Function First

October 1, 2005
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Function First
Jennifer Acevedo, Editor-in-Chief
As the only magazine devoted to the marketing impact of packaging, BRANDPACKAGING dedicates many of its pages to the strategy, graphics, structure, shape, color and typographic devices used to make innovative packaging stand out on the shelf and win with consumers. But it’s also important to consider the primary function of the package—to transport and protect the product within. How well the package accomplishes this particular function has a direct affect on the brand from the consumer’s perspective.
A recent study conducted by Perception Research Services ( and commissioned by MeadWestvaco examined how consumers react to damaged packaging and found that even the slightest damage to frozen food packaging can have a direct impact on brand loyalty.
PRS randomly approached 450 consumers (men and women, ages 21 to 74) who had purchased frozen entrees in the six months prior to the April/May 2005 testing period. Based on their particular brand of choice for (in this study) macaroni and cheese, the respondents were then divided into three groups: brand loyal, loyal to a competitive brand and non-brand-specific shoppers.
“Almost universally, when given an option, shoppers distrusted any damaged package,” says Lily Lev-Glick, PRS director of Shopper Insights and Point of Sale Research. “To make matters worse, 15 percent were not going to purchase any frozen entrée during the shopping visit if [the damaged] entrée was the last one on the shelf. That translates into a lost sale for the retailer and a drop in perception for the manufacturer.”
For competitive shoppers, “brand you trust” perception drops from 73 percent to 41 percent with even slight damage. And for packages deemed “very damaged”, the results are even more compelling. If a very damaged package is the last one on the shelf, the study found that 55 percent will leave the brand, 36 percent will buy another brand instead, and 19 percent won’t purchase any frozen entree at that time.
The study found that when encountering damaged packaging at retail, consumers tend to question the quality, freshness and reliability of the product contained within. Bottom line? Says MeadWestvaco’s Mike Skrovanek, “The millions and millions of dollars food manufacturers are spending to create beautiful packaging and messaging are going down the drain when the crushed package keeps the consumer from picking it up.”

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