-old print monthly, based in New Delhi, India has demonstrated its commitment to progress and growth. The Indian and Asian packaging industries have shown resilience in the face of ongoing challenges over the past three years.

As we present our publishing plan for 2023, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2023 will reach 6.3%. Packaging industry growth has exceeded GDP growth even when allowing for inflation in the past three years.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 33% over the past three years. With orders in place, we expect another 33% capacity addition from 2023 to 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels have grown similarly. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

Even given the disruptions of supply chains, raw material prices, and the challenge of responsible and sustainable packaging, packaging in all its creative forms and purposes has significant headroom to grow in India and Asia. Our context and coverage engulf the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and further – to waste collection and recycling. We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers.

In an admittedly fragmented and textured terrain, this is the right time to plan your participation and marketing support communication – in our impactful and highly targeted business platform. Tell us what you need. Speak and write to our editorial and advertising teams! For advertisement , for editorial and for subscriptions

– Naresh Khanna

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