Durability and desirability: the two pillars of packaging in the food industry

The pandemic has had a lasting impact on our way of consuming towards more sustainability. More and more brands have integrated this new criterion of choice in their products. In the food industry, packaging is the key support of marketing arguments. This is what Delphine Parois, an expert at Strategir, explains to us in this article.

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The new criteria for consumer choice in food

A global study conducted by Ernst & Young on the evolution of consumer expectations shows that consumers are now focusing on very personal criteria when making purchases: price first, then health. The planet and society are present, but come far behind. However, until a few years ago, they were not even considered as criteria of choice.

This leads marketing actors to re-evaluate the coherence of brands and products with the new expectations of consumers and to rethink marketing levers.

Food brands commit to sustainability

More and more brands have perceived these transformations and have committed themselves to a sustainable approach

Les piliers de la durabilité dans le secteur alimentaire

The pillars of sustainability in the food sector
Let us recall here the three key pillars of sustainability:

  • Human health
  • Respect for the environment
  • Ethics

This commitment is clearly visible on the brands’ institutional websites with strong promises. The trend is clearly towards producing food products that are better for health and the planet.

Food brands must prove their real commitment

However, consumers are not fooled anymore. They have been fed with TV shows, such as “Cash investigation”, “Envoyé spécial” and others, 60 millions de consommateurs. Today, there is a lot of mistrust towards brands and their discourse. They must be more transparent and honest with their customers. They must provide tangible proof of their commitment.

Packaging: a vehicle for communicating the brand’s commitments

In this context, packaging is an essential communication vector. It is often the first point of contact with the consumer. It is through this medium that the brand can:

● Pass on its messages
● Meet expectations in terms of sustainability

The brand must convince in a credible, authentic and honest way, while playing on desirability, which remains the basis of product attractiveness. All this will be done through the discourse via claims (promises) and mentions, certifications and, of course, the design of the packaging.

The brand’s mission must be clearly visible and the proof of commitment credible. The packaging must highlight its social and environmental responsibility.

The product must remain desirable

Nevertheless, sustainability must not overshadow the desirability of the product. Conveyed by the storytelling around sensoriality, quality, authenticity and practicality, it remains an essential purchase criterion.

In packaging communication, this means:
● Reassuring consumers that the product has the expected qualities versus the advertised benefits or promises,
● Telling a story that makes sense and is honest, transparent and consistent,
● Reassure consumers about the sustainability of the product, brand and packaging,
● Provide a unique and differentiating sensory experience,
● Ensure practicality of use in order to sustain re-purchase.