A new report from PreScouter found digital and 3D printing technology, social media sharing and consumer demand are combining to encourage more packaging customization. These packaging innovations are more expensive, though, and it's not clear whether consumers will be willing to pay more for specialized content.
The company looked at five different food and beverage personalized packaging campaigns: Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke," Mondelez's "Oreo Colorfilled," Ferrero's "Nutella Unica," Frito-Lay's "Snackable Notes" and Kellogg's "Braille Love Notes." Researchers also profiled 10 firms that provide personalized packaging products.
The benefits from using personalized packaging include greater consumer engagement and brand awareness, increased sales and more consumer loyalty, the report concluded. Because of those advantages, the global personalized packaging market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.1% between 2017 and 2025.
Personalized packaging can rack up successes for several reasons. Many of today's consumers are looking for a more individualized shopping experience and products that speak directly to them and their lifestyles. For manufacturers, personalization draws attention to their products and can enhance sales.
According to a recent L.E.K. Consulting survey of 250 CPG brand owners, 75% said they plan to increase spending on packaging during the next year, which is up from 65% in 2018. The survey also found 90% believe packaging is crucial to their brand's success.
Premium packaging is becoming more important to food and beverage makers because format, quality, printing and appearance can give consumers the message that what's inside is a high-end item and worth the extra cost. The L.E.K. research found 42% of the survey respondents increased the number of premium products in their portfolios, while 35% had changed their promotional approach.
The PreScouter report cited a 2018 U.K. survey in which two-thirds of 335 brand owners, retailers, suppliers, agencies and packaging professionals said they were currently using or considering personalized packaging. About 90% of them thought the trend would become more important during the next few years, the report noted.
Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign, which began in 2014 and is still going on, is one example of a successful personalized approach. Instead of the Coke logo on 20-ounce bottles, the company added 150 of the most popular first names, nicknames and terms of endearment used in 32 countries where its Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar products are sold.
On the technical side, Coca-Cola partnered with Hewlett-Packard, which combined conventional and digital printing to come up with 800 million personalized labels, the report said. The first year of the campaign, the company posted more than 19% sales growth for 20-ounce bottles, which was the largest year-over-year jump it had seen for that size.
The company also regularly updates elements of the campaign by changing names and adding holidays and even song lyrics to packaging. Consumers are encouraged to take selfies with their personalized bottles and post them on social media. It's unlikely a regular packaging change would achieve the same levels of acceptance for Coca-Cola as the "Share a Coke" campaign.
Mondelez tapped into consumers' creativity with its 2015 "Oreo Colorfilled" campaign in which the cookie packages could be customized for holiday gift giving either online or with a kit delivered for at-home use. Not only was this the first time the product had been directly sold to consumers, but it allowed the brand to become part of consumers' lives through personalized on-package messaging.
Ferrero's "Nutella Unica" campaign — or "Unique Nutella" in Italian — was a big hit for the company in 2017 by introducing a limited-edition run of 7 million Nutella jars in that country. Consumers went wild for the unique collection, and they sold out within a month.
Continuing personalization efforts like these are likely to inspire other companies that are looking to differentiate their products in the marketplace. As long as personalized packaging works by appealing to consumers and boosting sales, manufacturers are going to come up with new and increasingly inventive ways to use it.