We are starting to see more innovations in packaging across businesses and categories, and some of these are "game changing" packaging innovations. Campbell's Soup at Hand, yogurt in tubes and Dutch Boy Paint represent hundreds of millions in new sales and packaging was critical to their success. These changes are delivering improved consumer benefits (both real and perceived). These successes are the result of consumer understanding and tie back to the importance of packaging. Top consumer benefits where packaging can make a difference include: Taste/performance; convenience; nutrition; value/variety; and fun/interactivity.
Now on to ice cream packaging. What was the last big "game changing" innovation in ice cream packaging? We have had a number of incremental packaging innovations including, pearlized polypropylene novelty wrappers, inline convolute wound rounded rectangular or scround (square round two-piece containers) packaging to improve costs. Ben and Jerry's provided a natural kraft board to connote natural, which was a very good integrated solution at the time. But where are the big innovations? As I looked through the dairy cases there just is not much out there. The rounded-rectangular was introduced by Kraft under the Breyer's name in the late 1980s. And now, the conundrum:
Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies are challenging suppliers to bring more to the table on innovation while they are squeezing them for productivity and cost reduction at the same time.
"As the market continues to change and consolidate, and consumers focus more on convenience and product safety, Huhtamaki is taking a progressive approach toward building the right package to meet these needs," says Tom James, director, marketing and new product development, Consumer Goods Packaging at Huhtamaki, a packaging supplier for the frozen dessert industry. "Global technology and material innovations combined with producer and retailer expectations and consumer research are integral elements that Huhtamaki is bringing to the next generation of frozen dessert packaging and packaging systems."
"Game changing" solutions require an integrated understanding of consumer, retailer, technology and value propositions. Dairy continues to struggle between commodity and value added. As a result, companies put most of the focus on product development and stick it in the same package to keep costs inline.
So how do we get out of the conundrum? We start by understanding the consumer and their issues, the retailer and their issues, CPG's and suppliers and what knowledge they have. If we start with this and put together a simple checklist, you can begin to identify new insights and opportunities that just might get you to the next "game changing" innovation for ice cream/ frozen dessert packaging.
Ice Cream Packaging ChecklistDoes the product say something about taste or freshness? Windows in packages, foil and high-end graphics can help communicate these important consumer wants.
Does the product say convenient?
- Easy open/Reclose
- Not messy
- Portable/on the go
- Multipacks like yogurt say convenience, portable and fun
What are the nutritional opportunities? Is there an opportunity to provide calorie control portions? One hundred calorie packs, 100 calorie bars, etc. can make strong contributions.
How can packaging make the product better?
- Insulated packaging
- Natural-Brown kraft, Polylactic Acid biopolymers
- Ineractive packaging-thermochromic inks, texture, odor
- Portable-spoon in lid
- Trading up provides a better margin where packaging connotes premium-foil, shape, multipack
- Reusable packaging, then just fill later
- Appliance opportunities, i.e. coffee pods, mini beer kegs and smoothies
Review the checklist to uncover new opportunities. Even if they are not game changing, they will offer new revenue opportunities to your business.