The design of your food packaging is a crucial component of your overall brand strategy. Your consumer may encounter several marketing touchpoints before ultimately making a purchase, and consistency in messaging from awareness of your brand through to buying and using your product is key in creating a positive customer experience.
Improving your food packaging design to better convey core brand values and associated messaging has a cost, but can show positive ROI for years to come.
Food Packaging Design as a Marketing Tool
Your food packaging presents the most important opportunity to communicate with prospective customers. The average supermarket stocks over 40,000 products, all vying for premium shelf space and maximum shelf impact. With so many competing messages, optimizing the consistency and quality of your message should be top of mind when selecting a food packaging design and / or manufacturing partner.
Good design will protect the product and sufficiently explain what’s inside. Great packaging design conveys a message of added value and quality, and enables you to reach your highest sales potential by differentiating your product from similar products in the same (or lower) price category.
The primary goals of food packaging as a marketing tool are:
- To convey core brand values.
- To convey accompanying messaging about product characteristics, such as sustainability or ease of use.
- To provide a seamless experience as the customer transitions from any previous marketing touchpoints to the point of purchase.
- To allow the customer to easily determine the contents and quality of your product, as well as its intended use.
Brands that own a large piece of their category all have one thing in common: they place a high value on excellent food packaging design. Every product pulled from retail shelves by a consumer is a decision, often made in a split second and based entirely on emotion. Appealing to the senses and adding perceived value is the best way to sway that snap decision in your favor.
Functionality and Structure of Food Packaging Design
Many food producers hesitate to change the structure of their packaging. Costs aside, the risk of losing customer familiarity by radically changing the shape or appearance of a package may seem too great. Certainly there are arguments to be made against being “too” innovative—for example, if all of your competitors’ products are packaged the same way, consumers may not recognize your product as another option in that category.
Structural changes made for the purpose of adding convenience or value could include lightweighting, choosing a different substrate or film type, moving from rigid to flexible packaging, or adding a more convenient reusable closing feature. Using transparent film can help consumers easily make a quality judgment about your product. Reusable, recloseable packaging adds value to products aimed at consumers with busy lifestyles.
Partnering with a packaging provider that gives thorough consideration to all structural components of your package is key. The shape and style of your package depend on the requirements of your product, your retail shelf space, your target consumers, and what kind of graphics and features your package needs to have for maximum shelf impact. A fully customized dieline is a necessity for truly impactful food packaging design.
Informational and Graphic Elements
Text and graphics can tell a meaningful marketing story about your product. Even when text space is limited, brilliant graphics can quickly and effectively convey the quality of your product, its intended use (e.g. portion size), and tell a related story: environmental friendliness, simplicity or natural quality of ingredients, ease of use or preparation, and more.
If you invest in creating excellent graphics, be sure that your packaging provider can ensure they look as brilliant on your finished product as they do on your screen. Great graphic elements convey value, but poorly printed packaging cancels out that message entirely.
Consistency With Other Marketing Efforts
Consumers expect a consistent experience, meaning your marketing touchpoints must have consistent quality. If your marketing materials convey a message that your packaging does not, the disparity will confuse and lose potential customers.
Are your core brand values reflected in both your marketing efforts and the design of your food product packaging? Are you telling the same story with both?
Still, quite often, a consumer’s first interaction with your brand will be laying eyes on your product packaging—making it the most critical marketing piece for your brand to focus on.
Reinvigorating Your Food Packaging Design
Making changes to your existing food packaging design can be costly. However, this cost is only incurred once, and ROI can be seen for years to come.
There are other ways to cut costs while investing in greater quality packaging: lightweighting your package, investigating your film and substrate options, and comparing prices between suppliers. You may also consider raising prices if the value added by improving your packaging warrants it. We see time and time again that consumers are more than willing to pay a premium for products they perceive has having a higher value.
The first step toward adding value to your food packaging design is finding a packaging provider who understands your brand’s unique challenges and how to maximize your sales potential, with the experience and deep industry relationships to deliver success. Click here to see Emmerson Packaging’s capabilities, from pre-press design to brilliant flexographic printing and beyond.