Four Ways to Foster Customer Loyalty
Four Key Considerations for Enriching Brand Experience and Meeting Consumer Demand
By Joe Schewe, director of design and engineering at RRD
The pandemic rapidly transformed consumer habits, creating major shifts in priorities for consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers. Just as these businesses pivoted to address the abrupt rise in e-commerce orders, supply chain strains, and more recently, a re-focusing on sustainability, so did their packaging needs.
It’s important for brand owners to use packaging as a tool in creating unique connections that foster customer loyalty. Simultaneously, these decision-makers must balance this imperative with the other demands on packaging: e-commerce optimization, operational flexibility, high-performance amid a strained supply chain, and sustainability-enhancing measures.
Smart folding carton design – and close collaboration with the right partner – can help brands address all of these challenges, while keeping four key considerations in mind.
1. Identify packaging needs: Scrutinize everything
It may seem obvious, but frequently, brand decision-makers can forget that packaging should serve as an extension of the product itself. Instead, selections are often made around the dimensions, formats and materials that are most convenient. It’s critical for companies to design packaging around the product and the desired brand experience.
In the case of a multi-faceted product like diagnostic and testing kits, there are several factors. For example, all items must be perfectly preserved when they make it to the user. Product protection measures like molded inserts and packing material, as well as the inclusion of items such as instructions, must be considered and designed to lay the components out in a way that makes sense to the user while maintaining protection along the shipping journey. Additionally, inclusion of multiple components—especially delicate ones—and subsequent packing material may necessitate a higher gauge material to ensure durability and adequate protection of the contents. If a brand is trying to downgauge or use lightweight material in the name of sustainability and e-commerce optimization, it’s important to reconcile these factors.
2. Make a great impression: Enhance the brand experience
With the growing popularity of e-commerce and subscription box services, brands are leaning more than ever into packaging to make a great first impression with consumers. The unboxing experience of a new product – which was once thought of as a passing trend – has now become an integral part of modern consumerism. When the pandemic called for in-person gatherings to cease as much as possible and forced many businesses to remain operational through e-commerce only, companies of all categories and sizes considered the ways that packaging could deliver a positive brand experience to their customers’ doorsteps.
When translating brand experience into a folding carton design, CPGs must work with their packaging supplier to understand how the package and in-box materials can function as a seamless extension of the brand. To achieve this, manufacturers must determine marketing goals and establish an overall brand theme to create the desired opening experience with graphic treatment and way-finding textural qualities. When done correctly, CPGs can achieve a custom solution that not only further emphasizes brand consistency but resonates with customers and ultimately establishes brand loyalty.
3. Streamline production: Address manufacturing complexities
Even before the pandemic, the proliferation of SKUs was evolving, and lockdowns only contributed to that growth. While the demand for more product variation is great, in essence, ultimately a larger inventory can create a complex supply chain. Moreover, designing folding cartons for an expanding inventory can prove to be an arduous and costly task if not done correctly.
Keeping this in mind, it is critical for CPGs to ensure that material availability intersects with both brand and product needs to help ease pack out and distribution complexities. Decisions must be made around how the intended package will be assembled and loaded as well as the degree in which the packaging will need to arrive to the customer. For regulated products, it is important to note whether there are any requirements for the product or facility such as cGMP, ISO or any other certifications. With additional context, CPGs can help preemptively combat inefficiencies when packaging multiple SKUs because the folding carton has been configured to address specific needs.
4. Staying on trend: Answer the call for sustainable packaging
Sustainability remains a point of interest for consumers as they progressively express a preference for sustainably packaged products. In fact, 60% of consumers said they go out of their way to recycle and purchase products in environmentally friendly packaging, according to a July 2020 McKinsey report. State and federal governments in the United States and Canada are also introducing legislation which puts the cost of waste and recycling on manufacturers that sell packaged goods, increasing charges for those that use less sustainable materials. As this shift continues, CPG companies must proactively seek more sustainable alternatives for their packaging.
Brands in consumer goods, beauty and many other industries have already adapted their packaging and overall approach to sustainability with some brands having reevaluated their sustainability goals around the use of plastics in both their packaging and products. For example, major personal care brands have transitioned razor blade packaging from blister packaging and plastic clamshells to paperboard hang tag cartons, in addition to producing 50% of its products from non-virgin petroleum plastic.
For a more sustainable packaging design, CPGs must consider their goals and product requirements. This, in turn, will help determine what kinds of materials they can utilize to achieve the desired outcome, whether it be recyclability, simply cutting down materials or a complete redesign. However, no packaging is sustainable if it fails to protect the product inside. For the best result, brands must work closely with their packaging partners to ensure measures to enhance the sustainability of packaging don’t backfire by failing on performance.
Find the solution that works for your brand
As the market continues to evolve, prompting CPGs to adjust to rising e-commerce, sustainability and SKU proliferation demand, it is critical that their folding cartons can meet the charge as well.
While a folding carton design can help brands better engage with consumers and navigate challenges along the way, collaborating with an established packaging expert is key to accomplishing this feat. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for folding cartons, but the right packaging partner can ideate and create a design that meets your needs.
About the Author
Joe Schewe is the director of design and engineering at RRD.