Packaging : how can innovation help enhance customer experience ?

Packaging innovation remains a priority for all majors groups within the food, beverage and cosmetic industries. But methods have significantly changed over the past few years. After the all design and gizmo features trends, innovation refocuses on enhancing customer experience.

Appeal is not enough

Even if its appeal still trigger purchases, consumers are expecting much more from packaging today. First and foremost requirement : opening and use must be simple and intuitive. Packaging must be forgotten when trying to access the product it contains. Second requirement : a restitution rate of 100%. Packaging can not foster product waste. Third requirement : packaging must contribute to more transparency. It should provide complete and reliable information about the product (manufacturer, ingredients, traceability, manufacturing processes…). Manufacturers, on their side, are fully aware that these new requirements just come in addition to what is already considered as granted : attractive and eco-designed packagings. This makes the innovation process even more complex. But manufacturers see new consumer expectations as an opportunity to develop packagings that better reveal the product’s qualities, enhance consumption experience and increase interactions between brands and consumers.

Finding the problem to be solved before proposing a solution

By placing customer experience at the heart of their innovation process, manufacturers are seeking much more than just adding a new functionality to their packaging or giving it a new shape. They are aiming at understanding what kind of problem they must solve in order to improve user comfort, even if this implies to completely reinvent their packaging, as Danone did with its yogurt pots (Kiss project). Viewed from this perspective, innovation has nothing of a gimmick. It really makes sense for the consumer.

Inclusive Design considers the needs of every consumer

The Inclusive Design method, implemented by groups such as Nestlé, aims at designing packagings that can be used by anyone. Up to now, this method has allowed to improve user comfort for all consumers by considering the specific needs of some particular groups such as the elderly. But it has with no doubt much more to offer for packaging innovation by recognizing the uniqueness of each individual in consumption patterns.

Collaborative innovation : involving suppliers in the process

Co-development and open cooperation with suppliers help manufacturers foster and accelerate the innovation process by combining expertises. This is what L’Oréal aims at with Cherry Pack, an internal incubator dedicated to packaging, where every brand of the group can either pick up a ready-to-use innovation or initiate dialogue around more prospective innovations.

Stay focused on consumers’ needs, recognize diversity and open out to external expertise : 3 keypoints to develop new packagings that really make sense for the consumer.

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