GLOBAL – Today’s consumers are increasingly busy, health-conscious, and looking for products that are tailored to their needs, engage them, are sustainable and safe, according to the new ‘Food & Beverage Packaging Trend report’ by Tetra Pak.
The packaging giant recently released a report that highlights five trends it thinks are most interesting for 2014, based on insights it has gained from its work with customers around the globe.
According to Tetra Pak, the five key consumer trends today are:
- Growing awareness about environmental issues
- The search by consumers for new products and experiences tailored to their needs
- Health awareness going mainstream
- The growing need for reassurance that products are trustworthy when food safety is at risk
- Convenient products becoming a key need for 'on-the-go' consumers looking for instant gratification.
Addressing environmental issues
As consumers become more aware of environmental issues, they are increasingly looking for responsible, sustainable solutions that are also simple for them to implement.
Product categories such as non-dairy protein beverages – including soy, rice and oat – organic beer, wine, coffee and tea are growing, according to the report: “Brands are moving away from clichés, daring to build their organic brand range with vibrant, colourful and fresh design cues.”
This means that eco-friendly packaging has evolved from merely using brown packaging, earthly colours and textured papers, and becoming more diverse and visually impactful.
At the same time, consumers now expect to be exposed to new things and being emotionally engaged by brands. Not only do products and experiences have to be tailored to their needs, there needs to be a certain “value-add” from every purchase.
“These consumers are demanding and if they are not satisfied, they will not buy the product again.”
This has resulted in a convergence of categories and cross category growth, bringing combinations of different worlds and offering consumers new experiences with, for example, tomato-flavoured ice cream and juice with milk/lacto-acid drinks – merging nutrition with refreshment, traditional with fun, and more.
More packaging is now being designed to become part of consumers’ lifestyle and to fulfil emotional needs. Packages that suit home interior styles, are the ‘perfect gift’, are limited editions and co-creations are more common these days.
Humor is also increasingly used as a way to catch consumers’ attention - using hidden messages, mixing illustrations with photography and choice of unexpected materials.
While some brands choose to use extremely clean/white simplistic packaging designs, others are experimenting with bolder more unique patterns or typography, noted the report, adding: “It is key to find the balance between popping out from the generic design cues on that specific retail shelf, and still being intuitive and relevant.”
Food for Health
There is an opportunity to make food and beverage products an integrated part of consumers’ busy lifestyles as they become increasingly interested in products with health benefits that are not just for the body, but also give a sense of mental well-bring.
Hence, besides having pure functional benefits – such as ‘strong bone’ or ‘heart heart health’ – products are becoming more emotionally based with soft claims such as ‘clarity’, ‘reduced stress’ and ‘improved concentration’.
New ingredients and flavours are also being imported from other cultures to enrich products and differentiate themselves from competitors.
Design cues for healthy packaged products are diverse: some are soft, organic and wholesome, while others take the medicinal and functional food approach.
“Brands dare to challenge the established category codes and create new and hip aesthetics to express health in unique ways and therefore achieve stand out on the shelf,” noted the report. “Some brands don’t even use traditional halth cues more than the naming of the product.”
Packaging designs have to communicate quality assurance through safety seals, and traceability to understand where the product really comes from.
An increasing number of brands are collaborating with local artists, not just to create impactful designs but also to tell the story of local product. The use of maps, flags or local symbols is also helpful in showing where the product comes from.
The 24/7 Lifestyle
Along with the search for on-the-go convenience, consumes are also trying to streamline and simplify life wherever possible. Yet at the same, the report highlighted, “Convenience food in 2014 does not mean that we have to go without culinary and aesthetical indulgence.”
Prepared food still has a negative connotation. Convenience food and beverages have to engage the consumer, allowing him/her to make the final touch before serving so the consumer feels as though the product was home-made. This could involve having to shake the beverage before drinking, or boiling the tortelloni for a few minutes so the consumer feels involved in the food.
Flavours and bases are important, and brands need to be able to offer a wide range of convenience products that provides flexibility and fulfils as many different consumer needs as possible within contemporary nutrition solutions.
Besides structural packaging designs that meet the functional needs of on-the-go consumption, details that tell the story of a home-cooked meal and personalised experiences are often portrayed on convenience packaging.
“The design is important for convenience foods and beverages to become lifestyle products,” said the report. “The product name and package format may tell the story of on-the-go, while the graphic design supports the aspiration to be more than the usual drink, a lifestyle product with beauty in mind.”