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The visual and functional characteristics of food and drink packaging were rated as being key in benefiting a brand – with appearance trumping practicality, according to a report by

The report, citing a recent study by consultants Pira International, said that brand strength was strongly linked to packaging performance. The latter can be measured using a raft of metrics; functional, ethical, financial, visual and differential.

The research assesses how brand managers quantify packaging performance when measuring brand strength. The study is aimed at helping suppliers in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry with an insight into how brands can boost the value of packaging to build brand strength.

The researchers looked at 30 end-uses – including 18 food and drink uses and seven personal care applications – and highlighted the top ten brand strengths.

Marketing: In terms of marketing, the paper said differentiation is key to ensuring the brand stands out. Brand differentiation means the packaging allows the product to outshine its rivals to make “a brand more valuable than the competition in the eyes of the target consumer”.

Product satisfaction: Product satisfaction was identified as the most important strength – and the one most likely to promote repeat purchase, frequency of purchase and brand reputation.

Top of the packaging performance scorecard in terms of brand strength are a raft of attributes related to appearance.

The following attributes were cited as important:  Packaging should be recognisable and the colours used pleasing to consumers.  Packaging should have the ability to “preserve quality” and appeal to customers.  Packaging should be able to protect the product, easy to use and recyclable.

There report identifies “a hierarchy of needs for packaging performance” – beginning with the visual before moving onto how well it performs its job.

Packaging’s role in reinforcing the strength of the brand lies in it communicating the product’s benefits.

“In order to strengthen the relationship between the brand and the consumer, and consequently the contribution of packaging performance to brand strength, over the next five years brand owners will focus on brand recognition, improved usability and reduced carbon footprint to steer packaging development,” said Pira.

The group cited evidence that FMCG consumers are “more conscious of packaging waste” and there was a “greater onus on packaging functionality in terms of reliability due to the frequency of repeat exposure”.

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