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    Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry, shares her insights and opinions on all things petfood, addressing market trends as well as news and developments in pet nutrition, food safety and other hot topics for the industry.

    Packaging: what consumers (say they) want

    Sep 12, 2012 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Consumer surveys routinely show the same wants and needs for packaging of consumer goods products: convenience, ease of opening and closing (and, increasingly, ease of resealing the package), product freshness and sustainability -- though the majority of consumers surveyed don't seem willing to pay more for eco-friendly packaging. These all hold true in a survey conducted by Packaged Facts earlier this year and reported by Marketing Daily.

     

    While the survey was about foods and beverages for humans, many of the findings could apply to petfood packaging. For example:

     

    • Many consumers think products are over-packaged (61% agree strongly or somewhat with this)
    • Convenience is highly important
    • The ability to reseal and easily open and close a package are among the most highly valued traits
    • Also important: lighter-weight and less bulky plastic packaging
    • Product freshness ranks high, too

     

    The Marketing Daily article, by Karlene Lukovitz, said the good news is that few consumers -- just 1% to 5% -- expressed dissatisfaction with any type of packaging. Some negative comments were expressed about packaging not being recyclable or environmentally friendly. Lukovitz also cited a 2010 survey by Perception Research Services showing 48% of respondents believing manufacturers should produce more eco-friendly packaging and 51% reporting a willingness to pay more for it. Yet that "willing" percentage was down from 57% in 2008, and 59% said environmentally friendly packaging should come at no cost to the consumer.

     

     

    I was initially alerted to this article by an e-newsletter from Weatherchem, a manufacturer of plastic closures. This company recently conducted its own consumer survey, with results very similar to the one from Packaged Facts. For example, "better closure design" was rated the top factor influencing the choice of one packaging design over another, receiving a 4.1 (out of 5.0) score.

     

     

    Of course, a survey funded by a manufacturer of closures is likely to highlight positive findings about closures, but the basic message from consumers is the same. Perhaps it was perhaps best expressed by David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts: "Food and beverage categories and brands have benefited significantly when manufacturers and retailers have managed to fuse packaging innovation with emerging consumer trends," such as user-friendly features and other functional aspects, Lukovitz wrote.

     

     

    Just don't expect all consumers to be willing to pay for such innovation and friendliness (toward users or the environment).

     

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