Bakers Journal

The book and its cover

September 20, 2011
By Michelle Brisebois

The classic image of Lady Justice depicts her holding a balanced scale and wearing a blindfold.

The classic image of Lady Justice depicts her holding a balanced scale and wearing a blindfold. The message is clear: The value of something shouldn’t be swayed by appearances. If that were true, every marketer in the world would be out of a job because it’s their mandate to seduce consumers by appealing to their senses and sensibilities. Your baked goods are no doubt delicious to see, taste, smell and touch, but is the vessel worthy of its cargo?

Packaging is an extension of your merchandising strategy, influencing consumers at the point of purchase.


When it comes to your packaging, are you really doing your products justice?

Packaging is a vital part of the marketing mix. When it comes to product branding, attention is often focused on the advertising and product development with little emphasis put on the power of the package itself. To effectively assess how to develop the strongest package, it’s best to be clear about packaging’s purpose and potential.

What’s its role?
Packaging can perform multiple roles, which vary according to the particular brand and category.

  • Packaging, as an extension of your merchandising strategy, should be considered the “silent salesman” due to its ability to influence consumers at the point of purchase. Packaging is the physical representation of a brand experience and therefore should be treated as a part of the overall communication strategy for your products.
  • Once a product gets home, the packaging can continue the emotional connection between the brand and the consumer. The hope is it will prompt the consumer to keep buying it. Conversely, if the packaging and product fail to deliver on that brand promise, people will take the product off their list of favourites.
  • Packaging has a key role as an informational vehicle, carrying details of the pricing, ingredients, handling and nutrition.
  • Packaging ensures your product’s freshness and keeps it from being physically damaged, both important aspects of delivering a wonderful experience to the customer.

What potential does packaging have to increase sales?
Packaging’s true potential lies in its ability to attract and retain customers, but as we’ve come to understand, not all customers are created equal. Some are creatures of habit and some can be brought over from the fence.

Creatures of habit: Many studies suggest that the majority of purchasing takes place in “default” mode, where the shopper gives little serious consideration to choosing between brands. Default shoppers already know which brand they are after even before they go shopping. For these consumers, ease of location is vital. They want to find their favourite brand easily. If they struggle to locate their favourite brand, that lag time may open them up to other potential choices. Brands that are immediately identifiable are hugely powerful in ensuring the “default” shopper carries through with the purchase. As shoppers become more time pressured and more aware of brands, and are offered a wider breadth of choice, it will become increasingly difficult to interrupt the default shopping mode.

On the fence: Only a third of purchasing in retail outlets is called considered or unplanned (Source: Miller Zell, 2009). The term “considering consumers” is used to identify instances where consumers can be persuaded to think about trying new products as opposed to buying their preferred brands. This could be because it’s a product they’ve not purchased before or because they don’t buy the item frequently. It could also be because they have been interrupted from their default mode, or because they don’t have a favourite brand in that particular category. For these shoppers, the role of the package is to attract attention and incite trial. Using visually attractive packaging that features innovative colour, shape and graphic design can achieve this. Communicating a strong rational message (organic, low fat, etc.) or even offering a discount or coupon can also accomplish this goal.

Packaging has to play different roles depending on whether it’s intended to reach default or considering consumers. If you’re an independent bakery, your customers are shopping among only your products. In this instance, you’re only competing with yourself. Therefore, the packaging strategy should be designed to encourage trial of new products, to create impulse sales (add on, increase average sale) or to migrate customers from a product you wish to phase out towards a product targeted for growth.

Trends and insights
The hunt for sustainable packaging options continues to be a strong trend. Consumers continue to look for eco-friendly packaging and this is especially true for women. Packaging Digest reports that “women are 14 per cent more likely than men to select environmentally-friendly packaging over non-‘green,’ more-convenient alternatives” in pointing to a recent study of 1,011 adults commissioned by the IP Solutions business of Thomson Reuters. Men surveyed were more apt to select products packaged to provide greater convenience. When looking for colours to feature on your products, it’s common to have red and blue in a category. It’s believed that we notice red more quickly than any other colour. People also have an instant connection to blue, a colour associated with “blue chip” investments, which means trust. Richer colours imply that the flavour is richer as well. Lighter colours suggest lighter types of foods. If you look at ice cream, you’ll notice this strategy in its decadent to lighter product categories. An independent bakery would be wise to employ the artisan look – brown cardboard with a see-through window and using such words as “handcrafted” or “baked fresh.” There’s also the clean and modern look (think bottled water) and the homespun look of brands like Pepperidge Farm or Quaker.

While one may argue that solid judgment comes from the heart, not the eyes, baked goods are something that appeals to all of the senses. That’s why we love them and that’s why they deserve a package that makes a strong argument in favour of purchase. Case closed!

Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical, financial services and wine industries. She specializes in retail brand strategies.

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