Packaging. The gap between consumer importance and satisfaction represents opportunities for food marketers.

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The recently released 2015 Packaging Matters, an annual research study from MeadWestvaco Corp., reveals significant gaps between how important some packaging attributes are to consumers and how satisfied they are with the packaging of products they buy. Over 80% of the more than 5000 global respondents/consumers said they were only moderately satisfied with product packaging while only 10% said they were completely satisfied. For food and beverage marketers, these gaps represent opportunities for improvement, and growth in consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

The study included product packaging in 11 different product categories, 6 of which are food and beverage product categories. Specific packaging attributes, 21 total, were measured in terms of consumer importance and consumer satisfaction. The following list of the 21 attributes and the score/value for each reflect the relationship of consumer importance to consumer satisfaction. So a score or value of zero (0) would mean that the importance and satisfaction for that attribute were in absolute balance. Positive values/scores indicate that satisfaction exceeded importance and consumers felt that their expectations were exceeded.  Negative values/scores indicate that satisfaction for a given attribute did not meet consumer importance.  The larger the gap or negative value, the bigger the opportunity for marketers to improve their packaging in terms of that attribute. Here are the packaging attributes and their scores:

1. Intuitive to use:  -6

2. Easy to open: -14

3. Easy to extract all of the product out of packaging: -14

4. Easy to extract the right portion amount out of packaging: -16

5. Maintains product freshness: -20

6. Prevents spilling, leakage, or breakage: -24

7. Has new/innovative packaging features/functions:  +3

8. Allows convenient on-the-go use:  -7

9. Easy to use pump/sprayer function:  -17

10. Designed to fit consumer’s specific lifestyle: +2

11. Easy to re-close or reseal:  -21

12. Easy to carry or transport: -6

13. Provides useful product information: -14

14. Easy to find/spot product on retail shelf: +4

15. Attractive packaging appearance/shape: +11

16. New or unique appearance/shape: +8

17. Communicates brand’s core values and purpose: +2

18. Can be easily reused or re-purposed: -7

19. Can be easily recycled or composted: -15

20. Designed to keep consumer/user safe:  -15

21. Designed to keep product safe: -20

With 15 of the 21 attributes in the negative value/score zone, there are many opportunities for food and beverage marketers to gain a competitive edge through an evaluation of their product packaging and making improvements. The other take away from this study is the importance of product packaging in meeting or exceeding consumer expectations for the brand and product.

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