Packing A Punch


July 20, 2013
When Mango Frooti was launched in India in 1985, it was an instant hit, but the bigger winner was the packaging. The cold drinks were sold in glass bottles, back then, which had to be returned after the consumption. Frooti’s tetra pack gave the freedom to carry it along, which was a unique concept. Packing has come a long way since then.

Today consumers associate packaging with the core value of the brand or the product. Consumers are swarmed with scores of competing products and brands to choose from. Therefore, packaging is one of the main marketing strategies used by companies to sell their products, as it is the most tangible form of the branding. Consumers can touch it, feel it, read the brand communication, and then decide whether to buy it or not. But in order to invest time in reading about the product or brand, the consumer must first be attracted to the packaging.

Packaging design plays an equally important role in representing a brand as much as other elements of a brand’s visual identity do. Furthermore, colour is the first impression a package makes. Therefore, brands look at cost-effective and innovative ways to differentiate their products’ packaging and color digital printing is the Holy Grail for them.

According to Smithers Pira, the digital printing for packaging market will show compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% to 2014. What’s driving this growth? Several factors, including the growing demand for innovative ways to differentiate products. Companies are increasingly looking at customised and personalised packaging to accommodate heightened demand for multiple languages, regional preferences, as well as targeted marketing by changing colours, text and images on the fly. Moreover, in this hyper competitive world, there is an aggressive need to shrink the time-to-market and time-sensitive promotions have become a phenomenon. All this is giving a huge push to digital printing as developments in digital printing technology can now feed augmented demand for shorter runs of packages and labels. All the major brands are also reaping benefits of digital printing. A good and innovative packaging gives a company more promotional benefit than it could get from the advertisement, because packaging is the only form of branding which reaches out to all the customers. Using digital printing presses for packaging and labeling, package printers can offer innumerable options to meet their customers’ growing needs.

Digital printing, unquestionably, has had an extensive and massive impact on the entire printing industry. What was not affordable, or even imaginable five years ago— short runs, flexible data, versioning, regional marketing, time-sensitive promotions, and faster time-to-market -- are today readily available due to the technological advances in digital printing. It presents a tremendous growth opportunity and opens a door to reach out to new customers and new markets in more impactful ways.

Colour plays an important role in packaging; it sets your product apart from the competitions’ products. Therefore, choosing the right colour has a great impact on the ultimate success or failure of a product or brand. More importantly, colours need to be selected very carefully, as they are perceived very differently in different cultures. It is equally important to understand the profile, age, economic status, educational background, etc., of your target customers to choose the appropriate colour. The colour and unique graphics, if maintained consistently, can become iconic for a brand and improve top of the mind recall. For example, what is the first thing that strikes one about a Maggie Noodles pack? The yellow colour!

Supplementary information such as product features and ingredients, and not only colour and design, are equally important. They should be easy to understand. Attention should also be paid to how convenient is to handle a pack, for example, it should be easy to open and close. All of these factors play a huge role in influencing the purchase decisions. A product can be exceptionally good, but if it has an unattractive and impractical packaging, it is likely to remain unnoticed and stay on the shelf.

India’s packaging industry, which at present is $27.6 billion, is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 12.3% over the next 4 to 5 years, far ahead of the average growth rate in other global markets, to become the fourth largest global market, with sales of $43.7 billion, by 2016. (Source: Indian Institute of Packaging). The global consumer packaging market is valued at approximately $550 billion, at present. So, it is about time to get innovative by reaching out to new segments and customer with never-before packaging.

The writer is executive director, technology, channel and international business, Xerox India