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How To Create Food Packaging That Can Build Brand Loyalty

Phil Bagdasarian packaging column

by Phil Bagdasarian

Co-founder, Packwire

Customer loyalty is essential to boosting a business’ bottom line. In fact, an average of 80 percent of future revenue is generated by a 20 percent returning customer base. Attracting new customers is important but keeping them is far more valuable. As such, it is crucial that companies invest in the implementation of brand loyalty strategies that will help retain existing clients. To achieve this, several methods can be used, with many of them focusing on offering top notch customer satisfaction based on quality, value and the anticipation of future needs. However, one particularly effective strategy often gets overlooked: packaging.

In the competitive retail food market, this approach can be of great benefit, helping a business communicate brand awareness through high impact content and visuals that deliver a memorable customer experience that drives loyalty.   

There are many ways to boost customer loyalty through packaging, but the following are some of the most effective:

Keep it simple: A simple packaging design can convey key messages and vital information without overwhelming consumers. Using a large, legible font will immediately attract attention, helping to form a connection and encourage motivation by communicating product details in a brief but powerful way. It all comes down to science. Eye tracking studies have shown “that consumers read on average only seven words in an entire shopping trip, buying instinctively by color, shape and familiarity of location.” Suffice to say that developing minimalistic packaging makes a product easy to identify on busy supermarket shelves.

Be unique: To stand out, brands must create an experience that builds a connection with customers. To achieve this, engagement should be centered around the brand itself, conveying a unique story that tugs at the heart and soul. Compelling narratives strike a resonant chord with consumers, helping to develop a high level of engagement and loyalty, which contributes to branding success.

When companies humanize their brands, they help establish trust with the target audience. Brand stories can be based on several factors, but most often, they are inspired by a founder’s personality. Linking business with emotion is a tried-and-tested communication method that helps connect customers to a business, so it is especially important to weave a brand’s personal story into its packaging. With inspiring content and images, brand packaging can make a lasting impression.

Be socially responsible: Modern consumers want to support brands that are socially and environmental responsible. When it comes to spending, consumers want to know that their hard-earned money is going to contribute to positive change. In fact, the Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility showed that “52 percent of global respondents in Nielsen’s survey say their purchase decisions are partly dependent on the packaging—they check the labeling first before buying to ensure the brand is committed to positive social and environmental impact.”

Issues such as food and superfluous packaging waste have attracted global attention, resulting in a greater demand for accountability. The food industry is particularly subject to this scrutiny, so it’s essential for companies to adopt sustainable and reusable packaging options that reflect consumer values. Sustainable trends have a significant place in today’s society, with many consumers choosing brands based on a company’s ability to meet the demands. Packaging that is both sustainable and reusable increases the potential for consumers to choose one brand over the other, in turn fostering loyalty.

Honest and transparent: Millennials are shown to favor brands that convey honesty and transparency. This can be accomplished by sharing product information such as ingredients, sourcing and nutritional information. If packaging space is limited, a simple link can direct consumers to a detailed website or product page.

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) found that shoppers exhibit loyalty to products that are honest, since “75 percent are more likely to switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what’s provided on the physical label.” With carefully written content that is straightforward, meaningful and brief, a brand message can cut through the noise to reflect the kind of honesty and authenticity shoppers desire. And in the food industry, transparency isn’t just limited to content. Current trends show that customers want to see their food before they buy it, so adding clear windows to packaging is a valuable strategy that further solidifies loyalty. 

A rewarding experience: Adding extra rewards such as personalized promos, real-time offers and digital offerings will encourage consumers to stay engaged. Many companies are now actively involved in creating online brand communities that revolve around rewards programs. Offering bonus rewards to customers who register an online account is also a valuable strategy that can allow companies to gather vital marketing information for future campaigns. Furthermore, rewarding members for purchases, reviews or social sharing helps build positive user-generated content and word of mouth buzz that can generate a powerful wave of referrals. Since individuals often trust customer recommendations more than brand’s message, this method is worth considering.

Phil Bagdasarian is the co-founder of Packwire, an online printing and packaging service that enables businesses to create their own box design, including branded mailers, folding cartons, shipping boxes and gift boxes.

About the author

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Treva Bennett

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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