Blog Entries Tagged as packaging

The window into a product

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: packaging

As we were putting this issue to bed late last month, news broke that a California judge had dismissed a suit claiming that Jim Beam falsely claimed on its label that the product was “handcrafted.”

The judge wrote: “A reasonable consumer wouldn’t interpret the word ‘handcrafted’ on a bourbon bottle to mean the product is literally ‘created by a hand process rather than by a machine.’”

We had been following this story and other related stories for months. In fact, two similar lawsuits against Maker’s Mark bourbon, another Beam Suntory brand, were dismissed this year. Those suits also focused on the bottle labeling, which also touted the bourbon as handmade.

Hearing of all of the stories—legal cases, really—surrounding beverage labeling prompted us to look into the issue. The result is this month’s cover story written by Heather Landi [page 55].

The issues are much greater and more complex than it just being about marketers making claims on their labels, as the story points out. They incorporate widely debated issues over ingredients and what and how ingredients are listed on a label that include federal legislation that is under consideration.

As Heather writes: “The legislation comes at a time when the issue of transparency in the food and beverage business is a hot topic as consumers are increasingly demanding that food and beverage brands come clean about what is and isn’t in the products, where the products were produced and how they were manufactured.”

Millennials are much more label-savvy than their predecessors. Fueled by the immediacy and omnipresence of social media, their perceived issues about a product’s authenticity or ingredients are shared and amplified way beyond what product marketers have experienced before.

This demand for more information about products has an emerging technology component, and one related to the product label as well.

“Next generation” product codes, similar to ubiquitous product barcodes, are in development that will allow products to carry information that consumers are seeking, such as ingredients, allergen information, where the product was made, and the like. 

GS1, the non-profit organization that assigns the unique numbers in barcodes, has developed a double-layered barcode it calls the “data bar,” NBC News has reported. The data bar can be scanned by the consumer using a smartphone app to access the information and provide links to additional information about the product.

The technology has been deployed by German retailer Metro, which has launched the PRO Trace smartphone app. With the technology in hand a consumer can see, as NBC News reported, that a filet of salmon on sale in Berlin on August 25 was caught at the Bremnes Seashore fish farm off the coast of Norway on August 17 and processed in Germany on August 21. “It’s about trust. Our customers challenge us to offer sustainable and safe products,” Lena vom Stein, a responsibility project manager at Metro, told NBC News.

As beverage marketers are increasingly challenged by balancing the demand for transparency and accuracy with successfully marketing their products’ points of differentiation, could technology solutions be far behind?  

Is Packaging Being Overlooked?

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: packaging

This column’s headline may sound a bit odd. After all, if any part of a beverage is hard to overlook, it’s got to be the package. But it’s not consumers who are overlooking packaging, apparently, it’s marketers, who aren’t making it a priority, and are really hurting their brands as a result. 

These are the findings of a new study on the impact of beverage packaging by the global marketing technology company Affinnova. 

At Beverage World, we have been thinking a lot about packaging lately, so this seemed like the perfect time to discuss the results of this study. Between this issue and the November issue, we present three major sections on packaging, In this issue you will find The Future of Packaging beginning on page 51. You’ll also find our in-depth preview of the Pack Expo show beginning on page 66. I’m also very excited about the winners of our 2014 Global Packaging Design Awards, which will be announced in the November issue. I’ve already seen the winners and I can assure you they are quite impressive indeed. 

But let’s get back to the Affinnova study. Titled “Packaging Design Trend Watch—The Beverage Aisle,” it used Affinnova’s Design Audit technology to analyze the packaging in the water enhancer, energy drink, flavored sparkling water, flavored enhanced water and sparkling fruit juice categories. Designs were measured on their ability to grab and hold consumer attention, strengthen consumer brand perceptions and help convert consumers to purchase.

 The study discovered that in the energy drink category, relatively newer brands—NOS and AMP—have struggled to gain share against Red Bull and Monster, despite the distribution and advertising muscle of their parent companies, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Affinnova’s study suggests that inferior package designs by NOS and AMP are primarily to blame: they fail to attract consumers’ attention or drive purchase at shelf. However, in the sparkling water category, recent entrant Sparkling ICE used effective package design to overcome limited distribution and advertising support, beating out long-established category leaders such as Perrier. 

In short, package design is a powerful driver of a product’s success or failure. Says Waleed Al-Atraqchi, President and CEO of Affinnova, “Package design is the least expensive and most essential part of the marketing mix, helping to drive trial, repeat purchase and brand equity—yet it only gets a fraction of the attention that advertising or promotion receive. Brands that put energy into creating strong package designs gain a tremendous competitive advantage.” 

Among the study’s other findings: Exceptional package design helped Minute Maid overcome a late start in the liquid enhancer category; products like Starbucks Refreshers have gained ground by using package design to attract consumers who seek softer, less macho brand qualities, and Glaceau Vitaminwater trailed Pepsi’s Sobe Lifewater when it came to grabbing consumers’ attention and driving brand equity through package design.

The study was conducted in April 2014 and involved 5,000 U.S. consumers—and there’s a lot more information from it, which can all be accessed at 


Packaging of Tomorrow

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: packaging

I found it fitting that Disney World, home of Tomorrowland, recently announced one of the more futuristic uses of radio frequency identification technology (perhaps better known by its acronym: RFID). For those of you not familiar with RFID, it’s a technology that uses small tags on items to beam signals back and forth to readers. The result is the ability to easily track products as they pass by the readers, like in the beverage warehouse, for instance.

The interesting Disney twist is that the RFID chip won’t be placed on any of the company’s products, but on people. That’s right, the park’s guests will be given what are called “MagicBands” containing RFID tags that will serve as a guest’s room key, theme park ticket, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card and optional payment account all rolled into one.

This innovative use of the technology reminded me of all the promises we’ve heard about RFID and other advanced technology over the years. Several years ago, the vision was that RFID tags would get to be so inexpensive that they could be placed on individual items, such as cans of soda. We’re not quite there yet, but as the Disney MagicBands bear out, we might be getting closer.

Just consider the possibilities. Individual packages of soda, beer or other beverages containing the tiny tags could one day be part of an advanced “smart home” system. Every time the consumer finishes drinking a bottle of Coke, for instance, disposing the empty package would trigger a reader that automatically orders them another one as part of their next home delivery from the local supermarket.

The possibilities of such technology are really endless. The only limitations so far have been the cost of the RFID tags, which until now have been too expensive for individual items.

RFID is just one technology that has the potential to revolutionize beverage packaging. Others are already in use, such as QR codes that enable consumers to scan the package label with their smart phones, linking to websites or videos with more information or special promotions.

David Turner, principal and founder, Turner Duckworth Design, recently emailed me his 2013 predictions for beverage packaging. He started by pointing out that beverage packaging really hasn’t changed very much in the past 100 years or so. So are we overdue for a major change? He believes so. “Not to the form of packaging, but to its role,” he said. “Packaging is the one part of a beverage brand’s marketing that’s guaranteed to reach the consumer. With the advent of image recognition technologies, the package can come to life through mobile devices as an interactive hub for information and entertainment.”

Now that sounds just about as innovative as Disney’s MagicBands. The beverage package’s role has remained unchanged for decades. All it needs are these emerging technologies to give it that extra layer of functionality.

So who knows what the future will hold. But if Turner is right, we may be entering a new era where the beverage package takes on even greater importance than it’s had until now. It truly will be the packaging of tomorrow.