Magazine article Marketing

Attention Seekers

Magazine article Marketing

Attention Seekers

Article excerpt

Eye-catching and radical packaging design is essential to ensure brands a distinctive on-shelf presence.

If you consider a product's packaging secondary to its success in the marketplace think again. Brand managers are relying less on traditional advertising campaigns alone and realising the advantages of investing in creative and effective packaging.

Fierce competition, particularly in the FMCG and alcoholic drinks sectors, is putting pressure on brand owners to develop ever greater on-shelf appeal.

This is where good packaging plays the first of many important roles - drawing the consumers' attention.

But the pack must also perform well, protect its contents and be user-friendly. No matter how good the product is, if the pack malfunctions, injures the user or spills on opening, a repeat purchase is unlikely.

Retailers always reiterate how vital it is to consider the consumers' needs before sitting at the drawing board.

The most successful packs, such as Nestle's Nescafe Gold Blend jars, demonstrate what can be achieved when marketers, creatives and packaging specialists work together. This means involving the packaging technologists from the start as well as specialist in-house designers at the container manufacturers, label printers, packers, and most importantly, the retailers.

Large retailers are in a powerful position and nowhere is the on-shelf battle more in evidence than in the leading supermarkets where own-branding has become a force to be reckoned with.

Dissuaded from copy-catting following a spate of court cases, the supermarkets realise the strength of their own brands and are boldly creating their own distinctive brand identities. This is supported by research which has revealed that own-brand sales by Sainsbury's and Tesco account for more than 50% of their revenues.

Tesco turns tables

In February last year, Tesco launched its 'Finest' range of luxury ready-meals in around 200 stores nationwide. This was in response to market reports which indicated that the retailer was not regarded by the general public as a provider of the best quality foodstuffs.

The store commissioned Pentagram Design to create the 'upmarket' silver and black livery and advise on packaging formats for the 125-plus product lines. This resulted in 80 different packaging formats.

Sales immediately exceeded expectations and the project was considered a success. In the words of Alan Wingrove, the company's packaging technology manager: "As one of our most significant product launches in the past decade, it throws down the gauntlet to other retailers."

But luxury goods are not the only products requiring quality packaging design. Even with everyday grocery items, a pack's visual qualities should not be considered secondary to low pricing.

Terry Robins, packaging technical manager at Sainsbury's, says: "Today's shoppers are sophisticated. With an unprecedented range of similarly performing goods, research shows that when browsing, decisions are made in a split second.

"The eye is often drawn first to an established brand icon, such as the famous turquoise and shield on Heinz baked beans."

Retailer signals

Robins believes that if Sainsbury's own-brand goods are to compete, the company must invest considerable time and money in ensuring the pack not only stands out but communicates the product's key benefits and Sainsbury's attributes. "This applies whether we're selling toilet rolls, luxury gateaux or soft drinks," he adds.

Sainsbury's Ready to Eat Dried Fruits range is an example of the type of product which struggles to make an impact on-shelf. Originally, they were packed in functional flat plastic bags. Now they are in six-colour gravure-printed metallised polyester stand-up pouches with a gusseted bottom and resealable zip. Not only do they have greater shelf impact, but are easier to open, while the foil finish gives an added perception of freshness. …

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