Right to buy

16 June 2017

Right to buy

Right to buy

The millennial market is notoriously fickle but brands which take a responsible approach to packaging are more likely to stand out to this group of young, marketing-savvy consumers. Emma Jane Batey looks at how some brands are promoting these responsibilities.

Brand disloyalty is the buzzword for marketing to millennials. Loyalty cannot be bought when consumers are one click away from changing brands. Advertising-savvy consumers are wise to sales tricks and only want to spend their money on good, honest products that stick to their promise. So when faced with two similar products, it's known that the product with the more responsible approach to manufacture and development is more likely be chosen.


Perhaps the most exciting brands are those that are developing and promoting their responsibility focus with a true sense of conviction. After all, millennials, baby boomers and everyone in between hates being lied to. Saying your brand takes its responsibility seriously is not the same as actually doing it with feeling.


Baby boom


Packaging's role in the responsibility movement is two-fold; standing out on the shelf, and utilising smart materials and processes. For fast growing children's food brand Piccolo, these two roles combine to create a beautiful, delicious and sustainably smart product. Officially launched in April 2016 and already stocked in more than 1000 retailers across the UK, including Boots, Waitrose, Whole Foods and Asda, the company has already hit its projected turnover of over £2 million for 2017.


Clemmie Turner, marketing manager at Piccolo, told Packaging Today that the company’s unique look and feel was developed by co-founder and creative director Kane O’Flaherty. “His aim was to adopt a ‘challenger’ way of thinking in all that Piccolo does. The brand needed a single-minded visual feel that cut through the clutter of the over-crowded baby food market, enabling the layers of depth which the brand could should about,” she says. “Taking advantage of the overused solid colours and dated food photography within the category, Piccolo came to own an identity that was a true reflection of its target audience while keeping it cool and current.”


The “vote with your feet” aspect of Piccolo's packaging development has allowed the brand to have easy customer recognition and differentiation. “Piccolo is a brand that speaks to parents. The largest feedback the brand receives tends to be linked to the pack designs,” Turner says. “Our pattern format is diverse enough to highlight the ingredients, heighten the pouch flavour yet still retain consistency within the range on the shelf. This pattern was then transcended across all other marketing collateral and social elements, allowing the pattern identity to breathe more.”


All the Piccolo pouches are made in a family-owned workshop in regional Italy, where co-founder Catherine Gazzoli comes from, and near the family farms which grow many of the brand's organic ingredients. The company's story is genuine, an important factor when it comes to responsibility. Turner notes: “The brand is dedicated to sourcing 100% organic ingredients and the nature of this is also reflected in the matte material used in the pouch. Piccolo was the first baby food brand in the UK to adopt this matte pouch packaging, which extended the brand experience into the physical. We are also about to launch the UK's first ever transparent pouches in our Piccolo Pure range, so parents can see exactly what they're choosing for their baby.”


Piccolo's use of pouches is a large nod to its focus on responsible packaging. “It's a great time for the pouch market as sales are growing 21% [Kantar data] vs jars, which are in decline by 9%,” Turner says. “There are many benefits to pouches over jars; they're light and travel-friendly, pouches offer great convenience with no risk of contamination through 'double dipping'. This special packaging is also more sustainable than glass jars and keeps the product fresh with all the nutrients inside as products inside jars can risk diminishing, discolouration etc from being exposed to the sunlight.”


Drink responsibly


Alcoholic drinks brands are also appreciating the value of responsibility, tapping into the millennial market by engaging with consumers through social media. Promoting smart packaging is a manifestation of that approach. For iconic vodka brand Absolut, the latest limited edition bottle really tells a story, a story that ties in online engagement with music, experiences and design.


The world's fourth largest premium spirits brand, Absolut Vodka, part of The Absolut Company and also Pernod Ricard, is produced in Ahus, Sweden. Its latest launch is the Absolut Facet Limited Edition bottle, which is a distinctive blue glass bottle that has been “cut into like a gem”.


 “With the Absolut Facet Limited Edition bottle, we want to celebrate the unexpected and encourage people to be open to the different journeys a night could take you,” says Gaia Gilardini, global communications director of Absolut. “We believe the best nights are the ones that happen out of the blue – unplanned and spontaneous. To further demonstrate this, our latest #AbsolutNights campaign also aims to inspire people to celebrate spontaneity and the connections you might make along the way.” Alongside the eye-catching glass bottle, the product launch comes complete with a hashtag, an “unexpected playlists” collaboration with Spotify, and a series of films that depict “various unforgettable, unexpected nights from different individual perspectives”.


The Absolut Facet launch is clearly designed to go beyond the idea of “here's a new bottle on the shelf”, and it is clear that enabling consumers to wholeheartedly buy into a brand is where it's at. Conor Rua, public relations representative for Absolut, appreciates that the responsible aspect of using endlessly-recyclable glass is certainly an important element in creating a “whole story” brand. “The coloured glass meant that Absolut could maximize the amount of recycled glass content in the Facet bottle without having to worry about discolouration,” Rua says. “The bottle is a result of many rounds of testing, not only of the aesthetics but also technical details to ensure production efficiency without having to change machine parts or make adjustments throughout the supply chain.”


Artisan approach


But it's not just major global brands that value responsibility when it comes to building a consumer base that really buy into your product. Fast growing artisan beer brand OOF, which hails from the south of France, chose responsible packaging for its craft beers for various reasons. Co-founder Tony Pearson-Smith explains that OOF sourced its brown glass bottles after an extensive search of online and local suppliers.  “We really felt it was down to two choices for us, the 'long neck' or 'stubby' in 33cl as these are pretty much the industry standard for entry level brands,” he says. “We decided against the stubby as we couldn't source them at an affordable price and we felt our beers would benefit from the longer, more elegant shape of the long neck. We also discovered that brown glass was better at increasing shelf life in our product.”


With the artisan beer trend showing no signs of slowing down, OOF is keen to start as it means to go on. Pearson-Smith adds: “We're excited to be working on a returns policy like they used to do in the 70s for our bottles, as we feel this will go some way to diminishing the number of bottles that end up in landfill, even though they can of course be recycled. It may also cut our production costs which, as a small producer, is critical. It's also an appealing, retro-style way to engage with our customers. We already sanitise and reuse our bottles as much as possible to do our bit to offset our carbon footprint.”


With OOF Artisan Beers currently looking for new stockists to join its roster of delis, hotels and bars, the whimsical brand is also adding to its list of brews, which include beers named Bob (a stout), Serge (IPA), and Jeremy (blonde). Pearson-Smith adds: “I am encouraging many 'non beer drinkers' to taste, smell, [and] food pair with beers to highlight the similarities beer has with wine as a drink to savour. In the future we may consider cans over bottles if we can satisfy ourselves that the beer keeps fresh. There are advantages to be gained from a storage and distribution point of view, especially given the shape and weight of the bottles.”


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