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Packaging Materials and Consumer Preferences

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Published: Mon, 12 Feb 2018

Introduction:

The term business is defined as an organized way to earn profit. Profit is basic motif that coerces any business individual or organization to produce something that is really needed. This basic motif compels producers to take necessary steps to improve not only the product qualities but also the appearance. Producers manage to interlink demands and supplies and help their consumers to get maximum satisfaction in limited resources by offering them many well-suited goods.

As there is always scarcity of sources and abundance of wants; to generate symmetry between wants and supplies a wide range of similar and nearly alternative products are offered with varieties of price, packing style, brand name etc. by various companies, which provides customers multiplicity of choices. Since, in perfect competition every individual or firm has rights to enter the market (or leave the market) at any time and produce and sell goods according to their own will, every producer tries his level best to captivate consumers’ attention by emphasizing qualities of his products among many almost similar products, hence it becomes essential to use multiplicity of packaging style, size and color of likely products, so that specific brands may be distinguished among others.

The intentions of Consumer for procuring anything depends upon the intensity of his desires to satisy his needs. Consumers have expectations that anything he is buying will satisfy his needs. (Kupiec and Revell, 2001) The basic purpose is to fulfill consumer’s needs instead of product name, consequently consumer makes buying decision at the moment they encounter different objects rather making prior decisions. Consumer’s purchase decision depends the way he is communicated for anything at store. The packaging becomes a major cause of his decision to buy anything because it is the first introduction of the product, which communicates the consumer that whether a product may (or may not) fulfill his requirements. The product which appears more suitable to a customer a nearest match for his needs is bought, whereas others are left. The key factor to convince a customer is to know his needs and to make him understand that a particular thing is a perfect match of his requirements.

As due to change of consumers’ life style consumers are interested in packaging tool, So packaging performs an important role in marketing communications, Packaging characteristics could be treated as one of the most important factors influencing consumers’ brand preference. Taking into consideration that package could be treated as a set of various elements communicating different messages to a consumer, the role of appropriate packaging material to form customers’ behavior becomes inevitable.

Customers’ taste and behavior also participates significant functions in choosing specific packaging style, hence to know market trend and behavior of consumers, companies conduct market surveys, prior launching any new product, so that they may understand perceptions of consumers regarding specific products and on the basis of customers’ behavior, figure out the possibility of product success.

Marketing Experts believe that Success is traditionally associated with the choice of an appropriate product positioning strategy, so the first step must be to correctly define a positioning strategy. Positioning strategy means to find out physical appearance of any product prior launching it to the market. It has also been observed that sometimes quite beneficial products could not get proper attentions of the consumers because of wrong market positioning strategy or weak planning.

(Ramsay, 1983; McAlexander et al., 1993)

As a matter of fact if a product (or products) is more demanding and consequently gives lots of profit, every business individual or firm will tend to produce same for having their share of profit in that specific field. This is how there are numerous producers or manufacturers producing analogous products with the difference of brand name, packing style, shape and size because a ditto copy will never makes consumers to switch form their existing brand to a new one. Consumers normally do not switch from one product to another without having sound reasons. These reasons are nothing else but to make them realize that the new product is same but has some different tendencies as well, for instance despite having many chocolate manufacturing companies, every new manufacturer will not be welcomed to influence consumers, unless they manage to prove that their product is better than existing products.

Every company tends to prove that their product is somehow poles apart to their competitors and can fulfill the needs of their consumers in better way but in reasonable price. Packaging is the first step to make consumers buy something and plays crucial role to either make a product sellable or to prove it a complete failure, as it is believed that

“Selling something apparently attractive, though having low benefits is easier than something that has more benefits and lesser attractive.”

or in other words

“Most of the books are judged and bought by their covers, instead of their contents.”

While purchasing anything from the market every 73 out of 100 people go for apparently good things rather than brand and only 27 percent people strictly stuck for brand. In normal days we do not eat any food, if it does not look or smell great, though we know foods are to be tasted and not to be decorated. Commonly people go for the best looking items instead of technicalities; this is why most of the people buy extraordinary and expensive mobile phones not because of advanced functions but because they look great and by and large they rarely become familiar of all functions.

As the world is rapidly turning into global village and with the passage of time business is being expanded, the importance of using correct type of packaging material has become essential. Packaging is rightly called an art because packaging material is the first introduction of any product to the consumers, as well as it provides a physical blockade between a product and the surroundings by maintaining hygiene and reducing the risk of product wastage due to impurity. Packaging is indispensable for a safe distribution, storage, sale, and use.

Packaging also refers to the process of design, evaluation, and production of packages. It can be described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for safe, efficient and cost-effective transport, distribution, storage, retailing, consumption and recovery, reuse or disposal combined with maximizing consumer value, sales and hence profit. Verily packaging is a central part of the goods supply chain, which protects goods from damage, allows efficient distribution, informs the consumer regarding products and helps to promote goods in a competitive marketplace.

Packaging Material, especially for edible goods, are used as a tool to prolong products life. Unlike old days, when a huge part of edible goods used to be wasted because of insufficient packaging materials, now days edible goods in bulk quantities are manufactured and stored for a long time, which leads to maintain timely supply as well as reduces products cost.

In general terms, packaging is the container that has direct or indirect contact with product, it holds, protects, preserves and identifies the product as well as facilitating handling and commercialization (Vidales Giovannetti, 1995)

Packaging is a tool to form good relationship between Retailers and Food Manufacturers because both work more closely to create products designed for current lifestyles, based on the latest technology. A Retailer, having direct link with end users, can easily be well aware of the perception of consumers. On the other hand manufacturers modify packaging style and product quality on the basis of information provided by retailers. This has resulted in an explosion in the market for ready to eat meals, a market in which packaging is playing an increasingly important role.

In a very broad sense, the food industry is discovering the food service channel as a new distribution alternative. Alliances between food producers and food service operators will be the only means to develop successful solutions.

(Axler, marketing director of Sodexho, Belgium)

Packaging is also a source to provide information about ingredients to the customers and instructions to use the product, for which there are some legal requirements. Consumers make final choice on the basis of these information for instance there are some products inappropriate for diabetics patients because of having high calories, hence instructions on packaging can save diabetic patients, on contrary there are some ingredients which are prohibited for some specific religion (as pork is banned in Islamic & Jews preaching) hence through instructions and ingredient list, Muslims and Jews can avoid such forbidden foods.

Similarly on medicines dosage is mentioned for children and adults. There are some food related items, especially dairy items, which cannot be kept in sunlight, whereas there are some other items, which must be kept in open and airy places to make them fresh or to store in cold. Manufacturing and Expiry is also mentioned on food products, so that one may know that an edible item is best to use before a certain period of time to avoid any hazard or health problem. On master cartons and containers stack height is also mentioned to avoid product loss, whereas handle with care caution is mentioned on easily breakable items.

Packaging is the most important medium of communication because it reaches almost all buyers in the category and is present at the crucial moment when procurement decision is made; and buyers are actively involved with packaging as they examine it to obtain the information they need. (Behaeghel 1991 and Peters 1994)

Packaging is becoming an essential part of the value chain analysis, regarding food safety, organoleptic characteristics, ergonomics and flexibility,”

(Axler, marketing director of Sodexho, Belgium)

Packaging is a mean of communication.

(Gardener 1967, Lincoln 1965)

Packaging is the science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of design, evaluation, and production of packages. Packaging can be described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for transport, warehousing, logistics, sale, and end use. Packaging contains, protects, preserves, transports, informs, and sells. In many countries it is fully integrated into government, business, industrial, and personal use.

Packaging attributes, combining colors, designs, shape, symbols, and messages of Food products, provide people brand acquaintance for example in a departmental store all kinds of beverages are kept in same place but consumer of specific brand can easily distinguish his choice because of difference of color, size and unambiguous shape. (Nancarrow et al., 1998)

Numerous market trends suggests a growing packaging role as a brand communication vehicle and reducing expenses on traditional brand building mass media advertising. Importance of Packaging role is acknowledged round the globe for brand building and consequently the expenses on advertisement has been found reduced. Once a brand becomes familiar companies do not have to spend a huge amount on advertising because consumer will reach the brand automatically. Companies just have to manage timely deliveries, so that meanwhile a consumer may not switch to the nearest competitors due to unavailability of the product. (Belch and Belch, 2001)

Packaging attracts and sustains attention, helping consumers identify with the images presented. The importance of packaging design and the use of packaging, as a vehicle for communication and branding, are growing (Rettie and Brewer, 2000) One recent study estimated that 73 percent of purchase decisions are made at the point of sale, it means that a majority of consumers switch to one brand to its nearly alternative while purchasing, for example a housewife wants to have a jar of jam of a specific brand, if she does not find it in superstore, she might buy any similar brand in absence of her desired brand, this may cause her to believe that the new brand is somehow comparatively better than the previous one, hence next time she will visit to the store, she will surely go for the new brand instead of previous one. (Connolly and Davidson, 1996)

Packaging materials are used to communicate the messages of specific companies. Most of the branded companies have their particular brand slogans, which influences consumers towards their products. To achieve the communication goals effectively and to optimize the potential of packaging, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers must comprehend consumer response to their packages, and incorporate the perceptual processes of the consumer into design. It is also observed that companies that sometimes failure of a product is not because of lack in product qualities but lack of presentations. (Nancarrow et al., 1998)

Almost all FMCG spend extra amount to figure out Consumers’ perception and behavior, which is believed is not consistent across cultures. Although many industry observers believe that consumers worldwide are likely to have roughly similar response to many FMCG, despite cultural differences (The Nation, Bangkok, 2002) yet there are many cross-cultural researchers who believe vice versa, and assert that knowledge developed in one culture should be confirmed before use in new cultural contexts (e.g., Malhotra et al., 1996) The expansion of modern retailing helps drive this growth, so that packaging plays an increasingly critical role in merchandising and communication for FMCG (The Nation, Bangkok, 2002)

Viewing pollution problem of the world, it becomes essential to take necessary steps to reduce waste and garbage. The role of packaging in waste reduction is the most evident at food packaging. When food is processed and packaged, the food residues are often used as fuel, animal feed or some economically useful by-product. In absence of packaged processed food, the residues become garbage in the household.

Another reason why food packaging reduces waste is that it reduces spoilage. In developing countries food wastage is between 20-50% because of poor or the lack of packaging. In Europe, where packaging is used in handling, transport, containment and storage, food wastage is approximately 2-3%. (PIN, 1996) With increasing rates of appropriate packaging materials, the fraction of food wastes decreases. A survey conducted in this regards declare that Overall, for every 1% increase of packaging, food waste decreases by about 1.6%. (Scarlett, 1996)

Purpose of Packaging Materials:

1.        Physical Fortification

The objects enclosed in the package may require shield from many things like shock, shuddering, compression, high temperature, etc. Appropriate Packaging Material accumulates objects from all these hazards.

A good packaging material reduces the probability of product loss and wastage. Food products like as other products are to move from one place to another for instance first from factories to warehouses then from warehouses to depot and later on from depots to distributors and then from distributors to retailers and then to the end users. Proper handling needs either to depute huge manpower to avoid such losses (which will surely increase product cost, though product loss will not be prevented completely) or to use good packaging materials; naturally usage of proper packaging material is more feasible, though manpower is also used wherever needed.

2.        Protection

Food products can be kept safe for a long time, unless Oxygen, water vapor, dust, etc. may not affect them. Infiltration is a critical factor in designing packaging materials. Some packages contain desiccants or Oxygen absorbers to help extend shelf life, whereas usage of metallic sheet or poly film is quite normal in packaging of food related items to prevent oxygen. Modified atmospheres or controlled atmospheres are also maintained in some food packages. Keeping the contents clean, fresh, disinfected and safe for the intended shelf life is a primary function of packaging materials.

3.        Repression

Handling small objects separately is difficult than keeping them in one packet or box, hence diminutive objects are usually grouped together in one package instead of keeping them in different packages, for example, a single box of 1000 erasers requires less physical handling than 1000 single rubbers. Liquids, powders, and grainy materials need containment.

4.        Communication

Packages are properly labeled to provide information related to usage of product that how to use, transport, reprocess, or dispose of the package or product. Food, medical, chemical and pharmaceutical products are labeled proper manufacturing and expiry dates as well as suitable way of handling for example on some packages “keep in cold and dry place” is written because moisture and heat can cause hazardous change in the product, on some cartons stacking size has also mentioned to avoid any damage.

5.        Marketing

The packaging and labels are used to influence consumers to buy something. Package graphic design and physical design are chosen after thorough survey and deep study of consumers’ taste and behavior. It has also been observed that products which were proved a complete failure became much popular, just after changing the design of packages. The color schemes, designs, packaging style and size are rightly called tools to sell anything.

6.        Safety Measures

Packaging plays imperative role in reducing safety risks of shipment. Prior packaging, need of safety measures are studied thoroughly. Good Packaging Material is the one that comprises tamper confrontation to deter tampering and also have tamper-evident features to help indicate tampering. Packages can be engineered to help reduce the risks of package pilferage: Some package constructions are more resistant to pilferage and some have pilfered indicating seals. Packages may include validation seals and use security printing to help indicate that the package and contents are not imitation. Packages also can include anti-theft devices, such as dye-packs, RFID tags, or electronic article observation tags that can be activated or detected by devices at exit points and require specialized tools to deactivate. Using packaging in this way is a means of loss deterrence.

7.        Convenience

Packages are designed to keep viewing convenience in distribution, handling, stacking, display, sale, opening, re-closing, use, dispensing, and reuse, for example a tin of cooking oil is not used only once, it is to be used time and again, hence there must be convenience in use as well as in reuse. On contrary a can of disposable beverage is not designed for reusing purpose and once the seal is opened, it is to be used in a limited time; else it will end its properties.

Many housewives are observed not using specific products because of inconvenience in use, despite knowing their low price or other benefits.

8.        Portion Control

Specific quantities or proper dosage of some products, e.g. salt, are required to be used. Bulk commodities (such as salt) can be divided into packages that are a more suitable size for individual households. It is also aids the control of inventory for example selling sealed one-liter-bottles of milk, rather than having people bringing their own bottles to fill themselves.

Types of Packaging Materials

The most widespread types of packaging material are paper, glass, aluminum, fiber board, plastic and steel.

Paper:

Paper is one of the most extensively used packaging materials, because of being light in weight, cheap in price and easily available. The use of corrugated cardboard, instead of wooden boxes, has reduced weight of packaging materials on one hand and made safe and easy transportation on the other hand.

Glass:

The use of Glass, as Packaging Material has almost been given up, especially for food items e.g. for beverages because any slight jerk or shock causes it to break into pieces, which is not only material loss but also is harmful for human health; usage of glass has been replaced with Tin and Plastic. Glass is the most common form of packaging waste, although it has been returned to the factories now days for recycling, yet because of its insecure nature, it is being avoided as packaging material.

Aluminum:

It iscommonly used inpackaging of food items,such asin cans of soft drinks and in tin packed provisions as foil to protect foodstuff from decomposition by preventing access of oxygen. The used aluminum as scrap is sold on high price because aluminum is recycled economically because 20 recycled aluminum cans, can be made with the energy it takes to manufacture one brand new one.

Steel:

Currently Steel is being used as packaging material for foods, beverages and paints as well as aerosols. Steel is recycled in great extent to minimize product cost. A survey declares that around 16% of energy saving is observed steel because of recycling of steel.

Plastic:

The use of plastic as packaging material brings so many advantages for instance plastic is light weighted, long lasting and easily available material. The cost of plastic is a bit cheaper as compare to aluminum and steel.

Mixed materials:

Instead of using a single material for packaging, the trend to use mixed materials is proven more beneficial in form of reducing energy consumption although combining different materials makes reprocessing difficult. Lack of facilities and necessary technologies to separate mixed materials have become great obstacle to recycle because without separating these materials contamination cannot be avoided.

Importance of Packaging & Branding in Marketing

Packaging and Branding are two sides of same coin and are essential for marketing. ‘Branding’ means to represent not only the name, description and design of a product but also to distinguish a company from its competitors’. Most of the brand conscious people believe that a specific brand actually represents the history and credibility of not only the brand but also the manufacturers, because using specific brand means trusting particular companies instead of their professional rivals. No brand can be popular without proper packaging hence it is rightly called that Packing is a marketing instrument, which attracts consumers and forms their trust on companies. People form their good or bad opinions about inside products through the outer look e.g. the colors, fonts, descriptions and logo. It is also experienced that a product, once proven failure, hit the consumer’s choice later on when the look was improved.

Sales

Marketing Department focuses to strategize methods to sell company’s products in presence of competitors. Packaging and Branding is actually twofold picture. It is said that people do not buy anything unless it looks great. Brand department conducts market surveys to discover new ways to influence more consumers than their competitors, so that more part of market may be captivated. New advertising techniques are discovered and adopted with the passage of time.

Brand campaigns are run in the most exclusive manners to form a cohesive brand or image. Brand department keeps an eye on market trends and in case the sale of concern product decreases, new and attractive ways are adopted to re-stable market position, sometimes change in color, size or packaging style revive a falling product. That is why many products are relabeled after a certain period of time by adding “new” in product name. Customers do not recognize the product but through the brands. It has also been experienced that when a group of consumers were offered to taste same products of different companies, including their own brand, without mentioning of products identities, only a few consumers chose their own brand, whereas majority either could not figure out any difference or chose products other than their brands.

Branding

Product appearance plays vital role in creation of brand. The product quality has secondary importance because once a consumer is influenced to use a product first time, the product quality can be known. On a survey conducted to find out consumer’s market perception, while answering “why a product is purchased?” most of the answers were “because it is apparently good.”

Brand is not only product introduction but also forms market image of company, for example soft drinks manufacturers are producing almost similar products but their consumers recognize their products through presentation style, color scheme and packaging uniqueness. Some experts believe that advertising, which provides information about objective attributes such as price and physical traits will influence brand associations. Advertising can make positive brand evaluations and attitudes readily accessible in memory Advertising also influences behavioral manifestations of brand equity. On average, market leaders spend 20 percent more of their budgets on advertising than do their nearest competitors.

There are different parameters or factors that force a customer to switch one brand to another. This individual varied behavior leads to study taxonomy of explanations for varied behavior. Experts of branding distribute these varied behaviors into “Derived” and “Direct” variation. “Derived varied behavior” refers to varied behavior that results from “forces that have nothing to do with a preference for change in and of itself” These forces are divided into “multiple needs” and “changes in the choice problem.” Multiple needs include multiple users, contexts and uses.

There are empirical evidences indicating that varied consumption of the household may result from different usage purposes of the product as well as different users within the household. Changes in the choice problem are changes in the feasible set of alternatives, tastes and constraints (new brands, advertising, deals, etc.)

“Direct variation” explanations of varied behavior rely on the “inherently satisfying aspects of changing behavior” Interpersonal and intrapersonal motives are involved in direct variation. Interpersonal motives result from the needs for affiliation and distinction. Intrapersonal motives result from three main forces.

First is the desire for the unfamiliar cite empirical evidence on successful attempts to get stable and reliable measures of different aspects of this desire that is related to an ideal level of stimulation desired by the individual.

Second is the desire for information, to measure optimum stimulation levels. Consumers want information on familiar brands. This need for information arises when continued consumption of a particular brand creates confusion with regard to the worth of other brands.

The third type of “direct variation” that satisfies intrapersonal needs is alternation among the familiar. The studies in the areas of psychology of consumer behavior show that levels of stimulation can be raised by switching among familiar as well as unfamiliar brands. There is empirical evidence on the existence of ideal levels of attributes wanted by consumers in their consumption. This fact may result in switching among familiar brands that are rich in different attributes.

The present study interprets varied consumption as a result of variety seeking behavior, which is operational as a measure of individual tendency to vary consumption. This tendency is measured on a continuum that extends from extreme tendency to vary consumption to an extreme tendency to avoid variety.

It is possible to identify five major factors which influence the proportion of total product sales made by each brand of a product class displayed in a supermarket: (1) relative brand prices, (2) the proportion of display space allocated to each brand, (3) the quality of display space, (4) point-of-sale advertising and promotion, and (5) consumer brand attitudes and preferences. The first four of these factors are direct dimensions of the purchase environment. The fifth is a residual of advertising and promotion, habits and experience, which is brought to the purchase environment by the consumer. A primary objective of this analysis is to isolate and quantify the fifth item, namely, brand preferences of consumers.

The procedure outlined in the model essentially involves controlling the other four aspects of the purchase environment and thereby isolating the effect of brand preferences. In many merchandising situations, however, the effects of brand preferences and relative brand prices work together in either a cumulative or a compensating way. For this reason, it may also be of interest to quantify the combined effects of consumer brand preferences and differences in brand prices. While this is possible with the model and is discussed later, the basic model is developed to fit conditions where brand prices are equal. With equal brand prices, equal display quality conditions, and no point- of-sale advertising or promotion, it is hypothesized that the sales of each brand would be proportional to the display space allocated to each if all buyers were indifferent concerning brand choice.

Slogans

A slogan is a short, unforgettable grasp phrase, which are used as punch line in advertisement to summarize the whole product quality and usage in one or a few words. The company and product information details are associated with tagline or motto of slogans. Companies often use one or a few words slogans to catch the attention of consumers. These slogans are somehow interlinked with the image of product quality because it becomes a key component and are used as essential factor to recognize products for example, “Relax, it’s FedEx” defines that a renowned American Courier Service is being discussed, similarly “I’m lovin’ it!” mentions McDonalds and “Finger-lickin’ good” denotes K.F.C (Kentucky Fried Chicken) “The Joy of Pepsi!” declares a beverage company, “Don’t leave home without it.” talks about American Express and “The Legend Leads” speaks out of Peek Freans. Many products are even known by their slogans instead of their own names.

Designs of Packaging

Suitable Packing is designed to captivate a customer’s attention. The moment a consumer throws a glance towards products, his decision for whether or not to buy a product is formed on the basis of product appearance. A child will always reject product having dull colors whereas an old man will surely avoid using bright colored objects. A well marketed product is wrapped packaging, which suits the flavor of users. Mercedes can never be found in shocking pink color because people who use it, have sober taste and prefer elegance, whereas sports cars are manufactured in bright colors because the dominant users are young.

Color effects human behavior such as some colors make us happy whereas others make us sad. While making purchase decision, colour scheme becomes more obvious. The effect of colour has been studied widely to know the consumer’s perception. (Imram, 1999) Consumer opinions of an adequate color are associated with discernments of other quality features, such as taste, aroma, satisfaction and nourishment levels. Positive effect can be gained by using one or more packaging variables. In some product clear packaging is sued to allow consumers to view food colour, incident light, and taxonomy. While making advertisement of food items, the best colour combination is used not only for plates having food items but also the clothes of models


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