With so many brands to choose from when it comes to grocery shopping, consumers tend to go towards brands that they trust or have had good experiences with. A good way to build that brand loyalty that brings consumers back is by developing a brand personality featured on food packaging that consumers can easily relate too.
According to Dr. R. Andrew Hurley, Associate Professor of the Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences Department at Clemson University, one of the best examples of food packaging with personality are fortune cookies. Although the cookies themselves are not regularly associated with packaging, they hold the real “product” inside of them. Most consumers receive a fortune cookie at the end of a meal that they eat at a Chinese restaurant; although the cookie may not be eaten, almost all restaurant goers crack the cookie open to view the fortune written inside of it. This experience is what consumers look forward to when receiving a fortune cookie and this why Dr. Hurley believes that the cookie is “100 percent playful, 100 percent edible and 100 percent package.”
Some food companies have already invested in adding personality to their brands. Magic Hat Brewery is known for the funny quotes on the underside of their bottle caps, like “How much for the goat?”. Pepsi also added personality to their new line of sparkling waters with unique salutations such as “heyo,” “oh hi,” and “hiya” written on the tabs of each can. These food packaging techniques give consumers a sense of importance and delight which can be associated with an enjoyable experience.
However, Hurley warns food companies to be careful when choosing which quotes to use on their packaging. According to Hurley, a good example of going overboard with food packaging quotes is Nestlé’s Dove Chocolate brand. Their individually wrapped Dove chocolate squares are known for the encouraging quotes written on the inside of their wrappers. However, some of these quotes recommend an activity for the consumer to do like “take a deep breath” or “take a bubble bath,” which from a consumer’s perspective can be viewed as passive orders . Food companies can avoid this by using humor or colloquial salutations like Magic Hat and Pepsi.
“All this is to say, a little packaging creativity (and the courage to use it) can certainly go a long way toward cultivating brand loyalty. The biggest challenge for any brand is deciding who they want to be and how they want to tell their story. Playful packaging reminds us as consumers to slow down, enjoy a moment just for the sake of enjoying it, and let ourselves be surprised sometimes. And as packaging engineers, it reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously,” wrote Dr. Hurley in an article.