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Standing out from the pack: bringing new functionality to the snack sector
With a huge and varied selection of savoury snack products on the retail shelf, it can be difficult for brand owners to offer something unique to consumers. Packaging is a key element that can provide differentiation and important added-value benefits. Using research from GlobalData, Callum Tyndall finds out more.
Snacks are an inherently versatile food sector, given their usage both privately and in a variety of social situations. Yet, with consumers feeling increasingly time-pressured and the subsequent rise of convenience-based purchasing, snacking has been experiencing new growth. However, far from taking this surge in interest for granted, manufacturers need to consider what they can do to continue innovation in the sector. The functionality of packs has always been of particular importance in this category, given the emphasis on convenience and efficiency, and finding new ways to innovate additional functionality will help secure brands’ place in the snack sector as it continues to grow.
In the upcoming report from GlobalData, Category Packaging Opportunities: Savory Snacks, packaging analyst Pawel Urban explores the drivers behind innovation in the sector and identifies pack formats and features that make a brand worth paying more for. Drawing from the research detailed in the report, we delve into the areas and techniques where manufacturers have already found success as well as the opportunities that brands should look to explore in the future.
Category Packaging Opportunities: Savory Snacks: Identifying pack formats and features that make a brand worth paying more for
Novelty must meet efficiency to satisfy prioritisation of portability
According to GlobalData’s 2018 Q3 global consumer survey, 62% of people enjoy snacking between meals. Not only does this suggest a significant consumer base, it is indicative of the importance that must be placed on portability when designing any kind of snack packaging. There are a variety of other trends making their presence known in the snack market – desire for premiumisation producing upmarket snacks and wellness concerns leading to health-focused snacks, for example – but even while exploring these areas it is important that manufacturers keep in mind the ultimate importance of portable functionality.
In the report, Urban points out that “the ability to allow snacking in almost any conditions is one of the factors that drives packaging innovations in this highly competitive sector.”
This is not to say, however, that manufacturers should be discouraged from experimenting with novel solutions to snack packaging. The report highlights that consumers are looking for novel and experiential products, packaging concepts that can break the mould of their usual routine and offer something visually impressive. This must be paired, however, with a mind towards the efficiency of the solution and how well it still satisfies the desire for easy consumption or easy sharing. By balancing the novelty of an experimental concept with an expected level of efficiency, manufacturers can create, according to the report, "an unusual ritual that will bond the consumer to the brand."
Elevating the format: premium popcorn and the value of simplicity
One of the crossover trends identified in the report is consumers’ interest in the premiumisation of products. Both the food and drinks industries have seen increasing demand for premium versions of otherwise everyday products and packaging has played a significant part in this transformation. With the aforementioned survey finding that 58% of respondents consume savoury snacks at least once or twice a week, and 11% doing so more than four times a week, it is perhaps unsurprising that consumers are looking for elevated versions of products they have come to regularly consume.
Spotlighted in the report is the evolution of popcorn from a basic snack, largely enjoyed in the specific scenario of a cinema visit, to near-gourmet levels. Packs in the sector are typically flexible, but manufacturers have added functionality by switching to more rigid, convenient-to-hold and easy-to-dispense tubs or tins that serve not only a practical purpose but raise the presentation level of the products. 4700 BC gourmet popcorn, for example, comes in a spiral-wound board presentation tube that would more typically be associated with alcoholic drinks. Decorative embossing also serves to elevate the visual appeal of the product and suggests a premium feel.
Premiumisation does not have to equal elaborate design, however, as it is also possible to add value with packs that appear premium yet are deceptively simple in function. Given that consumers are largely seeking practicality and convenience when looking for snack products, brands should not discount the possibility of providing premium visual appeal while maintaining inexpensive solutions that focus on practicality. The report highlights, for example, Lorenz Snack World roasted pistachio nuts, which are packaged in a glossy finish pouch with an interior reflective surface. Using a curved top seal, the packaging also gives the product an enhanced appearance while retaining easy usability.
Natural and raw: appealing to transparency and the rising desire for wellness
Premiumisation is not the only way to elevate the appeal of snack packaging. The report also highlights the opportunities available in using packaging to deliver a ‘natural’ or ‘raw’ message. With consumers increasingly expecting brands to show transparency about their products and the processes behind them, along with greater interest in health and wellness, the appeal of products with a ‘natural’ appeal is on the rise. As the term that consumers most use to describe what healthy means to them, according to GlobalData’s 2017 Q4 global consumer survey, the ability for manufacturers to present products in a naturalistic manner is likely to have a significant appeal.
By using raw or natural-looking materials in packaging, brands can help more closely align their products with the sourcing and formulation of them and deliver a clear message to consumers. Using such materials not only suggests that the product is natural, but can also provide a novel experience through the feel or appearance of the material. In doing so, brands can tap into both the consumer desire for greater product transparency and align their product with the premiumisation & indulgence mega-trend as they provide consumers with a more special format than the norm.
The report spotlights Inna Bajka Super Dobro Bombki Witaminowe as an example of packaging opportunities in the ‘natural’ space. A mix of sunflower seeds and dried fruit, the product is contained within an unprinted clear film sachet (suggesting transparency) and an outer tube, predominantly made of board, which uses an unbleached Kraft finish. Altogether, the packaging combines to indicate sustainability, transparency, and natural authenticity. There are a variety of ways in which brands can target these areas, and the approach will not be suited to all products of course, but if successful, there is a significant opportunity for brands to tap into several mega-trends with one packaging solution.