From GMOs to horse meat to mad cow disease, these scandals have marked the history of the food industry. And even if sales always shoot back up once the crisis has passed, public trust has been inexorably impaired; sustainably over time, yet more importantly globally. A ‘case’ that is related to the frozen food market is reflected upon the entire food industry which is then subject to the doubts and suspicions of disillusioned consumers. In 2013, according to an IPSOS survey, only 24% of them declared granting their trust to the industrial sector. In other words, a major repudiation.

And what about the small brands that are challenging the historical leaders of large and medium-sized distribution? Or alternative networks that have successfully developed, offering consumers alternatives to large retailers and in turn eating habits focused on processed products? Anecdotic? Perhaps. For the meantime, it is impossible to ignore the quest for authenticity that seems to fuel today’s consumers, nor the profound awareness of the long-term effects of a poor diet.

“I want to know what I’m REALLY eating!” This is the demand made by concerned consumers to the food industrialists, with the underlying ideal being small-scale production. Aware of the stakes, industrialists respond by conveying communication campaigns on food composition and traceability. But beyond this informational component, brands are coming up with new product mixes to expand their offer and thus offer consumers products that are more in tune with their aspirations.

This approach aiming to transcend the standardized dimension of production obviously questions packaging strategies. How will the packaging translate the current key values of truth and humanity? How will a container play a role in bringing the brand to another territory which is more attractive yet remains credible? We will focus here on deciphering some of the levers used by brands to renew their product approach and thus reassure consumers.

Tell a story

The strategy: call upon the imaginary ideal of the artisan to avoid the rejection of mass production. In this case, brands implement storytelling which is embodied in particular in the naming process (‘The Workshop’, ‘Ice-cream confections’ etc.) and the nature of the product itself. In order to be consistent with the chosen positioning, the product must have some irregularities creating the impression that is was made by hand according to a traditional recipe.

Promote transparency

The strategy: exposing the product to indirectly assert that we have nothing to hide. Accused of lacking transparency, more and more brands are favoring specific clustering or transparent materials. By exposing the product, the brand capitalizes on the resulting intrinsic potential of seduction. Because now the product is the star. The trend is leaning towards the essential, a less marketed presentation that lets the product speak for itself.

Think of packaging volume as a storytelling medium;

The strategy: fostering a connection with the product based on touch. In correlation to transparency, touch allows a more direct relationship with the product. The material thus becomes a tool in conveying the promise of the product or even a true sensory metaphor of an organoleptic experience.

These examples show that consumers increasingly prefer an introduction directly through the product, which pushed to the limit may prove to be the negation of marketing. How can large industrial brands benefit and prosper? First by drawing from their sources of legitimacy to identify tangible media and reassurance factors. Then by avoiding systematizing positioning strategies in their global offer. Because being authentic is above all being consistent with the specificity of each and every inherent aspect of the product.

 

Sarah Zannetti, Strategic Planner