Go beyond the brand in food & beverage packaging

There’s this great post on FoodandBeveragePackaging.com about how packaging is a key element in product branding.   The author describes two elements to fast moving consumer goods packaging (like chips or soda):  “the first moment of truth” (when you see the product on a store shelf and buy it) and “the second moment of truth” (when you open the package and get to the actual product.)

It is this second moment of truth the author says is often missed in the design and branding of packaging, and is even more important as consumers increasingly go online for purchases.  The author writes, “Brands cannot rely solely upon the functional aspects of a package – the package must also evoke the emotional context of the brand to the consumer.”   Well said.

So let’s say you nail the first and second moment of truth with the consumer, but then they’re ready to dispose of the packaging.  Even though they love the brand and the product, they’re faced with what is known as packaging guilt if that packaging is not recyclable and they have to throw it away.

What if there was a third moment of truth that packaging designers had to also think about: connecting with the consumer through packaging disposal.  Is it made with recycled content? Is it recyclable?  Is there a take back program for this packaging where it can be made into something else?   Is the amount of packaging material used as minimal as possible?

Consumers do care and are looking more and more into the brand through product rating systems such as the Good Guide, which helps consumers navigate the sea of products. While there’s not much emphasis on product packaging in the Good Guide ratings, it is pretty comprehensive taking into account a slew of hot button aspects in a product’s production (carbon footprint, water use, fair trade, animal cruelty, toxins, etc.)

You don’t need to go crazy like Sun Chips with the whole compostable bag thing, but the third moment of truth should be a critical component in packaging design and branding and yet another way to connect with the consumer.

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About Amy Marpman

Director of Recycling Services at Great Forest, Inc. in NYC. Continually finding the balance of idealism with the practical realities that make or break recycling programs.
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