Today’s consumers are more connected than ever. Evolving at a rapid rate, their needs grow more unique and specific every day. New demands and preferences mean that brands need to stay on their toes to keep up. What current trends are driving consumer-brand interaction? How do they impact the food and beverage industry, and packaging?
Consumers generally agree that being healthy is vital, and desire a wholesome, thriving lifestyle. They are conflicted about making right eating choices and want to balance feeling good today with being physically fit for longer. Consumers thus look for tasty, natural options that will provide better nutrition. For example, think foods with more natural ingredients, or functional beverages with health benefits. Packaging can support this trend by offering a range of portion sizes that communicate and express the nutrition value of the content. The package’s look and material can also be used to convey health advantages.
Consumers desire to be better social citizens and are taking more action in helping to preserve and protect the world’s resources for future generations. They are more conscious about minimizing consumption and waste and will support brands that take a leadership role in providing products that are kind to humans and the planet. In terms of packaging, consider using environmentally safe and sustainable materials; packages should also protect food contents for longer, thus avoiding waste. Brands can also do more about educating consumers on the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
As the fear of ‘fake news’ grows, consumers highly value products and organizations they perceive as being genuine. More people are turning away from commercial and brand messages. Instead, they’re embracing peer reviews and ‘someone like me’ influencers on social media. However, they will support brands that are transparent, i.e.- open about the journey from farm to table. Food packaging can play an important role as a medium by using realistic photo images and being honest and clear about a package’s contents. It can also use technology, like QR codes, to provide straightforward information about production.
Today’s consumers, living hectic and fast-paced lives, want products that can match their pace. Accessible convenience is the name of the game. Brands have responded by providing what the consumers want when they want it – convenient solutions that are available 24/7. For food and beverage, think of convenient or catering offerings, e.g. the growing fast-food culture that provides well-cooked, good quality meals to be easily eaten on the go, or meal kits that reduce preparation time. Packaging should be tailored to different need occasions and should be portable, easy to drink from, and securely resealable.
Consumer values are shifting. People are moving away from buying ‘things’ to buying experiences that bring happiness and well-being. And they are willing to pay a premium for it. A positive experience, delivered by a seamless consumer journey, will result in amplified value. This leads to consumers who, in our hyper-connected world, are happy to share the experience. This will be followed by increased loyalty and trust for brands. Packaging can play a significant role in this trend. Think appealing packages that trigger delight or excitement, which can heighten the level of consumer engagement, and lead to increased awareness and loyalty.
Consumers are widely embracing the trend of delivering global products with local relevance, i.e., international products that adapt to local traditions, values, and tastes. They are gravitating towards food and beverage brands that combine their products with local tastes and preferences to provide feelings of personality, originality, and tradition. New digital technologies can enable packaging to partake of this hybrid trend, e.g., consider modern packages with traditional patterns or local contexts, incorporating local ingredients, or even taking production back to local markets.
A shift in consumer-brand power and engagement – a powerful combination of influential, connected consumers and digital democracy – enables the ‘Story of One.’ This is the ability of consumers to be the directors and editors of their stories. More consumers see themselves as being creative and want to stand out, rather than fit in. Brands have a unique opportunity here to co-create innovative products and services that zero into their consumers’ needs and desires. For food and beverage producers, this could mean tailoring food products to more precisely fit different lifestyles. As self-expression is vital in this trend, packaging can be customised to convey a personal touch or identify with certain values through unique and specific designs.