OnFleek –thought station : Insights

Packaging it the Right Way!!!

With the ever increasing local population, there is a simultaneous increase in the demand-supply graph. Publics, with the evolution of technology and digital media are appropriately informed and thus are pretty aware of what they want, the quantity the want and how they want it. Also, with so many products and services it choose from when it comes to the supply chain, it is but obvious that all brands are not equally preferred by a consumer and he opt for a brand after an almost stringent analysis of a number of factors associated with it; amongst various other factors one of them is the packaging.

Before treading the path of how important packaging is and its necessity in today’s marketplace, let us refresh ourselves on certain trivia of what packaging is and how it has evolved

Packaging and its evolution

Marketing and branding experts are well acquainted with the “P’s of marketing,” which might differ, depending on the source consulted, and can be as few as four P’s like the ones mentioned by Philip Kotler in his marketing mix theory [product, price, place (distribution) and promotion] or as many as eight “P” words like product, place, price, promotion, people, physical environment, process and packaging.

Herein amongst other if Products/ services are the thing being sold my brands and people are the TG it is being sold to; then Packaging is the material/s in which your product is delivered to your customers. As per Wikipedia, packaging is defined as “the science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of designing, evaluating, and producing packages. Packaging can be described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for transport, warehousing, logistics, sale, and end use. In many countries it is fully integrated into government, business, institutional, industrial and personal use. ”

Many authors define the term ‘Packaging” in the following manner:

William J. Stanton: “Packaging may be defined as the general group of activities in product planning which involves designing and producing the container or wrapper for a product.”

Vernon L. Fladager in his article “Packaging as a Marketing Tool” explains its importance in the following lines: “Under the modern marketing concept, in which all aspects of a business are correlated from a market point of view to enhance their ability to win profitable customers, packaging decisions almost always have complex ramifications. Any such decision may simultaneously affect production, distribution, research and development, sales, advertising, public relations, personnel, accounting and finance.”

Mason and Rath: “Packaging is the use of containers and wrapping material plus decoration and labelling to protect the product to help and promote its role and to make it convenient for the consumer to use the product.”

Though packaging is considered to be an integral part of today’s operation and marketing professionals’ brand building exercise, the trivia on history and evolution of packaging is quite interesting. From the ancient times, once human civilisations evolved, Consumption also evolved and along with that evolved the ancient man feeling of the need to storing food and other valuable goods for future consumption. Thus, knowledge and technology of food packaging emerged in its primitive form. The earliest recorded use of paper for packaging dates back to 1035, when a Persian traveller visiting markets in Cairo, Arab Egypt, noted that vegetables, spices and hardware were wrapped in paper for the customers after they were sold. Then, in those times, humans who were using the non-consumable vegetal leaves to cover the goods/food and the as time progressed, he gathered experience regarding the flaws of such protection, the concept was innovated with the formation of a container made from plant leaves using tiny needles of a tree stem. With the progress of civilisation, the concept of protecting food & products was developed more and more in response to increasing needs. Set-up boxes were first used in the 16th century and modern folding cartons date back to 1839. The first corrugated box was produced commercially in 1817 in England.

In 18th century the use of tinplate for packaging was discovered. The manufacturing of tinplate was the monopoly of Bohemia for a long time; in 1667 Andrew Yarranton, an English engineer, and Ambrose Crowley brought the method to England where it was improved by ironmasters including Philip Foley. With the discovery of the significance of airtight containers for food preservation by French inventor Nicholas Appert, the tin canning process was patented by British merchant Peter Durand in 1810.

Cutting forward to 20th century, packaging advancements in the early 20th century included Bakelite closures on bottles, transparent cellophane overwraps and panels on cartons. What exactly plastic was, was not known until 1920 when Hermann Staudinger's revolutionary idea was heard. Plastic packaging had begun to be used widely after 1950s. Towards the end of 1970s plastic packaging sector has begun to grow. Research and studies show that as of 2003, the packaging sector accounted for about 2% of the gross national product in developed countries. About half of this market was related to food packaging. In 2019 the global food packaging market size was estimated at USD 303.26 billion.

Types of Packaging

Packaging may be of numerous variants. For instance, a transport package or distribution package may be the shipping container used to ship, store, and handle the product or inner packages. Some identify a consumer package as one which ‘is directed toward a consumer or household.’ Packaging may also be described in relation to the type of product being packaged - medical device packaging, over-the-counter drug packaging, retail food packaging, military materiel packaging, pharmaceutical packaging, etc.

Sometimes it may be categorized by layer or function as well; commonly primary, secondary and tertiary.-

  • Primary packaging is the material that first encloses the product and holds it in place. This usually is the smallest unit of distribution or use and is the package which is in direct contact with the contents.
  • Secondary packaging is outside the primary packaging, and may be used to prevent pilferage or to group primary packages together.
  • Tertiary or transit packaging is usually used for bulk handling, warehouse storage and transport shipping. The most common form is a palletized unit load that packs tightly into containers.

Packaging can also have categories based on the package form. For example, thermoform packaging and flexible packaging define broad usage extents.

Importance of packaging

Till date for many customers don’t pay any attention whatsoever to a package and rip it open without giving it a second conscious thought. The same thought process is followed by many a brand as well for whom in a marketing mix packaging is the least of their concern. However, established brands know the importance of packaging and thus work towards strengthening it in their marketing mix.

The importance of packaging can be seen broadly under its functionality –

  • 1. Protect the content (goods/products) - The most important function of packaging is to not keep the contents safe and secure from the outside environment, but vice versa, packaging is needed to keep the product away from the external environment, as well. For example, the objects enclosed in the package may require protection from, amongst other stuffs, mechanical shock, vibration, electrostatic discharge, compression, temperature, etc.
  • 2. Containment or agglomeration – Small objects are typically congregated together in one package for reasons of storage and selling effectiveness. For example, a single box of 1000 card decks requires less physical handling than 1000 single playing card. Liquids, powders, and granular materials need containment.
  • 3. Portion control – Single serving or single dose packaging has a specific quantity of contents to control usage. Bulk commodities such as sugar can be divided into packages that are a more suitable size for individual households. It also aids the control of inventory: selling sealed one-litre bottles of oil, rather than having people bring their own bottles to fill themselves.
  • 4. Convenience – Packages can have features that add convenience in distribution, handling, stacking, display, sale, opening, reclosing, using, dispensing, reusing, recycling, and ease of disposal.
  • 5. Information transmission – Packages and labels communicate how to use, transport, recycle, or dispose of the product. With pharmaceuticals, food, medical and chemical products, some types of information are obligatory by government legislation. Some packages and labels also are used for tracking and tracing purposes.
  • 6. Barrier protection - A barrier from oxygen, water vapor, dust, etc., is often essential. Some packages contain desiccants or oxygen absorbency to help extend shelf life. Modified atmospheres or controlled atmospheres are also maintained in some food packages. Keeping the contents clean, fresh, sterile and safe for the intended shelf life is a primary function.

Packaging can also be used by the branding and marketing professional as a part of the marketing mix as well since –

  • a. Storage of product - Packaging is to keep the contents safe during storage. This storage time may be a matter of years or minutes - possibly even for seconds. For example, Tetra packaging keeps your box of milk easier to store while a Styrofoam cups fits the bill for storing an instant premix.
  • b. Creating a demand – Have you ever felt attracted by the colour of the new iPhone or PlayStation box? Have your heart left a beat when you saw a box of Hershey’s kiss shaped packets lying on the bed on your birthday? If your answers are a yes to all, they know this that the above brands were able to attract your attention and thereby create a demand for the product.
  • c. Transportation – Packaging makes it easier for the brand to better handle the products during transit as well as to transport the package itself.
  • d. Ensures Quality – Remember checking the instruction manual of the grocery store/ supermarket isle for instructions? Well this is another reason for the product marketers to promote packaging as it contains guidelines for the consumers.
  • e. Value Proposition – Businesses understand that there the need to create a packaging that would answer the question ‘why a user would purchase a particular product?’ offered by them. This could be extremely simple, such as a description of what the product is. This could also be emotional, communicating what the product stands for. For example, perhaps a learned customer wants to buy organic good. A nifty marketing strategy for brands focused on organic production would be to highlight this in big letters on the package. This in a way facilitates the ‘purchase decision’ of the consumers.
  • f. Brand Recognition – It is important for a customer to know and recognize whose merchandise they are purchasing and clearly exhibiting the brand name on the package is also a good branding and sales conversion strategy. For Example, Indian knows a bottle of Old Monk By the Monk shape bottle and thus when they love the taste, even if they forget the name once they recognise it by the shape of the bottle.
  • g. Differentiation - Packaging can also help in differentiation of product - one brand from another. Attractive packaging helps consumers to identify the product as it parks itself among the competitor’s products on store shelves. This is because the product packaging can contain company names, logos and the colour scheme of the brand.
  • h. Creates a unique experience – Review and Unboxing of products is a new trend followed by many a brands as a part of promotion. Even, if not the case they want the consumers buying the product to feel a unique connect with the product and the purchasing of the goods n exclusive shopping experience in itself so that the consumers come back to them next time they want to purchase something to spread the word so that others can give it a try.

By this time you must have noticed the diversity and importance packaging has on today’s brands and market place.

So if you do need any help with your packaging, Contact today and get a free consultation along with a better brand packaging!