The Packaging Pitch: using trends to future proof your business
By Fresh Produce Marketing founder Lisa Cork
I love researching and monitoring food trends. When you’ve been doing it for several years, you can actually see trends evolve, drive product development and penetrate the marketplace.
One of the important strategies I use in my work with clients is to research and evaluate current trends to see how I can apply them or parts of them to the packaging strategy I develop. Being up-to-speed with trends and making them part of your business culture is one way to future proof your business and your on-pack message.
Google the words "food trends" and you will thousands of hits. I am a fan of The Food Channel’s Top Ten lists. They do them annually and they have huge credibility in selecting food trends, given the depth and breadth of the food world they see.
How do you put trend analysis to work for you? Let’s look at a couple of case studies.
Edible Gems: introducing a new food category to Australia
I was hired by stonefruit growers Michael and Jina Tripodi in Victoria, Australia to develop the packaging, branding and on-pack message for a new product they were bringing to market – freshly shelled beans and peas. While a product like a fresh Borlotti bean is not new to most countries, freshly shelling the beans and putting them into 'stay-fresh' pre-packed with a 14 day shelf life is.
As far my research showed, we were working on a world first new category. One of the first things I do is research to find the consumer angle and sure enough came across The Food Channel's Top Ten Foods list for 2010. One of the items on the list was beans, and I knew we were onto a winner.
When I designed the brand for this new product, I took into account the bean trend and designed the packaging and branding to include an entire range of beans/peas in the future, plus I ensured I future proofed their packaging investment by designing the pack to comfortably accommodate - in both style and tone - more products in the range. This is just one example of how a trend can influence packaging and brand design.
"Local" trend starts small, then gets big
One product I’ve developed huge respect for here in New Zealand is a product called Heartland Chips. This was a new potato chip that entered a crowded category dominated by big national and international brands. While competition was stiff, the brand found a following based on its small, local, grower driven feel.
If you go back in time using food trends, "local" has been on the trend radar in different guises since 2009-10. This chip brand embraced the "local" trend and brought this trend to life in its brand and in its brand story.
Just a few months ago, Heartland’s major national competitor, Bluebird Chips, launched their own version of a "local" chip called, Local Harvest. According to New Zealand newspaper Central South Island Farmer, Bluebird had to respond with a competitive offer because they were losing share to the "local" brand product. I think this is a great example of how using trends can drive new products and generate more product value.
Ideas for South America
So, what’s on the horizon for 2012? For those of you based in South America, there are some fantastic trends coming out of your region. Consider these examples:
The Top Ten Foods list for 2011 identified the Brazilian cupuacu fruit as the next super fruit. We’ve all observed the success of the Acai berry – what opportunities exist for you to tap into this South American specialty?
And how about you Peruvians? Did you know Peruvian food has been identified as one of the top food trends for 2012? Apparently Lima’s Mistura Food Festival is now one of the biggest food festivals in the world. Can you capture this growing interest in your packaging, branding or marketing? I am sure the answer is 'si'.
These are just a few examples of how trends can influence your packaging and branding strategy and help you future proof your business. If you want to take advantage of trends but are not sure how, then drop me a line. This is one of techniques I use frequently when working with companies on their branding and packaging strategy.
So what are the opportunities for Chilean producers? For one, the trend watchers and trend setters definitely have South America on their radar. They will be looking for and seeking new food products to come out of the region. So from a macro trend point of view, you are in the right place!
You also have some unique and emerging products that are Top Ten food trend worthy. Products like your Merken seasoning sound amazing (I can’t wait to try it when I visit Santiago this month). But here is the caution – your packaging must tell the story of the product and find the angle or the pitch that gets global foodies interested.
If I was marketing it, there are two things that intrigue me: one is the origin of the product and it being a combination Chilean and Mapuche food. There is strong interest in ethnic, local food stories and this seems to tick those boxes. Also, the product is made from a goat horn pepper, which sounds wonderfully intriguing. What is it? There is definitely a marketable angle in either of those product stories. So, why is it, when I did a quick scan of Merken, I didn’t find a pack that grabbed my attention and made me want to buy it? Seems like a missed opportunity and one I would love to chat about more if you are a Merken marketer.
I've also been reading a bit about your Pica Lemons. The concept sounds good – and I am a big believer in segmenting to add value. A caution though – one of the most common packaging mistakes produce companies make is marketing the product variety, and not its consumer benefit. As I read in www.freshfruitportal.com, they have locked in the brand name "Limon de Pica Gourmet". That tells a shopper what it is but fails to tell them why it is unique and worth more dollars. Food for thought.
In South America? Want to talk branding or packaging? Then come and join me at the PMA’s Fresh Connections Chile conference scheduled for Apr. 19. I will be one of the featured guest speakers and I would love the chance to meet you and talk about packaging opportunities. Simply drop me a line (email@example.com) and we can either arrange to meet at the event or the day before or after. I look forward to meeting you!