Monthly Archives: September 2012

Where’s one of the best places food marketers can advertise?

For years, food marketers have struggled with this question, particularly for those brands and products that are not owned by Fortune 500 companies with deep pocket ad budgets. The answer can be found on something all food products have in common: packaging.

It has been estimated that 40%, and maybe even as high as 70%, of consumers make purchase decisions at the shelf level. They may use a shopping list, but the list is more often category specific, but not brand specific. There are many reasons for this shopping behavior, price point perhaps one of the most obvious. However, the packaging design that jumps off the shelf most often wins, among products within a category.

Packaging as advertising levels the playing field among food category competitors because so many consumers make spontaneous, at-the-shelf purchase decisions, irrespective of how much brand advertising they may have been exposed to. The first order of business for food marketers is investing in creative, effective packaging design, but what are the fundamentals of creative, effective packaging design?

Differentiation: The appeal of food and beverage packaging in the highly competitive retail environment is visual, and packaging design must visually convey product attributes in a way that differentiates one brand or product over its competitors.

Visibility: In the visually cluttered retail grocery environment, packaging must be designed for maximum visibility. Placing branding on all display panels, drawing consumer attention through the effective use of color and images, and other graphic tools that create visual contrast are all strategies used for effective packaging design.

Functionality: Consumers want packaging that is easy to handle, resealable for easy use/reuse, and convenient to store at home.  Packaging design must not only fit the requirements of the product, it must fit the functionality requirements and expectations of consumers.

Shop-ability: Consumers compare brands in a matter of seconds in retail environments and effective packaging design enables consumers to quickly find product claims and attributes. Shop-ability in packaging design means that consumers are able to find key product claims where they expect them to be, and make the product comparisons that are inherent in consumer choice.

Messaging: Studies have shown that consumers typically spend five seconds looking at a package…barely enough time to register the branding, product serving suggestion photo, and the most important product attributes. Copy and messaging on effectively designed packaging is more akin to billboard advertising than other forms of advertising…a quick read with a single, clear message.

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The largest social media platform? Food marketers might be surprised by the answer.

Many food and beverage marketers have been struggling with how to effectively integrate social media into their marketing efforts. Where to focus: Facebook, YouTube, the new and very pinteresting Pinterest, and so many others to consider. Well, look no further than well established email. It is in fact the largest global digital social media platform.

According to, approximately 80% of all social interaction online is done via email.  A corresponding level of links and content are shared through the “social network” best understood and most used – email. What is particularly interesting is the fact that email is the primary source of content sharing of other forms of social media.

A recent report from Experian CheetahMail focused on marketers’ emails, indicates that emails which contain a reference to other social media are more likely to be opened and shared. Emails containing a subject line reference to Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter saw significant growth, upwards of 70%, in response rates for the sending brands. Pinterest mentions in emails are generating unique click rates that are close to 25% higher than emails without the mention.

Food and beverage brands will benefit most from a structure of social media that is supported with well designed and timed email campaigns. Since social media is consumer driven, brands can’t rely on them alone to create the “buzz” everyone in marketing is seeking. Social media may be dominating the discussions, but the growth in email is impressive: second quarter 2012 total increase in volume of 10% and open rates increase of 1.5% over the same quarter in 2011.

Food and beverage brands can better control their messages with an integrated digital approach to brand awareness. Email is the engine that drives deeper engagement through customized content and calculated frequency. ExactTarget 2012 Channel Preference Survey found that 77% of consumers prefer to receive promotional messages from marketers via email versus 5% who prefer text messages and only 4% who prefer Facebook.

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