Only 11% of consumers 'completely satisfied' with packaging

By Jenni Spinner

- Last updated on GMT

Packaging Matters, a study by MeadWestvaco, looks at how satisfied consumers are with product packages.
Packaging Matters, a study by MeadWestvaco, looks at how satisfied consumers are with product packages.

Related tags Packaging Brand Retailing

MeadWestvaco is offering an indepth look at how consumers really feel about food and beverage packaging; many report they are not perfectly happy with their containers.

The annual study reveals useful, fascinating data on consumers attitudes toward packaging of food, beverages, and other retail products. While packaging meets shopper expectations in some areas, the findings show that in many others, product users feel let down.

Packaging is an important factor driving decisions to purchase—41% of respondents said packaging is an important product attribute, and 36% indicated they tried new brands because the packaging enticed them. However, only about one in 10 consumers report they are completely satisfied with the product packaging they come across.

The MWV team delved into the ins and outs of Packaging Matters 2014 during a web conference. Lessons driven home by the responses could be useful to food manufacturers in improving their own packaging, and ensuring it makes their customers as happy as possible.

Steve Kazanjian, vice president of global creative for MWV, outlined with FoodProductionDaily the findings, and why some of the numbers might serve as a wake-up call to packaging professionals and brand owners.

FPD: Why is packaging satisfaction important for pack staff, brand owners and other stakeholders to be aware of?

Steve Kazanjian: We study packaging because it matters–to brand owners, retailers and consumers. Packaging impacts shopping behavior, influences product satisfaction and motivates consumers in global markets in different ways.

Packaging Matters results show there is opportunity to improve consumer satisfaction with packaging: only 11% of global consumers are completely satisfied today, leaving a vast majority of people wanting more from their packaging—a big opportunity for brands.

Overall, 41% of consumers around the world say packaging is very important to their overall product satisfaction, and that number jumps above 60% in places such as India, Brazil and Turkey.

Packaging continues to play an important role in building brand loyalty and driving repeat purchase in-store. Increasingly, it is also a vehicle that connects brands and consumers online.

Tesco customers, for example, placed more than 3m online grocery orders over Christmas—a third of them with a mobile device. With services like this and Amazon Fresh growing like they are, this trend will only become more important for food brands.

How can the information you’re presenting in Packaging Matters help CPGs make their product packaging better?

The data from our second annual Packaging Matters study shows a strong link between packaging and consumer behavior, uncovering a big opportunity for brand owners to convert that into increased loyalty and repeat purchase behavior. While the “first moment of truth” at the shelf is still important, brands are “overindexed” for satisfaction there.

While we are still committed to the responsibilities of packaging in that moment, our data shows packaging attributes related to appearance, such as being attractive or easy to find, are overachieving based on their perceived importance to consumers.

Functional attributes, such as protecting the product from spilling and making the product easy to get out, are considered more important packaging attributes to consumers across all product categories. However, the same attributes are underperforming in the eyes of consumers.

We believe this research will become a foundation for our innovation process over the next number of years, and hope brand owners will look to it as a resource for how to improve their packaging to better appeal to consumers.

You’ve done this study for two years now—are there any areas in which you’ve noticed marked change (either improvement, or decline) in consumer attitudes?

We didn’t expect major swings from year to year, but we would like to use this study to track trends going forward. This time we took the opportunity to improve our methodology based on what we learned in our inaugural year. As a result, not all of the questions were repeated, or repeated in the same way – so not everything can be compared year-over-year.

Are there any surprises in the PM findings?

Brand owners might be surprised that 22% of consumers have written an online review because of the packaging—and at how influential those reviews can be for other consumers’ trial purchases.

I also think the data around the impact of packaging on global consumer behavior is very interesting. Packaging is more than twice as important to overall product satisfaction for consumers in developing packaging markets compared to those in developed packaging markets.

Are there any areas you delved into in this year’s study that you hadn’t explored last year?

Last year’s study uncovered some compelling insights around the relationship between packaging satisfaction and consumer preference. This year’s study dives into it even further, making stronger linkages, exploring packaging satisfaction globally, and developing best practices around the emerging frontier of e-commerce and CPGs.

Many global companies are looking to developing markets as a key source for growth over the next few years. The opportunities for brand owners to leverage packaging to better reach consumers in these countries are really exciting: our data show packaging is more than twice as important to overall product satisfaction and has a greater impact on purchasing behavior—online and offline.

In terms of e-commerce, this year alone, North American BtoC e-commerce sales are expected to reach $482.6bn. Packaging has a significant impact on consumer behavior online.

Because of packaging, 29% of consumers have researched more information about a product, 20% have friended or become a “fan” of a company on social networks and 22% have written an online review that mentions the packaging.  We see a strong connection between in-home usage experience with functional aspects of packaging, online amplification of that experience and purchasing behavior, not only for that consumer, but many, many others.

The archived Packaging Matters web presentation, along with a copy of the full report and additional information about the study, can be accessed here​.

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