Study identifies key brand boosting packaging attributes

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Brand Brand management

The visual and functional characteristics of food and drink packaging were rated as being key in benefiting a brand - with appearance trumping practicality, new research has said.

These are the some of the conclusions from a study by consultants Pira International on brand strength and packaging. Sustainability and adding value were also highlighted. The research assesses how brand managers quantify packaging performance when measuring brand strength.

The group said it wanted to provide suppliers into the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry with an insight into how brands can boost the value of packaging to build brand strength.

The researchers looked at 30 end-uses – including 18 food and drink uses and seven personal care applications - and highlighted the top ten brand strengths.

In terms of marketing, the paper said differentiation is key to ensuring the brand stands out. Brand differentiation means the packaging allows the product to outshine its rivals to make “a brand more valuable than the competition in the eyes of the target consumer”.

Pira found that brand strength was strongly linked to packaging performance, which could be measured using a raft of metrics; functional, ethical, financial, visual and differential.

Product satisfaction was identified as the most important strength – and the one most likely to promote repeat purchase, frequency of purchase and brand reputation.

Packaging scorecard

Top of the packaging performance scorecard in terms of brand strength are a raft of attributes related to appearance.

Most important were that the packaging should be recognisable and the colours used pleasing to consumers. It highlighted the importance of “memorable and distinguishable brand identity and instant standout”.

Next came the ability to “preserve quality”​ and its ability to appeal to the targeted consumer. Characteristics such as product protection, ease of use and recyclability were all in the top 10 most-valued attributes- but positioned lower down.

There report identifies “a hierarchy of needs for packaging performance”​ – beginning with the visual before moving onto how well it performs its job.

“As the journey progresses the importance of aesthetics gives way to functionality”,​ concluded the report. “There follows an interaction at an emotional and rational level, which if successful, will result in repeat purchase and indeed brand loyalty.”

Adding value

Packaging’s role in reinforcing the strength of the brand lies in it communicating the product’s benefits.

“In order to strengthen the relationship between the brand and the consumer, and consequently the contribution of packaging performance to brand strength, over the next five years brand owners will focus on brand recognition, improved usability and reduced carbon footprint to steer packaging development,”​ said Pira.

The group cited evidence that FMCG consumers are “more conscious of packaging waste” and there was a “greater onus on packaging functionality in terms of reliability due to the frequency of repeat exposure”.

There is also a trend away from the traditional focus of visual differentiation towards “adding value”

Food and beverage packaging

In food packaging, the appearance and use of graphics remains important to identify brands. Changes to the packaging structure – shape – are still under-developed compared to the other categories, indicating latent potential for greater packaging diversity, driven by changing consumer needs”, said the research.

Sustainability is far more prominent in beverage packaging “due to the high profile these products enjoy in terms of volume and frequency of consumption and publicity”’.

The mass production scale of beverage brands heightens rewards for cost-efficient packaging in terms of sourcing, materials and weight, it added.

Related topics Market trends

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