When innovating to deliver growth I have noticed a tendency for teams to start with product ideation and then progress to packaging as a support for their product ideas.
But with the pack first to engage shoppers and usually representing a fraction of the cost of product the risk is that significant profitable growth opportunities are missed.
To avoid this I suggest dedicating ideation time to exploring packaging-only innovation that is: a) focused on growth ‘levers’ and b) aligned with consumers / shoppers’ existing behaviours and beliefs .
Put simply, to look for ideas that can drive consumers to BUY MORE, USE MORE, LIKE MORE or PAY MORE. Some examples and prompting questions are below:
1. BUY MORE: We buy what we know, recognise (and is available)
Brands that are more available, easier to recognise/find are bought more often. So the first opportunity to explore is becoming the easiest to find and buy for all possible category buyers. This is about some really fundamental questions including:
a) Where are our competitors listed / distributed where we are not and why?
b) Are we in all formats/sizes for all shoppers, all missions, all incomes, all geographies?
c) Have we packs (and displays) for all locations where trial can be triggered?
d) What can we do to primary and secondary packaging design and format to increase speed and accuracy of selection on shelf?
The business case for pack / display developments that make a brand easier to buy should be relatively easy. Incremental distribution points can be estimated and improved speed/accuracy of pack measured on (real or virtual) supermarket shelves to confirm a significant improvement.
2. USE/CONSUME MORE: We consume more of what’s at arm’s reach
Packaging that enables increased use/consumption should support a persuasive business case. This can be more than a larger size. For example, formats that fit under-served usage occasions or enable high traffic in-home location. Some key questions include:
a) How do our pack sizes compare to the competition and fit with shopper needs?
b) What formats and features make it easier to find, select at home?
c) How do we enable visibility / placement for increased consumption frequency?
d) Which usage occasions / activities are under-served? (When and where?)
3. LIKE MORE: We stick to habits/routines and avoid effort or complexity
Packaging innovation that makes use more rewarding or convenient or extends the benefits can build preference and so market share.
The scope for innovation is wide, but a business case must demonstrate that changes are noticeable and drive preference (e.g. higher purchase intent) Vs key competitors.
Developing ideas requires an understanding of existing usage behaviour and dissatisfactions. Some key questions are below (and there are many more):
a) Where can we remove inconvenience across the journey from buying to disposal?
b) Can packaging features extend the role/benefits of our product?
c) Would consumers value serving sizes or portion control?
d) What new materials or features could protect benefits/quality or reduce wastage?
User observation will be a key input for identifying opportunities in the journey where your pack or a competitors is causing some inconvenience. The challenge is finding improvements or additional benefits that are meaningful enough to create preference.
4. PAY MORE: We won’t pay more for something that we don’t see as different or better than alternatives
Extending a price premium will be considerably easier if packaging changes can improve convenience or benefit delivery. However, an increased premium may not depend on a change that improves satisfaction, extends benefits or even new packaging materials.
I therefore see packaging developments that increase perceived value (without functional improvements) as a separate growth ‘lever’. Understanding what signals quality is vital and questions to consider include:
a) Are there alternative materials that perform and are more sustainable?
b) What associations or attributes on the pack could support perceived quality?
c) What elements can be customized or even personalised?
So to summarise, invest in some dedicated time for generating packaging ideas to drive consumers to BUY MORE, USE MORE, LIKE MORE or PAY MORE. Prioritised developments should offer greater growth potential and so a stronger business case.