Leveraging Consumer Research To Fuel Packaging Innovation

Today’s consumer marketplace is a more challenging environment to thrive in than ever before. Educated consumers are constantly bombarded with an abundance of choice. Tastes are constantly changing. Consumers are demanding. And that means marketers have to demand more from themselves in order to gain the shopper’s attention and favor.

The truth is, it’s no longer enough to just be noticed. Your product has to stand out—not to mention follow through on whatever promise it’s made to the consumer. As Procter and Gamble likes to say, it comes down to the famous two moments of truth. First, you have to win on the shelves. Consumers have to see your package in the store and say, “I want that.” However, the story can’t end there. The second moment comes when they take the product home and use it. The functionality of the product must be well thought out and designed to create the best experience possible. This is what keeps consumers coming back. This is how marketers win in the end.

The Value of Research

Brand owners, however, do not have to navigate these waters on their own. For decades, TricorBraun and other suppliers have performed consumer research in order to gain insights into the needs, wants and behaviors of end users.

Today, leveraging this research is more important than ever before. By looking inside the mind of the consumer and gleaning a picture of how and why they use products, we are able to elevate every aspect of packaging design to help companies win on the shelf and at home.

By utilizing the insights and experience gained through this consistent mining of human behavior, we are able to push packaging beyond the expected. The value of understanding an ever-changing consumer landscape is enormous. When we collaborate with marketers, it’s not simply to execute what is asked for. It is to help take packaging solutions to another level, to stimulate growth, brand loyalty and ultimately give consumers what they’re looking for—all the while celebrating the wins that fuel the brand owner’s sales.

Consumer Mining

In order to make meaningful discoveries that lead to insightful innovation, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. We want to look at the consumer from all angles. We want to delve into the way they live, as well as what they want and need out of the products they use. We want to get as robust a picture of the consumer’s desires and behaviors as possible. Only then can we create designs that push packaging forward.

So we start by understanding the consumer’s behavior: how they think, how they act, why, what’s important to them. This will give us a better understanding of when, where and how they interface with the products they use. If we’re talking to a consumer that is constantly on the go, for example, then we know portability is likely important to them.

Armed with a clear picture of who the consumer is, we turn to more specific thoughts on the products and packaging we’re researching. We allow them to talk to us about what they like when they’re in the aisle. There are a million choices out there. What has gravity for them? It could be a package’s decoration. It could be the structural design. It could be any number of factors. What types of packages get noticed on shelf and why? What do the packages that they pick up have in common? We show consumers packaging that exists and listen to what they have to say. We show consumers packaging they’ve never seen and discover what new ideas interest them. In the end, we have a much clearer idea of what consumers want. Which is ultimately the best path to a brand win.

The idea behind this research is simple. We listen, we watch, we learn. This allows us to identify otherwise unspotted or unidentified opportunities. As consumers ourselves, we sometimes assume our own experience can guide us. We know what we like. We have an idea of what has worked in the past. But by constantly examining how people live and how their lifestyles and preferences are changing, we’re able to anticipate behavior shifts in the future. That’s how sales are made.

Insights In Action

Recently, we completed a study focused on packaging design for beverage additives. The growth of the liquid beverage additive category has been unparalleled. As always, consumers had a lot to share. Today’s additive offerings are not failing, but we found several avenues for improvement. Consumers complained that the packages available today are not always as portable as they’d like them to be, they sometimes leak and consumers crave some type of confirmation that the package is actually sealed.

The designs we developed leverage our insight from this study and ultimately deliver what consumers want and need, all the while respecting the behavior patterns that are going to influence and drive usage. Consumers told us they want packages that are small, slim and portable. They want solutions that are ergonomic and easy to squeeze. They want a closure that provides a clean dispense and doesn’t leak. They want to maintain the ability to customize their beverage depending upon the mood they are in. The result is beverage additive packaging custom designed to meet the many demands of end users and keep them happy.

Continuous Exploration

The insights we’ve discovered about consumers lifestyles and tastes have been invaluable. In an ever-shifting marketplace, our work is never done. We will continue to raise the bar and to conduct even more research into the changing needs and behavior of the consumers we serve. We will continue to explore the possibilities, leveraging the insights we learned to discover new ways to deliver exactly what people want from package design. In a world where change is constant, we will continue to proactively engage with consumers in a way that drives our ability to help marketers win. There are always new opportunities to innovate and improve upon what’s out there. We look forward to seeking them out.


Insight Driven Innovation

Suppliers’ ability to dive into a consumer’s mind enables us to more effectively collaborate with brand owners and develop impactful package designs that address identified (and even unidentified) needs. Using our discovered insights, we develop smart, creative solutions. By looking at packaging as a whole, instead of pieces—a holistic approach to package design—we are able to develop realizable solutions that can be executed on time, on spec and on budget. We don’t merely focus on the best vessel or the best dispensing solution—we focus on developing the most attractive, functionally superior package that outperforms the consumer’s expectations.

Becky Donner is vice president of design and market insight for TricorBraun, leading the design and innovation group. Her previous experience includes 20 years with Aptar, including eight years leading the company’s fragrance and cosmetics packaging initiative, followed by two years as director of Aptar’s Latin American marketing.

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