Thursday, January 18, 2018

Never Underestimate the Power of the Package; Are You Due for a Redesign?

The Winter Fancy Food Show starts in two days. During the past few weeks I have received many sneak peaks of food and beverage innovations to debut at the show. Many product descriptions sound enticing, and then, yikes, I see a photo of the packaged product.

It’s truly amazing how so many innovators think so little of the package.

Today’s innovators have these great new product concepts. These are products they are passionate about and consume their life. (Think Shark Tank.) Then they package it in a low-quality, generic container with non-descriptive graphics.   

Repeat after me: The package is the first thing the potential customer sees. It’s the first step to a sale.

You must make package selection a priority. And when possible, make the package work for the product.

When I was in research and development at Kraft more than 25 years ago, the 3 P’s of innovation—product, process and package--were the foundation of every project. All three departments worked together from concept to execution. Make package development part of your first day of innovation.

At the beginning of February, Unilever will roll out Magnum tubs to the U.S. market. This product made its global debut this past October in select European markets. It is one of the best examples ever of having the package work for the product.

Until now, the Magnum brand was limited to premium stick bar novelties. These ice cream bars were known for their signature crunch as one bites into the outer shell of exquisite chocolate. The company believed it was important for the consumer to experience this interaction in a tub container. This new concept takes the signature Magnum chocolate and silky ice cream from the classic bar and reimagines it into a scoopable format.

This first-of-a-kind indulgent ice cream experience relies on the internal sides of the Magnum tub to be encased in a shell of chocolate, which preserves the iconic chocolate crack that ice cream lovers hear upon biting into a Magnum ice cream bar. The consumer squeezes the sides of the tub to crack the chocolate shell and then break into the top thick chocolate layer, for the perfect mixture of rich chocolate shards and silky ice cream in every spoonful. The four varieties are: Dark Chocolate Raspberry, Milk Chocolate Hazelnut, Milk Chocolate Vanilla and White Chocolate Vanilla.

“Magnum tubs offer a new, multisensory way to enjoy Magnum ice cream that is unlike anything available in the category today,” says Bruno Francisco, marketing director of ice cream at Unilever. “It is truly a revolutionary ice cream experience that our fans are going to love.”

One must never forget the purpose of the package, as I explained to attendees of the inaugural Frozen Dessert Conference sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Food Science this past October. 

The purpose of the package is to contain, protect product, distribute, merchandise, showcase, protect consumer with tamper evident feature, and allow the consumer to store and use as needed. But it can do more.

The first questions every ice cream innovator must answer during the development process are:
  • Paper or plastic?
  • Size: 10-, 12-, 14-, 16-, 32-, 48-, 64-ounces or ???
  • Square flat, round, squround?
  • Clear?
  • Mixed materials?
  • Extra functions, e.g., easy open, tamper evidence?
Influencing the answers to these questions will be decisions regarding graphics and brand identity.

Clearly Magnum’s message is premium indulgence, unlike anything you ever experienced before.

This past fall, with the competition growing from national and regional competitors, United Dairy Farmers (UDF) decided to redesign the graphics on its ice cream packaging. The goal was to communicate the unique emotion of the brand’s story.

“We needed someone who could translate the pride we have in our legacy brand to a complete redesign that conveys our commitment to producing the best ice cream for our customers and making it relevant to a new generation of families,” says Brad Lindner, president and ceo.

According to Simon Thorneycroft, founder and ceo of Perspective: Branding, San Francisco, the company that did the redesign, “This is a story about a classic American family with a rich history that has always been devoted to producing the best quality and a commitment to always deliver great products and excellent service. It’s the singular idea of ‘passing down the good stuff,’ that speaks to the brand character, the product and the origins of the recipes.”

After an extensive strategic visual audit, Perspective: Branding revamped the UDF’s Homemade Brand line starting with a new distinctive identity: the image of a father and son gazing out to the future sitting atop the brand name.

“We are paying homage to the wholesome values and family history, the passing of the baton from generation to generation,” Thorneycroft adds.

The design includes a white contemporary font with a twirl in the letter ‘o’ on a solid black rectangle, which represents the creaminess and the act of mixing in all of the quality ingredients. Photography of a luscious and large ice cream scoop and natural ingredients used to make the product cues the high-quality ingredients (many of which UDF makes itself) that go into the creation of the ice cream and its’ unforgettable taste appeal. A white marble background evokes a modern kitchen countertop, or a slab where the ice cream is cut, to check for quality and consistency. Each flavor is written on a recipe card to highlight the homemade ingredients and allude to the traditional passing down of recipes. Finally, the lid color was changed from a generic black to a premium gold reflecting both the quality and a cue to dairy.

Speaking of colors, here are some generalizations regarding color considerations.
  • Green=warm, friendly, good-for-you
  • Orange, Red and Yellow=action colors to attract younger consumers
  • Gold or Silver=premium, upscale
  • Black or Metallic=slick, modern
  • Clear=purity, naturalness
And the newest addition to this list is
  • Blue=high protein content

Packaging and graphics showcase what’s inside. It gets the mouth watering.

La Terra Fina recently did a redesign as well. The goal was to better communicate the real, premium ingredients and fresh flavors in their dips to further differentiate on shelf.

Ripe artichokes, deep green spinach, lemons and chunks of Parmesan cheese are among the fresh ingredients that adorn the brand’s new look. La Terra Fina’s brand revitalization marks a shift for the company to include a food-inspired focus, with a fresh, contemporary and worldly vibe. The brand has a new logo, too, with packaging showcasing vibrant, real food photography that highlights the fresh ingredients used in each product. 

“A fresh look at our packaging was long overdue,” says Stephanie Robbins, director of brand development. “Our goal is to reflect our emphasis on premium ingredients and flavors, along with our passion for making food you’d be proud to call homemade.”

Another ice cream package recently redesigned comes from Tillamook County Creamery Association. The 108-year-old farmer-owned cooperative from the Pacific Northwest has a new look for its superpremium line. The redesign features a cleaner, bold font, and places an emphasis on flavor, with each of the 14 flavors in the series owning a unique color. Re-named “Special Batch,” a cream band around the lid ties the entire line together to help consumers identify Tillamook Special Batch items on-shelf.

“As a farmer-owned co-op, it is important to us that our farmer-heritage is reflected within the package redesign, while still achieving the playful tone that is consistent with our brand character,” says Stephanie Carson, ice cream category manager. “This line is a celebration of specialty flavors made with real artisan ingredients so the new look puts flavor front and center.”

And then there’s Chobani. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the brand had a makeover.

Chobani’s in-house creative team spent more than a year developing the evolved brand look and feel.
 This differentiates the brand at shelf and reflects its founding mission to provide better food for more people. The brand’s creative expression—Fighting for Happily Ever After—is shaping everything from the brand’s packaging, website and campaigns to its caf├ęs, and more.

I love that: fighting for happily ever after.

Does your package talk to the consumer? Does it compel them to buy? Maybe it’s time for a makeover.

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