Marriage of virtues7 May 2019
Changing consumer habits means people are increasingly vocal about reducing their plastic waste, being more responsible in the packaging they purchase and relying on products to be healthier. But they also want more convenient solutions – on the go products are booming. Emma-Jane Batey looks at how these seemingly conflicting trends come together?
Convenience packaging manages to somehow deliver on the micro and macro trends of on-the-go practicality and an awareness of packaging sustainability. Perhaps it’s because the innovative thinkers that launch convenience brands are well-suited to disruptive developments, or maybe because responsible consumers make lots of small decisions in how they spend their money – voting with one’s feet has never gone out of fashion.
Whatever the reason, convenience packaging is a hot bed of ingenuity, taking performance materials, appealing designs, and branding that captures consumers' imaginations and muddling it up with right-for-now products that deliver on taste, trend and availability.
The impact of packaging
Good design impacts on all product categories across the convenience sector, with packaging offering an immediate communication tool however and wherever the product is sold. For 'premium, aspirational and lifestyle cereal brand' Dorset Cereals – who have been producing high-quality muesli for over 30 years – beautiful, smartly designed packaging has proved the perfect way to appeal to a new generation of customers that value healthy eating, while still managing to keep long-standing customers happy. The advent of clean eating has seen healthy, low-sugar and often gluten-free snacks go beyond breakfast to become a tasty option throughout the day. Dorset Cereals' branding is not just aimed at the breakfast category, particularly when served with high-protein Greek yoghurt.
“It all began in Dorset with two friends who wanted to completely turn the muesli category on its head,” says Hayley-Jane Doyle, brand manager for Dorset Cereals. “The company is committed to producing high-quality, delicious cereals; the brand encourages eaters to slow down and make sure that simple things in life aren't missed or rushed. Our packaging plays a vital role in our brand – 12 years ago we made the leap into boxes, from bags, and we've never looked back. From a practical perspective, our packaging keeps our cereal fresh, We see our packaging as one of the best tools to provide a voice for the brand and engage with our consumers.”
Doyle continues, “It's important to us that our packaging completely epitomises the brand. We’ve worked hard to achieve a texture to our boxes that provides the sensory experience we know consumers are looking for and expect from a premium brand such as Dorset Cereals. This texture enables the outer cartons to look and feel natural, wholesome and authentic. The design on the front is simplistic, classic and raw – we like to be completely clear and transparent about our products and always do it in a stylish, slick and contemporary way. Our packaging also directs consumers to our website, to get involved in the activities and competitions of our online community.”
Dorset Cereals had a unique solution to the challenge faced when it was designing its premium packaging. Doyle explains, “We found a way to create the gorgeous texture we wanted, while enabling high-quality design and printing, by printing on the opposite side of the board to what would typically be used. We knew the texture was so important to our brand. For our core mueslis and granolas, we use unbleached recyclable board; the inner bag, which holds the cereal, is not currently widely recyclable but we are working hard on changing this so that we can stay true to the morals of the brand and provide our consumers with the materials and reassurance that they are looking for. We need a high-enough food barrier in our film to ensure we are keeping our products as fresh as possible, so we are taking the time to get this right. All our packaging is produced in the UK.”
With the 'look good, do good' focus of luxurious healthy eating a fast growing sector, Dorset Cereals' latest launch is its Spectacular Grains, with packaging that 'communicates the inventive, innovative and exciting goodness packed inside'. Doyle adds, “We've received a lot of feedback that consumers display Dorset Cereals boxes in their kitchen when they have visitors round; they feel that the brand represents a little bit of who they are. With Spectacular Grains, we used tall, skinny packs to build the premium, differentiated credentials of the brand, as well as a wood-effect to really dial-up those design cues on the pack and make them feel really special when standing on your kitchen table.”
Hemp is in
Entrepreneur Greg Taylor's latest launch sees him put his magic touch to a hemp-infused popcorn, thus marrying his proven experience in luxury bagged popcorn (Greg is the mastermind behind the fast-growing Retrocorn brand) with the increasingly acceptable product of hemp. Available in 12g bags, perfect for on-the-go snacking as well as grown-up lunch boxes, Hempop is 'a delicious tasting CBD-infused popcorn. All three flavours are made using natural ingredients and contain 10mg of Cannabidiol (CBD) per 12g bag'.
Taylor explains how the artisan popcorn sector shows no sign of slowing down, as it takes its place as the cooler cousin of the crisp. “Popcorn already benefits from its 'health halo' and is one of the most popular healthy-snacking products currently on the market. Hempop is a great way to add CBD into your diet; our popcorn is infused with CBD oil and CBDP, which is a powder form of CBD, giving the popcorn a subtle hemp taste, with the benefit that the powder is absorbed into the body up to 50% better. CBD is gaining momentum in the health and wellness markets; it's an appealing option for those who are looking for relief from pain and other symptoms without the mind-altering effects of marijuana.”
The 12g packets play on the alternative, yet increasingly mainstream, appeal of its popcorn and hemp combo, with a matte dark-green panel at the top of its foil bags and almost neon-coloured writing to show the flavour varieties – sweet, sweet and salty, and sweet turmeric (the latter packing three trends in one product – turmeric will be big news in 2019).
Another huge driver in the convenience sector is the trend for high protein. As much as carbs and white sugar got a pasting in 2018, high protein (and high fat) was given a big hug, and will continue to be celebrated in 2019, particularly as the NHS has now got on board to advise diabetics that carbs are bad and protein is good.
Power of protein
Rafael Rozenson is the founder and CEO of Vieve, a high-protein, bottled, flavoured water that is dedicated to being distinctive.
Rozenson says, “Our packaging offers a way for consumers to easily understand our product, brand proposition and benefits. It's easy to see on the pack why you would drink the product, as it states that it is high protein, low calorie and dairy free among other things. The most challenging part was finding a way to stand out in the soft-drinks aisle, as well as making sure we met all the regulatory and retailer requirements for the packaging.”
With the Vieve packaging tasked with standing out on the shelf in what is a competitive and cluttered category, Rozenson took his aim at “disrupting the sports-nutrition market with a game-changing new protein drink, which is water-based, packed with 20g of protein, zero sugar, dairy free and superior in taste to anything else on the market”.
Rozenson says, “Vieve makes sports nutrition more accessible to a mass-market audience through our hydrating, on-the-go, fruit-flavoured protein waters. Our packaging needs to communicate the key brand benefits and reflect some of the brand's personality in a unique, eye-catching way. Essentially, the packaging brief was to start with the store in mind and work backwards from there. I wanted to look outside the category for inspiration; we wanted to be really disruptive, so we looked to brands like Apple as opposed to other sports-nutrition brands.”
The fact is that convenience is never going to go out of fashion. Even though consumers are increasingly demanding less plastic waste, smarter closures and more responsible solutions, they're never going to ask for products to be less convenient. So it's no surprise that brands that create and deliver packaging and products that make savvy consumers want to part with their money are enjoying the success they deserve.