Consumers are increasingly snacking on the go as way to supplement or replace main meals, according to Mintel's Benjamin Punchard, Bakery and Snacks reported. This change in consumption habits is driving manufacturers to develop product packaging that supports busy lifestyles.
This trend is reflected by the rise of flexible packaging materials, easily portable containers and packaging that clearly communicates the product's healthy attributes, such as added fiber, protein or fat-free formulas. Smaller packaging sizes also help consumers manage portion control during snack time. Another growing trend in packaging is easy-open, resealable packaging.
"Think about a packaging format that suits someone who is traveling or seated on a train, bus or in a car. The packaging needs to offer on-he-go convenience such as packaging that can serve as a bowl, comes with a flat bottom, or a pop sound that resembles freshness when opening, anything that can save time on the go," Punchard told Bakery and Snacks.
There are two ways manufacturers can leverage packaging to meet the busy, health-conscious consumers’ time sensitivity needs: Communicating nutritional value and designing it to complement the on-the-go person.
Consumers who want a healthy snack on the go, for example, know what they’re getting out of an RXBar without having to stop and read the ingredient list because it’s boldly printed on the front of the wrapper — egg whites, almonds, cashews, dates. In an increasingly crowded snacking space, this marketing strategy could push other manufacturers to more boldly promote their ingredients up front — a savvy move given consumer demand for clean label food and beverages.
It's important for manufacturers to choose their on-pack language wisely. Consumer understanding of nutritional health has become far more sophisticated than a few years ago, and “minor claims” such as low fat or low salt are no longer major competitive advantages. Punchard told Bakery and Snacks this is because these claims are associated with processed foods and consumers are increasingly “turning their back on processing.”
If a manufacturer can’t outwardly communicate nutritional advantages on its packaging, transparency could be just as effective. Mintel reports nearly 40% of consumers would choose a product over a competitor if the packaging allowed them to view the food inside. As consumers have come to expect transparency, a vast majority of them (70%) said they would be willing to pay a little extra for translucent packaging.
Perhaps a bigger advantage than showcasing healthy ingredients is if a manufacturer can solve the demand — and in many cases, the need — for portability through packaging. This challenge is often cited as a reason cold cereal sales have slowed in recent years; consumers simply don’t have time to sit down and eat a meal anymore. Packaging that is flexible enough to facilitate consumption on the go has a big advantage over packaging considered inconvenient. Families with young children, for instance, are driving the squeeze pouch market, which could hit the $1 billion mark in the next couple of years.
Not only can flexible packaging help save a busy family time, it can also help a brand’s perception. According to Mintel, 32% of consumers associate flexible packaging with innovation, and 36% of consumers are interested in packaging that allows food to be eaten on the go.
Manufacturers have just a few second to win over consumers as they scan grocery aisles, and packaging is the critical factor in facilitating these purchase decisions. If a brand can offer clear nutritional benefits and portability on the limited real estate packaging allows, it will be at a significant advantage with health-conscious consumers.