Global packaging for retail success

Global packaging for retail success

Lucy Lorimer takes a look at packaging trends both in the UK and oversees and how they will shape the industry in 2014…


More and more FMCG brands are finding their way into emerging markets like Africa, India and China, and therefore dealing with a new set of packaging requirements to address differing cultures and retail structures. The Market Creative specialises in retail marketing and packaging design, here head of strategy, Lucy Lorimer, looks at what we can learn from trends both here and overseas, sharing  some of her insight for effective pack communications in less established markets.    


Over the next few years emerging markets are set to see huge growth in terms of both the number of shoppers and consumer spend, providing a myriad of significant development opportunities for FMCG brands. 



Recent figures reflect this move with The Economist Intelligence Unit and Mintel reporting that consumer spend in emerging markets is expected to grow between 7.7% and 15.2% a year between 2013 and 2016. Unilever also reported at the start of the year that its emerging markets business, which accounts for 57% of the group’s sales, significantly boosted its profits in 2013 and grew 8.4%. 



When looking to move into new territory a core part of any strategy will involve developing on-pack communications that meet the challenges of engaging consumers in a new market, which can often present very different retail environments from those found in the UK.



We know that having complete understanding of the space that a product will ultimately compete in is at the start of the journey for any packaging design project. But what about when that environment is a far cry from the slick supermarket experience we’re familiar with? And how do you ensure that the final result will stand out, engage passing shoppers and drive sales when it’s not in a traditional retail environment?



A lot can be learnt from exploring packaging trends in both established and emerging markets and one of the first steps in designing a new pack includes looking at the competition and how effective solutions shift by region. One of our recent projects involved developing a new brand and packaging for a range of palm oil products that would appeal to Nigerian mothers, and it led us on a voyage of discovery across Africa. 



Understanding the retail environment is always an important part of the process. We found that the sales potential in this region is vast with anywhere from a modern supermarket to a roadside market stall offering opportunities to stock. This meant that the packaging design solution had to work hard when shelving, ranging and POS were not present. Insight told us that every Nigerian mother wants to take pride in greater tasting family meals every time, but they often felt let down by the quality of cooking ingredients available to them. The solution saw the brand personality centred around a Nigerian ‘Mama’. Her face acting as a welcoming, authentic introduction to the brand. A warm purple heart was created to deliver the key brand values ‘feeding family love’. The bold yellow and purple colours and hand-drawn typeface appearing across ‘Mamador’ packs reflected the culture, brands and fashions which were familiar to the Nigerian family audience.



The range was developed with new-to-market tamper-proof packs, guaranteeing that oil from Mamador, will always be 100% pure. And a wide range of consumer packs were developed to suit all budgets. Mamador has created a stir in Nigeria. The brand team launched the range with a high profile advertising and promotional campaign, and within months, Facebook ‘likes’ stand at more than 50,000 and distribution is expanding.



Our journey with Mamador led us to look across a range of FMCG products and consider the different packaging strategies. We looked at best practice from around the world and how products can stand-out in non-conventional retail environments from roadside stalls to open markets, where they can end up merchandised – in the loosest sense of the word – in all manner of ways.



While there are all kinds of things that a pack needs to achieve, the most effective are those that really stand for something; deliver a single, very simple, overriding branded message, while still delivering an explicit communication hierarchy and segmentation system. Milka is a great example; using heritage and origin to denote authenticity, and owning a colour, all with a premium feel.



It’s exciting when brands break the mould; successfully standing apart from established category norms. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream does this well by moving away from the minimalism and elegance that usually depict a premium brand to create a fun yet still premium proposition – afterall who could resist their ‘euphoric concoctions’?  



Here are our top five global packaging insights to help create stand-out on shelf:



Prominent branding



If packaging has a huge job to do in a chaotic retail environment, don’t be shy. Especially if looking to establish a brand as well as promote specific products. Big and bold brand logos combined with a high proportion of pack devoted to striking brand colours work most effectively; providing clear block branding. For example, a largely yellow section on a shelf will enable shoppers to quickly identify a brand’s range, almost like waving a flag to attract attention.     






Food brands in particular can have a myriad of health claims to communicate on pack. By turning them into an icon, and almost branding your benefits, efficiency of space is maximised. In time, they will also become immediately recognisable to health-conscious shoppers.   



Depiction of target audience on pack



It’s uncommon in the UK to feature a target audience in a pack’s design, but outside Europe, particularly in developing countries, it is more common. While here it may seem unnecessary, very obvious messaging can be beneficial if you’re in a market where there is a proliferation in the number and types of products available to newly defined target audiences. When product extensions effectively create new categories, there’s a much bigger job to do there in terms of not just what the product is, but who it’s for.



Use of characters


Cartoon, illustrated or ‘real’ characters have been used on packaging for decades from Tony the Tiger on Frosted Flakes to a myriad of friendly cows demonstrating dairy. This approach goes back to the advent of advertising, and is well-used globally as it presents a simple way to represent brand values, personality and product attributes, all in one neat and powerful device. It can become an immediately recognisable shorthand delivering on a number of levels from the rational – such as origin, product type and target audience – to the emotional – such as if an offering is a treat or great for energy. 



Visual linking 



One of the biggest packaging challenges is efficiency of space and boiling down multiple messages as simply as possible – particularly apparent when introducing a brand in a new territory. Linking the depiction of product attributes with branding can be particularly successful, using a single device to do several jobs at once. Carnation is a great example of this; the creamy milky droplet sitting on the red bowl shaped segment is immediately identifiable and striking, especially when several skus sit together on shelf – creating strong branding while leaving a high proportion of space free for variant or flavour messages.  


Stephanie Cornwall
Stephanie Cornwall