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Trends (and morality) in Packaging

From Moral Consciousness to Innovation in Packaging, we explored the new trends in selling produce…

Think of Coke and you will think of its iconic shapely bottle. For Marmite, its jar, and bright yellow lid and label are what will spring to mind. And think of Pringles and it’s the tube that ‘pops’ into your head. Often, the first thing that comes to mind when we think of a brand is its packaging. Packaging is influential, yet its importance is often downplayed or overlooked.

Packaging has evolved from merely protecting a product to now being what consumers know best about a brand. Research has consistently shown that packaging can be instrumental in driving purchase intention, as well as positively affecting brand differentiation, awareness and loyalty[1].

The way in which a product is packaged influences consumer perception. Certain colours affect taste perceptions, such as black packaging being associated with bitter and strong flavours, whereas white products are often perceived as tasteless[2]. To demonstrate the importance of colour in branding, bring to mind some logos of global fast food outlets. Chances are that the colour red features heavily in a lot of these (McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc.). This is because red has been shown to increase a sense of urgency, as well as rev up people’s appetite[3]. Up to 90% of a consumer’s snap decisions about a product can be made based on colour alone[4]. Logistical considerations such as colour and shape (round shapes are perceived as healthier[5]) are often glossed over, but they can really make a difference.

A recent trend affecting packaging is environmental responsibility. As well as the need to adhere to Packaging Regulations (which aim to minimise environmental impact and increase efficiency) and an awareness of the negative impacts of waste, brands are becoming mindful of consumers’ desire to be environmentally responsible. Mintel’s 2018 trend ‘Moral Brands’ relates to how consumers are looking for brands that align with their own ethical values. 78% of UK consumers expect food companies to ensure all packaging is sustainable. In Northern Ireland, 79% of consumers believe that companies should help them be environmentally responsible and 1 in 4 people have not bought a product solely because it had too much packaging (TGI, 2017). Despite an expectation from consumers, food packaging carrying environmentally friendly claims fell well below half of new product launches in 2017.

However, some companies are determined to lay claim to their green credentials. Tesco have partnered with food packaging company Linpac as part of their 2025 aim for all of its packaging to be recyclable or compostable, Co-op have a target of making 80% of its own-label packaging recyclable by 2020 and Waitrose launched the first packaging in the UK to be made in from food waste in August 2016. These are just a select few examples of retail giants who are striving to make positive environmental changes.

Many smaller, innovative brands have also thought outside the box to develop sustainable packaging. Social enterprise snack brand Snact partnered with sustainable packaging company TIPA in 2016 to roll out fully compostable packaging across its entire range. The packaging is as protective and durable as standard packaging, but it decomposes within 180 days meaning that it can be thrown away with kitchen food waste. Snact relaunched in December 2017 and reducing food waste is now a clear message that Snact attaches to all its products.

Going a step further, Skipping Rocks Lab[6], a “sustainable packaging start-up” that creates packaging with low environmental impact has developed edible packaging. Their first product, ‘Ooho’, is an edible water bottle made from plant and seaweed extracts. Ooho does not have a flavour, unlike Herald’s innovative fruit-flavoured edible straws[7]

Environmentally responsible claims are set to become increasingly important in FMCG packaging, as the impact of plastic waste on the environment assumes dominance in the media. Brands must move with these trends while also being aware of the ways in which consumers make choices based on packaging.

If you want to unwrap more knowledge on this topic, contact joanne.curran@avbrowne.com


[1] Source: WARC.com – What we know about packaging


[2] Source: Science Direct


[3] Source: UK Business Adviser


[4] Source: Emerald Insight


[5] Source: Science Direct


[6] Source: http://www.skippingrockslab.com/


[7] Source: https://www.packagingnews.co.uk/