“Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem. Most things are judged by their jackets.” – Baltasar Gracian
The Spanish philosopher in the early 17th century has envisioned one of the greatest truths of mankind. Generations passed by, species have evolved and behavior has changed but the underlying fact remains the same - ‘If it looks good, it is good’. The same applies to people when it comes to buying behavior especially in the low involvement category FMCG products.
In the early years of this century one of the leading health beverage companies faced a problem. The retailers were refusing to keep its SKUs on their shelves. If we remember, the bottles of health drinks were made of glass during that era. The reason stated by the retailers which was also confirmed by the distributors was that the print on the bottle was scuffed of in the transportation process which made the product look unaesthetic and off-shelf. At times it so happened that the name and essential information on the label was rendered unreadable. The company cannot let go its sales due to such trivial reason. A research team was appointed to find out the root cause of the problem. After a hefty investment in the process it was found out that the metal Lead (Pb) used in the color to print the label was out of proportion due to which the color was coming off with the slightest of physical contact. Rectifications were done to keep the product on the shelves and sales on target.
The instance is just an example to show how important packaging is when it comes to FMCG products. To understand more of it let’s see what FMCG has as a sector in itself. The following diagram shows a telescopic view of the vast FMCG sector.
Depending on the product category, the packaging requirements vary with respect to operations point of view. The level of protection for a food product would definitely be higher than that of a home care product. Few common protections which ought to be taken for a food and beverage product are:
- - Preserving the hygroscopic nature of the product
- - Giving protection against exposure to sun
- - Protection against loss of nutritional value e.g.
- -- Protection against denaturing of proteins
- -- Protection against oxidation of fat
- - Protection against any deformation of shape
- - Along with all the above mentioned deliverables, maintaining the aesthetic value of the product
The transportation phase in a supply chain process can be pretty long and the way commodities are handled at various junctures enhances the importance of good packaging. Customers always admire the best, handy and easy to use packaging for FMCG products. But from a company point of view it may be always possible to give what is best as the cost in the process also needs to be adhered. A brand always tries to meet the basic requirements or purpose of packaging. The diagram below streamlines the same:
~ Preserve the nutritional value
Food and beverage contribute a major chunk to the FMCG basket. The importance of the intended nutritional value being delivered to the consumers can act as a deciding role in a brand’s success. Special care and innovative packaging will serve the purpose.
~ Protect the form and shape
We won’t accept a detergent bar if it is deformed, nor will we buy a deodorant if it has a dent on its tin body. Every year lots of orders are taken back due to some defect or deformation in the shape, size and form of the product. The packaging should be sturdy enough to absorb the shocks and jerks which occur during logistics.
~ Add to the aesthetic value
The very 1st interaction between a consumer and a product is mediated by packaging for the product. If the packaging is not welcomed by our sense organ then it becomes a dissatisfier in consumers’ minds. These small cues can easily be registered in the subconscious mind and effect the purchase behavior for low-involvement FMCG products. If the aesthetic value of a product is appealing then the retailers also feel confident to put the product at noticeable positions.
~ Transform a product into a brand
In a huge shelf of assorted products, packaging gives a brand identity to a product. It represents a brand and flaunts the attributes and benefits of the brand. It also enables in providing crucial information to consumers and tells them how the product is going to add value to their life. CavinKare revolutionized the market and established its brand name by introducing the Chik shampoo in sachets.
~ Reusability, recyclability and surplus value
For some products the packaging is discarded almost immediately like soaps, but for some the packaging stays till the end e.g. ketchup. If we buy a Dabur Glucose 500 gram pack, the packaging is useful not only till the end of the product but can also be used to store other kitchen items after the product gets over. Thus, it adds to the surplus value for the customer. For discarded packets, the packaging should be environmental friendly and easily disposable.
The main challenge lies not in providing a good packaging and impressing consumers but in managing the cost involved in making the packaging evenly acceptable to all the stakeholders in the supply chain. Important considerations like weight, cost and availability of packaging material also play a key role. The cost of package should not be high enough in comparison with the cost of product as it will ultimately mark up the price for the end users.
Innovations and breakthroughs are always appreciated in packaging. To point a few latest ones: aroma lock Bru coffee containers, Kissan jam tubes (go spoon less), Haldiram’s ready-to-eat and Act-II popcorn microwave pack.
- Strategic Brand Management, 4th Edition – Pearson Publication