News Feature | October 7, 2013

How Functional Is Your Food Packaging?

Source: Food Online
Sam Lewis

By Sam Lewis, associate editor
Follow Me On Twitter @SamIAmOnFood

Food Cans

Poorly designed food packaging can kill a product’s popularity and performance

Customers are often enticed to make food purchases based on a product’s flashy packaging. The product is purchased, taken home, opened, consumed, and the packaging is thrown away (let’s hope it gets recycled) without much being said about it. That’s the way it normally happens, that is until a product’s packaging fails the consumer.

When consumers are let down by a product’s package, both the consumer and the product’s company suffer. If consumers view packaging as difficult to open, likely to break, or unable to keep the product fresh, that particular brand will be frowned upon. If enough displeasure is brought upon a consumer, what’s to stop them from finding a similar product that meets their packaging needs?

Frustration caused by poorly designed food packages can’t be overlooked either. The unpleasant nature of some product’s packaging has led to the newly coined term “wrap rage,” where frustration turns into fury due to the extreme inconvenience a product’s packaging causes. Further, some packaging has proven so difficult that it causes injury. In fact, a 2003 article from the U.K. indicated that 60,000 people are injured each year trying to open difficult food packages. An injury caused by a product’s packaging seems like a sure-fire way to have a consumer stop purchasing your product.

Payne, a company dedicated to finding packaging solutions, revealed the results of its packaging study in January, 2013. In the study, the company found that consumers seek functionality in their products’ packaging. Functionality refers to the packaging be able to easily be opened and resist breaking. Functionality is key, but not the only key. Packaging must have the proper aesthetics to compel consumers to purchase it and informative labels revealing details about the product. “Packaging solutions that focus on opening, closing, informing, and protecting can resolve many of the typical consumer pack frustrations, and at the same time deliver added value and enhance brand image, to the extent of becoming an integral part of the brand experience," say managing director at Payne, Martin Dallas.

The quality of a product may not matter if its packaging is subpar. If functionality isn’t met with abundant information, good looks, and convenience, the product could falter. “When packaging works, it makes people feel good about the product; conversely, a poor pack can have a deeply negative effect on their perception of the brand,” Dallas says. A good package could be the difference between repeat customers or lost sales.