Nov 212014
 

From technology to consumer product goods, millennials are changing the landscape of the world we live in. Also known as Generation Y, millennials were born between 1980 – 1995 with technology at their fingertips and an inherent need to multitask.* Marketers look at millennials and see the nightmares that keep them up at night. Unlike the well-studied and understood Baby Boomers—the largest impactful generation previously, millennials appear to be eccentric and unloyal shoppers.

  • Rarely use a shopping list, decisions are made at shelf
  • Only one in five set a budget before shopping
  • View purchasing private label brands as socially acceptable
  • Task-oriented shoppers, purchasing products only when they run out
  • Don’t research products online
  • Main resource for product information are peers or customer reviews
  • Most shop alone at grocery stores
  • Prefer specialty stores to large box stores
  • Want tangible discounts such as 15 percent more product or BOGOs (Buy One Get One) instead of digital coupons**

So, what is it millennials are searching for when they browse the shelf?

Millennials have been the strongest advocates for health in CPGs. They don’t just want healthy options; they expect them. Their tech-savvy has given them unlimited access to information and now they expect the brands they buy to share the same transparency. They want to know every process of their product’s life cycle from where it was grown/made, who made it, to the quality of the ingredients and how many are in the product. It doesn’t stop there; they also want to know whether the company producing the product has corporate social responsibility and if the packaging is sustainable. Did I mention they expect the product to be affordable? With 80 million millennials, the sooner brands embrace the millennials’ expectations, the quicker their products will disappear from shelves.

CLEAR COMMUNICATION OF QUALITY AND INGREDIENTS

Late July is a brand known for its always Organic and Non-GMO products. When they launched a line of mini sandwich cookies and bite size crackers—appealing to the growing segment of millennial mom’s choosing healthy options for their children—Late July included quality descriptors on the package. (Produced Without Synthetic Pesticides, No Trans Fat or Corn Syrup, No Artificial Flavors, Colors, or Preservatives). A USDA Organic seal and Quality Assurance International seal prove the organic product claims. Quickly and clearly communicating the quality of the ingredients is one way to win millennials purchase decision.

SUSTAINABILITY

Elemental Essentialz, a Texas based eco-friendly household cleaning products company uses repurposed wine bottles to hold their safe, zero-waste household cleaners. This mindfulness to both product and packaging is exactly the type of sustainability and corporate responsibility millennials search for on shelves.

BENEFITS

White Rock Beverages, an American brand since 1871, know consumers—especially millennials are looking for health benefits when grocery shopping. In order to convey the brand’s premium position regarding purity, integrity, flavor, and value, White Rock uses callouts to draw the consumer’s attention and differentiate from competitors. The callouts on the package include triple filtered water, use of cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup (mixers), zero sodium (club sodas), and zero calories (except ginger ale and tonic water). The health benefits of White Rock beverages versus other carbonated drinks is clearly represented and help consumers searching for a healthier option make an easy decision.

VISUAL APPEAL

Apps like Instagram have allowed millenials to become powerful voices for products and packaging. Where once, a person may recommend a product to a few friends, now they can share their recommendations with the world. Hashtags like #foodstagram on cell phone images have created an obsession with the visual appeal of food. Companies like Udi’s Gluten Free have embraced this obsession. Udi’s products utilize windows and high quality photography to give the customer a clear sense of what they are purchasing.

CONVENIENCE

YoCrunch embraces the fast health conscious lifestyle most Millennials lead. Their low fat yogurt, combined with the variety of toppings (from whole grain granola to M&M’s) in their separated domed top cups, is a perfect convenient option for the multitasking millennial.

With an enthusiastic push toward health, millennials are changing the way products are made and packaged, and it seems, brands are letting them.

[Disclosure: All product packaging in this article was designed by Hughes Design Group]

References:

* http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-millennials-are-coming/

** http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/238211/getting-millennials-to-buy-cpgs-bring-on-the-bogo.html

Nov 132014
 

The heavily saturated additives and artificial flavors of the nineties are gone. Healthy eating has hit the mainstream and by all accounts, is here to stay. In a recent survey of 1,000 Good Housekeeping readers, 91 percent said, “If I eat right, I will probably stay healthy.”*

It may come as no surprise that the health food movement for humans has also expanded into the pet food industry. This is part of a humanization trend. The health conscious owners want to provide the same dietary nutrition to their four-legged friends.

Seeing this as an opportunity, pet food brands have embraced the change. They’ve updated their ingredients in regular lines and introduced premium, and in some cases, super premium options. They are right to do so. By the end of this year, premium pet foods will account for 42 percent of pet food sales, followed by regular pet food at 30 percent, and value pet food at 12 percent. When you compare these percentages to the $28 billion in pet food sales for 2013 alone and the estimated $33 billion sales pet food will have by 2018, it is clear their decisions were advantageous.**

Now, when a pet owner enters a retail location, they have the choice of real meat, grain-free, fruits and vegetables, vitamin enriched, and combinations of the above to feed their furry friends. Even treat lines, the long believed unhealthiest of animal offerings, have gotten a makeover. Besides being a reward, the new and improved bite sized treats are now supplemental to a pet’s overall health.

Wellness CORE recently introduced SuperFood Protein Bars, a nutrient-dense protein nugget without fillers or grain, and wholesome superfoods. It has already won the 2014 Editor’s Choice Award for Best Pet Food/Treat by SupplySide.***When a brand such as Wellness introduces their newest product to the saturated pet food/treat industry, they must leverage their brand and market it in order to succeed. Most pet owners can tell you that pet food, whether wet or dry, is nothing to look at. Unlike a head of lettuce, or an apple, pet food is not capable of selling itself. So how does a brand communicate the great benefits of its product when pet food shoppers have limited time to research brands and make purchase decisions?

Packaging.

When executed well, packaging targets a specific demographic, communicates the product benefits, and has a design and color palette that matches the product while unifying the brand.

Know the Demographic

Unfortunately, pets have yet to grow opposable thumbs and learn the monotonous task of buying their own food, leaving the purchasing power to their human companions. There are two variables a pet food brand must consider when leveraging their brand to new categories and varieties. These variables also have a direct influence over the packaging.

Firstly, the pet food is being marketed to the owner. What is the owner’s lifestyle? Are they willing to pay more for the added benefits and nutrition to their animals’ food? Do they shop at large box stores or small pet specialty locations? Are they brand loyal? If they are, would they be less brand loyal with treats and consider other options?

Secondly, the packaging must market to the animal that is consuming the product. What is the animal’s age? Is it active or inactive? Does it need to eat diet food? Does it have a restricted diet from food intolerances or sensitivities? Will it eat dry or wet food, or possibly a mixture of both? It is a large or small breed?

Wellness Complete Health offers balanced natural nutrition and overall health for canines and felines. From puppies and kittens to senior pets, and those with joint to digestive problems, there is a food catered to them. This specificity to the animal’s health and wellness needs helps elevate the premium quality of the brand.Communicate the Benefits

Having a great product is important. Knowing how to communicate this to the customer is equally important.

For a time sensitive shopper in today’s fast paced world, packaging is the primary marketing tool to communicate all the pet food benefits. It is important to make the benefits easy to find and read.

When Wellness introduced the CORE Grain Free line of pet food, they used a benefit checklist on the face of the package like many of their other lines. The checklist offers the customer immediate information on nutrients and ingredients within the product. It is a great tool to educate a shopper in the time it takes to browse a shelf.

Design Consistency

In pet food, a product line may be segmented by flavor, texture (soft and chewy, hard and crunchy), or category. Packaging must connect the overarching brand to these varying product options.

If a product line has multiple flavor offerings, a brand can utilize color to differentiate flavors. For example, Beef may be red while Salmon is blue and Lamb is green. In regard to texture, a brand can use different structures such as a box for crunchy treats compared to a re-sealable bag for fresh, chewy treats. For different categories such as cat and dog, or senior dog and puppy, the packaging can be differentiated by both size and structure.

Through all these decisions, the design must remain consistent. To accomplish this, packaging employs brand blocking. Maintaining a design across SKUs, the brand block can use color, type, icons, or logo to create consistency on shelf. Wellness has a reputation for their strong use of brand blocking.

For example the Simple line, created for dogs with food sensitivities, uses a blue color, icon of a dog, bright type, and the recognizable Wellness logo to maintain brand identity at shelf, whether in can or bag form. A color band at the bottom of the structures communicates the different flavor varieties. If a customer walks down an aisle, they will easily be able to distinguish the Simple line by its consistent identity across SKUs.

With expected sales to reach $33 billion by 2018, pet food brands must seize this time sensitive opportunity to expand and grow. If current trends in health and wellness are anything to go by, the premium and super premium pet food lines will offer the greatest ROI. However, for brands to truly succeed they must strategically focus on their product as much as their packaging by knowing the demographic, communicating the benefits, and maintaining design consistency across the line.

 

[Disclosure: All Wellness Brand packaging used in this article was designed by Hughes Design Group]

References:

*http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/product-reviews/research-institute/american-food-stats

**http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/report-pet-food-sales-to-reach-33-billion-in-2018-as-consumers-spend-more-on-premium-and-healthy-products-835498577.html

***http://www.supplysideshow.com/galleries/2014/10/ig-2014-cpg-eca-winners.aspx?cmpid=ECAWEBSITE

Nov 162012
 

The “packaging” in shopper marketing

We don’t need to convince you.  You already know how important package design is in the marketing mix.  But do you really know if your packaging is working the hardest it can at retail, delivering its very best at the “first and second moment of truth”?  Is it a key pillar in your shopper marketing strategy, contributing upstream in the planning process?  How much improvement and advocacy have you realized from talking with shoppers about packaging?

This article is about the “packaging” in shopper marketing.  It’s about delivering success through one of the most powerful mediums we’ve grown to witness.  It’s about packaging as a strategy, not a tactic.  Package design manifests ideas.

The relationship between packaging and shopper marketing

An admittedly rhetorical question: have you ever seen a retail aisle without packaging on products?  No, because packaging is marketing for shoppers.  And like any marketing vehicle, strategy and insights play a critical role.

List the objectives and core principles of shopper marketing, and you can use the same for package design.  A few examples to illustrate our point:

  • Accelerate trial and consumption
  • Drive perceived value and higher retails
  • Promote quick purchase decision

The design process is linked to the same objectives and research rigor as shopper need states.  In fact, packaging and shopper marketing share similar behavioral models with regard to human communication — from colors to shapes, numbers to words.  So, it’s reasonable to expect that package design is equally or even more important creatively than the images and call-to-action on POS materials.

 Package design is the first moment of truth at retail

To this point, we have been faithful to the “first moment of truth (FMOT)” retail concept.  Born several years ago by the team in Cincinnati, it has been an effective way to focus research and marketing resources on certain aspects of the shopping dynamic.  But having seen how packaging positively moves the sales needle over and over again, the FMOT concept to us has become much more specific.  Our belief is that the “first moment of truth” is not at-shelf — it resides at packaging, at-shelf.

This is not a play on words.  It is fundamental to integrating the role of consumer and shopper, as they are not mutually exclusive targets at retail.  Function, emotion and value are intersecting need states in-store.  Packaging is one of very few tools to deliver a visual hierarchy that integrates all three (3) of these purchase drivers.

With all the new, flashy marketing technologies available today, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the most powerful communication vehicle available to us is truly “analog”.  Packaging is a critical element of retail engagement, because brands and their products ultimately end up in the eyes and hands of shoppers.

Packaging is scrutinized at the second moment of truth

Products, along with their packaging, are taken home.  Intended benefits have been communicated, item purchased and the “second moment of truth” realized — use or consumption of the product.  As packaging is linked to the shelf at FMOT, so it is to product at this phase.  Packaging signals expectations, while the product itself drives satisfaction — they are forever attached.  Describing this connection more viscerally, it is a measure of how well the brand is telling the truth.  Done well, brand repeat and advocacy will grow, increasing direct conversations with consumers.  These dialogues will inspire continuous improvement and provide zero-cost awareness through “earned” media.

Better link packaging with shopper marketing initiatives

As a community of brand leaders, let’s make packaging a critical part of the shopper marketing discipline.  This is an invitation to review how well you are doing and to consider package design a strategic imperative — integrated early during marketing planning cycles, considered a key element to shopper initiatives and leveraged for consumer satisfaction.

As you can tell, we are passionate about packaging done well.  We’ve seen it work again and again (and seen it’s power destroy brands).  So, here are a few things we’ve learned along the way to help make your design initiatives more effective and better win at retail:

  • Move package design upstream in the research and planning process – make it a consideration within consumer and shopper strategies
  • Utilize “visual” briefs when developing brand creative elements – advertising to promotions, POS to packaging
  • Ensure packaging not only delivers brand positioning but makes a commercial difference on-shelf
  • Scrutinize how well you are telling “the truth” – does the partnership between packaging and product ultimately deliver satisfaction

Be hungry for consumer feedback – repurpose the positive and embrace every bit of the negatives

 Posted by at 12:06 PM
Aug 262011
 

When there is a seemingly infinite number of choices, “findability” is the KEY to your brand’s connection with consumers. As Wired magazine tech guru, Kevin Kelly, puts it in his fantastic article Better Than Free, “unfound masterpieces are worthless”. Not to compare a box of cereal to a Van Gogh, but if your package gets lost in the sea of products on today’s store shelves, it doesn’t even get to be a BRAND.

It’s a daunting problem, but creating brand loyalty isn’t impossible if you understand the obstacles your product faces to be noticed. Justin Crout’s seminal book Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Competition still paints the picture best. With printed knowledge doubling every 4 to 5 years, 4,000 books published daily and the internet growing by 1 million sites a day, the demands on a person’s time and attention are overwhelming to say the least. Since those statistics were first published in 2000, the pace has only quickened! So, even taking into consideration that Crout’s calculation that the average person has been exposed to an excess of 140,000 commercials by the age of 18(!!!) is somewhat softened by TV viewers’ ability to fast forward through those commercials with their DVRs; consumers are being bombarded by media in a relentless way. Standing out in such a competitive environment has never been more crucial to the “findability” of your brand.

Further complicating things are the mass of technological trends that have become a part of our daily lives since 2000. Smart phones, instant messaging, texting, Facebook, Twitter: these devices and apps all represent separate, individual content streams, often overlapping and competing for attention simultaneously. One recent market research study by Crowd Science found that about 10% of consumers under 30 actually follow brands on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, which certainly makes it a trend worth watching. The same research found that while younger generations, ranging in age from 16-49, are far more brand aware than older consumers, their loyalty to brands varies widely. Generation X-ers(those born between 1961-1981), tend to be the most loyal to the brands they like, sticking with them even if there is a cheaper alternative readily available. Whereas, the Generation Y crowd(born roughly between 1982-1995), like to mix it up and try new brands more often.

The most successful brands to clear these hurdles and be SEEN by consumers will be the ones best able to make, and maintain, connections that make people repeat customers. Strong brandmarks and packaging that communicate a clear DIFFERENCE from their competitors, will go a long way towards pushing through the clutter and achieving that “findability” absolutely necessary for today’s brands.

 Posted by at 3:47 PM
May 252011
 


 

I just ordered a pair of Tory Burch shearling boots because they were on end of year clearance, and much less than a new pair of Ugg’s would have cost me for next season. I have to admit I am a Tory Burch fan because of the logo-big, bold buckles of intertwining T’s…that’s what it’s all about.

The boots are a little understated, but the packaging they came in…WOW! Is there such a thing as overbranding? Logos on the box, signature orange box wrap with logo sticker; the invoice was in a boldly branded envelope with a coupon for future purchase and, of course, a logo on the invoice as well.

If there’s one thing Tory does right, it’s suck consumers in like me, who are in it for the BIG BRAND SPLASH….some may think it’s overkill, but to me, this is why I dig the brand!

Apr 192011
 

 

When was the last time you set foot inside a pet store and really took a good look around? Were you surprised at the variety of brands and the diversity of products? According to market research from the American Pet Products Association(or APPA), you shouldn’t be. APPA’s research has found that annual spending in the pet industry for 2010 was $48.35 billion. And that’s just here in the U.S. That is a LOT of kibble! But this consumer trend goes FAR beyond just pet food.

In a recent series of articles in the New York Times, an entire section on Health was devoted to the many ways pets have a positive impact on their owner’s health and sense of well being. For many of these pet “parents”, there is an unbreakable emotional bond with their pet “children” which makes them an integral part of the family. That bond drives pet owners in record numbers to the shelves of pet stores where they spare no expense buying premium food, treats and specialty toys.

Though the majority of pet owners typically have dogs or cats; small animals like hamsters and mice, birds, fish, and even reptiles, figure largely in the surge of pet industry sales as well. Which translates into an explosion of categories and brands that cater to each and every type of pet’s individual needs. And if the APPA projections are correct, this trend of a ballooning pet supplies market is just the beginning. According to their calculations, pet owners are going to spend an estimated $50.84 billion in 2011. So you can expect some pretty tough positioning for brands looking to stand out as leaders in this very competitive market.

 Posted by at 5:55 AM
Apr 042011
 

Make this one of your regular stops to see what’s new in the constantly changing world of Package Design and Branding!

Since we are forever scanning store shelves, and hyper-aware of emerging packaging trends; we thought we’d share some of our best thoughts with you!

From boxes to bags and bottles to cans; we’ll highlight all the things that work for your brand, and point out some of the things that won’t.

 Posted by at 9:39 PM