Convenience store10 February 2020
Time is the most precious resource for busy consumers these days, and packaging has to make sure that it provides those consumers with the quickest, simplest way to prepare or use their products without any delay or frustration. Sonia Sharma finds out more.
Consumers are now living increasingly busy lifestyles where convenience and authenticity are key elements that influence their purchasing decisions – be that food, beverage or personal care products. The largest buying segment are millennials, otherwise known as Generation Y. This demographic – born between 1980 and the late 1990s – are in their prime spending years, and manufacturers and brands are catering to their demands by offering products that fulfil their core needs. Convenience is a fundamental factor for this generation who are used to instant gratification in many areas of their life – whether that be ordering transportation from an app such as Uber, booking a flight at a touch of a button and having the boarding pass on screen within seconds, removing the need for any paper wastage, or using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram where stories and posts can be shared in real-time. This generation is used to having things immediately and with minimum fuss, and they expect the same rapid pace from products.
Millennials have grown up with technology, and as such, brands are constantly looking at ways to integrate this into the experience of the end-users. Initiatives such as ‘table service’, from pub chain JD Wetherspoon, where drinks and meals are ordered via the Wetherspoon app, and paid for through Apple Pay, Google Pay or PayPal negating the need for people to wait in a queue, is just one example. As the Wetherspoon website states: “It’s perfect if you’re visiting the pub on your own and don’t want to lose your table – or you don’t want to carry a large round of drinks back through a busy pub on a tray. It’s also a game changer if you’re not as mobile or you’re sitting a long way away from the bar, in one of our beer gardens or on an upper-floor area.”
Combining technology with convenience is the norm for the millennial and for consumers that experience life at such a pace, the products they choose to purchase must also match this speed with accessibility.
Quicker payment methods are the main driver for today’s modern consumer looking for that instant transaction. Manufacturers are now catering to consumer needs by adding technology into packaging for consumers to enjoy a faster checkout time when they pay, based on the technological foundation of constant connection.
The ‘Clever Cup’ from Costa Coffee is one such example of an integrated payment method through technology. The contactless coffee cup has a silicone base, which contains the contactless chip that can be ‘touched’ on the card reader to complete a purchase. Jason Cotta, managing director at Costa Coffee says that “contactless technology has become increasingly prominent in our daily lives and, through the launch of the new Costa/Barclaycard Clever Cup, we hope to appeal to those tech-savvy customers to help facilitate and drive environmentally-friendly behaviour. Whilst we are committed to ensuring more takeaway coffee cups are recovered and recycled, we also want to incentivise and reward customers who help reduce the number of takeaway cups being wasted. We already offer a 25p discount on hot drinks in all our stores for customers using reusable cups, and hope the innovative Clever Cup will become an additional incentive for increasing the use of reusable cups.”
The Clever Cup can be used anywhere that accepts contactless payments, allowing the customer to pay for a multitude of things with their cup so they are not limited to only Costa stores. Using Barclaycard technology, customers are also able to track their spending, top up their balance and even block the contactless payment element online if the cup has been misplaced.
Rob Morgan, head of Sales and Partnerships at Barclays, says that “today’s shoppers are looking for seamless ways to pay. Our wearable chip technology allows almost any accessory to be transformed into a smart payment device, unlocking the benefits of speed and ease in everyday purchases. We’re proud to be working with Costa Coffee to give the UK another compelling reason to carry a reusable cup as part of their daily routine.”
Another product category that benefits from the convenience element is the personal care market. Research from Mintel shows that US body, hand and footcare product consumers express interest in different packaging formats that suggest convenience, for example, 85% are interested in pump bottles since they suggest easier product application with less mess.
Combining convenience into a cosmetic product is something Yes To Cotton have done in their new product offering, the Anti-Pollution Oxygenated Foaming Cleanser. It integrates the cap into its product by including a screw-on foam-creation pump dispenser closure with a tall actuator that has a separate brush head fitting over the front. The brush head then has a protective cover with a stop-clip around the base of the pump in order to prevent accidental activation. For added aesthetic benefit, the brush head can be seen through the clear over-cap, which may encourage potential users to purchase the product. This ties into a rise in demand for caps that open, close and dispense without coming off the bottle.
Adapting traditional formats in order to cater to consumer needs is a top priority for the personal care industry where end-users demand convenience for on-the-go issues. Recently, style brand VO5 released the Frizz Free Serum Wand, a hair serum in a mascara type bottle. The black plastics slender bottle capitalises on the convenience market by being small enough for users to carry in their bag, and touch-up any flyaway hairs with the flexible comb-type applicator that allows for precise application.
Convenience products are implementing features – such as dual chambers within the pack – to allow consumers to have an item that fulfils two different needs. The Revitalift Triple Power Intensive Skin Revitaliser Serum and Moisturiser L'Oreal Paris is a highly concentrated anti-ageing serum and moisturiser in a dual chamber system.
Rectangular in shape, the pearlised red plastic bottle is lined with flat sides and is held together by an injection-moulded white plastics fitment around the neck. It also has a semi-transparent red plastics snap-on pump dispenser actuator on top of the pack that allows for the dual dispensing nozzle to protrude through a front aperture. The products are contained in separate bottles that are channelled through internal tubes and combined at the point of dispense through a single nozzle with two separate apertures.
When the pump actuator is pushed, pressure is applied to both of the internal springs, causing the product to flow through each of the mechanisms so that a controlled amount of each product emerges, allowing them both to be applied at once – a clever time-saving device.
Convenient mess-free dispensing has become a critical component of pack formats that brands are now using. Changing consumer lifestyles that are increasingly dynamic has led to dispensing mechanisms and portable products that support these changes. The changing demands of consumers are also pushing designers and developers to offer not only novel and innovative factors, but the hands-on use of these forms must also deliver ease.
As consumer lifestyles become more active and hectic, durable delivery systems are needed to consume food and drink on the move. One format in particular, the pouch, has gained unprecedented popularity in recent times. The pouch was previously seen mostly in the baby food sector but is no longer considered a ‘children’s format’ in packaging. Many products now come in the versatile pouch, such as tea, coffee, smoothies and even adult products such as wine and spirits.
Pouches for tea and coffee are extremely popular. Gilly Cowley, founder of Pure Tisanes, decided to use the format for the frozen teabags that her brand produces. “The fresh ingredients – herbs, fruits and spices – are sealed in teabags before being snap frozen and placed into freezer-ready, press-sealed pouches,” she says. “This is the most efficient and convenient way of storing the teabags in the freezer because pouches are more flexible than a more rigid ‘box-like’ container. Our pouches are made from a food-grade, PET freezer-compatible film and are resealable, which is essential for reducing the transfer of flavours between other foods stored in the freezer.”
Tim Fozard at Twinings agrees. “When we launched the mesh pyramid teabags in pouches, they were innovative due to customers being able to see the tea through clear windows in the packaging. In addition to the clear packaging, the resealable strip means the tea is kept as fresh as possible – due to being hygroscopic, tea will absorb odours and moisture, so it is essential to keep the product sealed in order to prevent degradation.”
Consumers lead increasingly busy lives that call for convenient beverage products. The Protein Pouches from Arla tap into this market with a product offering – a convenient 200g protein-packed strawberry and mango yogurt pouch.
“As the protein market continues to grow,” Steph Barker, brand manager at Arla Protein says, “we need to ensure our NPD [new product development] is differentiated and based on consumer insight while still delivering on our brand message of ‘20g of protein a serving’. Our target audience have busy lifestyles, so we wanted to extend the portfolio to include products for on-the-go consumption. So we launched Arla Protein Pouches.
“With a thin silky consistency, the yogurt snack can be squeezed from the packet with ease, meaning you can eat every last drop with no spoon. The glossy black packaging is in line with the rest of our range and provides excellent stand-out on the shelf.
“With consumer demands consistently rising, it is up to the industry in all product categories to provide innovative pack solutions that align themselves to changing consumer lifestyles,” Barker concludes. “The developments within formats, in addition to integrating technology within the products ensure that the market is meeting consumer needs, allowing the brands to remain competitive in their respective sectors.”