The informed consumer and how they influence packaging design
Smart technologies are on everyone’s lips today – and we also like to talk about smart packaging. But what about the smart consumer, who is becoming increasingly important? What characterizes him and what influence does he have on the product and packaging industry? We’d like to take a closer look at that in this article.
From the easily inspired “persona” to the smart consumer
The days when a company could simply craft a prototypical persona and then launch a product tailored to it are over. It is still elementary to know your target group well, of course. But there is now one aspect that plays a central role across the board: The modern consumer thinks more comprehensively about what he buys and for what purpose. They actively inform themselves. They no longer fall for random advertising campaigns, no matter how clever they may be.
Yes, consumers have become smart. They reflect and get a clearer picture in advance of what they intend to buy. This development goes so far that consumers are often even willing to pay more money if they know they are doing something good for themselves and the environment. Price wars have never been a particularly good idea in terms of long-term success, but now they can’t even pick up many consumers in the short term.
This clear change from the not too demanding average consumer to a consciously thinking consumer is in line with the spirit of the times. Topics such as health, environmental protection and sustainability are omnipresent. And it has become trendy to no longer ignore such matters, even if they may have little or no impact on you at the moment, but to look and act appropriately.
Because it feels good to act right….
Everything in life revolves around emotions, even in the entrepreneurial sphere. If you want to be successful, you have to trigger positive feelings in consumers with your products and campaigns, and with your brand in general. This no longer involves just diffuse joy. The consumer wants to have a good feeling about buying a certain product.
You could also replace “feeling” with “conscience. To put it somewhat exaggeratedly: The average consumer has learned in recent years how good it feels to act right(er). In terms of buying behavior, this means above all: “What helps my health and is good for the environment is meaningful and valuable.” That’s how the modern consumer thinks. And it is imperative that brands take this into account in everything they offer.
Packaging design: quench the thirst for information and emotionalize it
Even though the new consumer is motivated to actively seek out information, he or she still values satisfying this need as simply and quickly as possible. Applied to shopping, this means that in the best case scenario, the packaging already provides more or less all the information that is important to him. The less he is forced to do additional research and thus to expend extra effort, the more motivated the consumer is to buy a product – provided it meets his requirements.
As already indicated, there are currently two main trends. One of these relates to the health aspect: natural ingredients and the avoidance of artificial substances and, increasingly, sugar are more popular than ever before. The second trend is sustainability. However, this does not only refer to the environment in the sense of nature conservation, but also includes other areas, such as living and working conditions in the countries of production, keyword fair trade.
Both trends give consumers that good feeling of doing the right thing. So depending on the target group, the company’s own products should address at least one of these topics. But that alone is not enough. The packaging must clearly show what the product stands for. It is crucial not to deny the individual brand identity, but to remain true to it, and to consistently avoid greenwashing.
In short, the packaging design should present the product as healthy and/or sustainable in an authentic way and, with expressive and emotionalizing visuals as well as precisely formulated content, provide consumers with the knowledge that will enable them to make a purchasing decision.
In this context, it makes sense to come back to smart technologies and smart packaging: In order to meet the needs of the new, information-hungry consumer, the packaging can also be smart, for example by providing the consumer with additional information about the product as extended packaging – for example, by using a QR code to link to websites that present sustainable projects that are supported by purchasing the product.
Without market research, the informed consumer remains inaccessible
To create a packaging design that actually conforms to what is in demand at the present time, there is no getting around extensive and detailed market research. A brand must know who it wants to specifically address with its products, position itself clearly and optimally tailor the packaging to this – always in the context of the quality and information needs of the modern consumer. For this reason, it is a matter of course for us to research the market and incorporate the findings when developing new design concepts.