Food Matters Live 2015: The importance of packaging & communication

Food Matters Live 2015: The importance of packaging & communication

This year Clarity attended the Food Matters Live 2015 conference and it has to be said it was well worth the trip from the Midlands. Welcomed by host of excited food innovators and with a jam packed day of sessions, I came away from the day with a more expanded knowledge of future trends, behaviours and business strategies of food and nutrition.

Firstly, the day kicked off with a session on food packaging. This may sound a little dull, what can you talk about in packaging that we don’t already know? However, I was surprised by some of the future trends and the consumer insight into the importance packaging plays in purchase decision.

Toby Coates Head of Packaging Research, MMR introduced this session that explored latest packaging trends and innovations in the better-for you brands.


Primarily focusing on the thought process behind each consumer’s drive to purchase this session lead me to understanding more thoroughly the emotional journey a consumer goes on and how much packaging can be used to inform and influence this choice.

Consumer insight today is not just important at the stage of validation, but rather right from the beginning of the idea process. Across every level of brand marketing, researching your audience and knowing what they like is vital in building a successful brand.

Toby discussed three of the brand touch points within packaging that influence the consumer’s brand experience:



It is proving ever more difficult to successfully communicate messages to consumers, they are being bombarded with information daily and on a variety of media channels. TV advertising has become less effective at engaging consumers, print is in decline and social media has taken over with 65% of millennials finding what they need to know about brands from social media.

With social media very much in the consumer’s control much of what Toby was discussing points towards brands having to diversify their approach to take a much more social perspective.


Today brands have the growing challenge of using their packaging to successfully transfer brand promise into product experience. Through using areas such as communications and understanding the consumer, packaging holds great influence on the consumer’s choice to either creating a positive experience that re-affirms choice or creating a negative experience that will extinguish positive links to the brand and in turn purchasing the product.


Toby stated a general observation that today there are no bad products, we are a consumer driven market would not support these, therefore it makes it extremely hard for brands to differentiate themselves from competitors. We have a high calibre of products all competing for the attention of the consumer. Toby suggested that we must use other levers we have available like packaging, in order to monopolise on these slight differences and influence consumer choice.

Through sharing with us recent survey results we got a real glimpse into what exactly consumers thought about packaging. 85% of purchasing decisions were made at point of sale indicating the importance packaging has on our final decisions.

With a total of 80% of people claiming manufacturers use too much packaging, would less packaging create less hassle of disposal for consumers which in turn would encourage more people to purchase?

A specific industry noted as succeeding in packaging performance was the the drinks industry. Obviously my ears pricked up to hear this given our clients in the alcohol sector.

Wines, spirits, beers and ciders all pay close attention to what the consumer wants, a product that is strong and efficient at storing freshness with branding that sells.

I guess the move towards craft and artisan has put a huge emphasis on creating a premium packaging experience for the consumer within the drinks industry. This trend movement has definitely made the drinks industry up their game and use packaging to reach consumers.

Placing importance upon consumer experience Toby touched on the fact that the more emotionally fuelled and experiential a process is for a consumer the more it encourages them to take action.

Emotion was a common theme throughout this session. Focusing on what drives the consumer to take action/ what they feel strongly towards can provide a brand the opportunity to find common ground with consumers.

Using emotion in the thought process of developing packaging has increased brand awareness of their consumers and what passions and feelings they share. From understanding the effect of emotions, brands today can pull upon sensory characteristics to build a better relationship and experience for the consumer.

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