Packaging for MillennialsAugust 31, 2016 - by Kory Grushka
Millennials are the next wave of influential shoppers. Born between 1981 and 2000, studies show they will be 50 percent of the workforce by the year 2020 and will spend more than $200 billion annually, starting in 2017. Millennials are loyal to brands that treat them well, offer new experiences, and are aligned with their beliefs. That’s why it’s important that packaging appeals to this generation in the best way.
Joseph Anthony, a millennial marketing expert and CEO of HERO Group, has worked with some of the world’s leading brands such as Pfizer, Nintendo, Pepsi and Nike, says Millennials look for a personal connection to their preferred brands and are more likely to buy a product if it makes them feel special through this personal connection or the idea of exclusivity.
A new report from Mintel, Marketing to Millennials, revealed limiting the availability of a product creates a unique purchase experience in which brands effectively satisfy the pronounced desire of Millennials to have the latest, greatest and most exclusive products. It notes that offering a limited-time-only rollout of personalized packaging has the ability to create unique connections with consumers who might be mulling a purchase.
Digital Plays a Role
The role of packaging in the digital space plays more of a brand-building role than in traditional brick and mortar shopping environments. In social media, packaging may not have to do the job of shelf impact and differentiation, but there’s an opportunity to play with brand elements in a simpler, more iconic way that makes consumers want to share across their social channels.
For example, packaging that includes quick-response (QR) codes right on the label gives consumers immediate access to a community that is also participating and purchasing the same products as they are.
Recent examples of brands doing this include Coca Cola, Frito-Lay’s and Heinz.
Lorrie Frear, an associate professor in package design and packaging science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, N.Y., says that when communicating information about a brand, it is critical that brand managers and designers consider mobile as a key component of the entire brand strategy and not as an add-on
“Consumers use devices in making buying decisions quickly, so be sure that information is easy to find on the packaging and not small or hidden,” she says. “The user experience is critical to acquiring return customers, so be sure that any interaction takes less than a few seconds to accomplish and that the destination is reached within three clicks.”
A big trend in packaging with Millennials in mind is reseal. Over the last few years, the snack aisle has seen more and more packaging with reseal tabs to allow consumers to eat a handful and then reseal the packaging for later.
There are a few main benefits to this type of packaging, particularly for Millennials. It’s convenient and portable for their busy lifestyles; it promotes healthy snacking as many of these items are pre-cut, peeled fruit; and the food stays fresher longer using a moisture vapor film barrier.
Ryan Lupberger, founder of Cleancult, which delivers non-toxic laundry pods, designed his packaging with Millennials in mind. The company’s market research has shown that Millennials want to buy responsible products, but are actually 23 percent less likely to purchase a “green” brand.
“We saw that Millennials wanted two things. They wanted packaging that could be recycled, but they also wanted this packaging to be durable and design focused,” he says. “Most were not interested in packaging that signified it was cheaper or just eco-friendly. They care about purchasing products that combine design, convenience, and responsible packaging. They are not willing to sacrifice one of these things for a more eco-friendly package.”
Millennials also seem to care about humor in the opening experience of the packaging. Companies like Naturebox and Dollar Shave Club have done well because they combined all three things with a focus on humor.
While packaging design is crucial to set your product apart from competitors, a recent Asia Pulp & Paper study found that packaging appearance, including design, is less of a factor for purchasing than one might think. According to the research, Millennials are placing less focus on packaging design and demanding more functional and sustainable packaging. In fact, only 21 percent of Millennials surveyed indicated design as the most important feature when making purchasing decisions.
Reducing the volume of packaging – and the types of materials used – continues to be a good way to improve functionality and the sustainability of a product’s packaging and a goal of many companies around the globe. It not only makes sense from a business standpoint but also from a sustainability and customer relations standpoint.
Companies are discovering that one way to ensure and build customer loyalty is to prevent situations that may cause a delay in opening their packages. The simple solution is to utilize packaging that can be easily opened – no tools required. Paper-related products are not only the most frustration-free type of packaging, but they’re also one of the most recyclable and sustainable at this point.