Changes in packaging result in ROI for F&B products

by Marc Corriveau, on March 20, 2019

If you work for a food and beverage company, you may have noticed something about your competitors. Every few months, one of them changes the box artwork on their packaging. It’s usually something subtle – changing the font, tweaking the color, substituting Christmas themes for Halloween – but the change is always something that you and your customers notice, even on a subliminal level.

Here’s something you might not know – these changes aren’t just shuffling the deck. Every time you change the artwork on your F&B packaging, you have the opportunity to take in more attention, grab customer interest, and turn your brand from wallpaper on store shelves to a must-buy. In other words, changing your packaging artwork is an opportunity for increased revenue. Here’s how:

Seasonal Snacks Compete for Holiday Revenue

In terms of changing Food and Beverage packaging, seasonal snacks are the easiest example we can think of. Basically, these are snacks – usually candy – that palette-swap their packaging around the major candy-oriented holidays. This usually means an orange-and-black package for Halloween, red and green for Christmas, pink and red for Valentine’s Day, pastel blue and yellow for Easter, and a more traditional package for the rest of the year.

The makers of seasonal snacks don’t do this for fun. Consumers buy a staggering amount of candy during the holidays, with over $1.6 billion being sold during the 2015 holiday season alone. A good seasonal package design determines whether a candy company will get a share of that revenue increase. That’s because according to the National Confectioner’s Association, almost 65% of consumers prefer holiday candy that incorporates a seasonal design. It follows that the confectioners with better, more eye-catching seasonal designs will win more customers from that majority.

Time to Change it Up?

Candy sales may spike during the Christmas season, but not many food products (except maybe turkey) experience the same kind of seasonal variation. Many of these companies tweak their packaging designs on a regular basis, however, regardless of seasonal sales. What causes a Food and Beverage company to change their packaging formula in this case?

Declining Sales Lead to Total Package Redesign

The way a F&B design looks contributes a large amount to whether it sells. Research from Nielsen, for example, shows that almost 60% of buying decisions are made at the shelf – where the consumer has no information other than what’s printed on the package they’re looking at. Package design is critical to sales – and the right package design can rescue a flagging brand.

Such as the case with Lean Cuisine. After years of declining revenues, Lean Cuisine made a change. They used audience research to determine that their previous package was strongly associated with bland diet food, which has gone out of fashion in recent years. They completely redid their logo and packaging in order to associate their food with a more lifestyle-oriented image. As a result, their revenues did a complete rebound, recapturing a 17% loss and experiencing a 3.7% boost in the following year.

Tweaking a Well-Known Brand to Capitalize on Long-Term Revenue

Some food brands are so well-known that you can probably see their packaging in your sleep. Brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Doritos, Cheez-Its – their logos and package artwork instantly come to mind once you think of them. These brands are long-term winners, so why do companies tweak their package designs?

As it turns out, there’s a fine line between “timeless” and “dated.” F&B manufacturers from brands new and old are constantly tweaking their designs so that their brands and logos keep in tune with the latest design trends while remaining recognizable to consumers. The changes may be hard to spot, but they can have a huge cumulative impact.

As a quick example, let’s take a look at some recent iterations of the Coca-Cola logo. At its most basic, the Coca-Cola logo is just white cursive font on a red background. In the early 2000’s, however, the logo was given a drop shadow, and it was surrounded with fake water droplets to simulate condensation. By the end of the decade, the droplets and the drop shadow were gone, the letters in the logo were slightly thinner, and the background was a different shade of red.

Unless you paid careful attention, you probably didn’t notice any of those changes. When you look see the designs next to one another, however, the differences are apparent – as is the dated-ness of the older design.

Keeping a consistent, high-quality brand design over a long period of time can have significant benefits. In blind taste tests, for example, participants universally rank Pepsi as tastier than Coke. Once participants can see the label of what they’re drinking, however, they switch their opinions around. The power of the Coca-Cola brand is so strong that it can literally shift your perception of taste – and that’s why good packaging artwork is important.

Changing Packaging to Fit Regulations

One last reason that F&B brands change their packaging? They may be required by law.

Starting in 2016, the FDA began to introduce requirements for an updated nutrition label. The new label features larger font for improved readability, requires F&B manufacturers to point out the link between obesity and heart disease, and implements new requirements for listing certain ingredients. While manufacturers have had plenty of time to prepare for this change, other changes have been both sudden and industry-defining.

For one example of how a sudden change may have manufacturers scrambling to change their artwork, take a look at almond milk. In September 2018, the FDA announced that it would begin taking a look at all plant-based dairy alternatives – and the result of its inquiry might mean that almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, and similar products might all need to change their names! This kind of upheaval is endemic in the food and beverage industry, and it’s one reason why artwork managers need to stay on their toes.

Keep Abreast of Trends and Regulations with Intelligent Artwork Management

Artwork managers in food and beverage companies have five big reasons to change up their labels and packaging on a regular basis:

  1. Implementing seasonal product packaging variations
  2. Refreshing an underperforming product line
  3. Tweaking a successful product line
  4. Complying with changing FDA regulations
  5. Customizing product packaging

The best way to manage all of this is with an automated, configurable solutions that allows you to manage packaging artwork through the end-to-end product lifecycle. You need to be able to quickly change labels, to reduce time to market, especially if your company offers more than one kind of product. As such, you’ll have to cope with the challenges that this entails. Specifically, these challenges include:

  • Timing
     You need to time your label changes correctly. If you want to implement a seasonal label for Halloween, for instance, then you’ll want your labels to start showing up on the market in the first week of September and disappear during the first week of November. Depending on how long it takes to get your product into stores, that might mean printing labels months in advance. Here, time to market is key.
  • Consistency
    When you switch to the new version of a label, you don’t want the old label showing up anywhere. The means coordinating with manufacturers and label printers so that the new label and logo start showing up uniformly across all your product lines and related brands.
  • Localization
    Different areas have different regulatory regimes, and new regulations crop up all the time. To avoid product recalls, you need to make sure that your labels in different areas are rapidly updated to reflect the changing regulatory environment.

In order to meet these challenges, retailers need to automate and centralize their artwork management solutions. Your solution needs to collect inputs from multiple sources, enforce strong version control, and eliminate error-prone manual processes. This will let you design, approve, and implement artwork changes with calm confidence, allowing you to plan new packaging and logo strategies months in advance – as opposed to scrambling to get your product on shelves in time for the holidays.

Want to learn more about how to get your new packaging approved and printed, fast? Check out our free ebook, “From Chaos to Calm: How to Digitally Transform the Artwork Management Process,” and get the help you need to speed up your new product artwork into production and into the hands of consumers.