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BW Businessworld

Analysis: Educate And Inform

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Malcolm gladwell may call it ‘a tipping point’ but many of us just know life has its aha moments.

For Kanto Products too, that moment probably came with Salma’s visual wrestling with her half-used jar of pasta sauce. That she raised it with her colleague Abhinav and that ripple carried through the marketing team (Chacko) and upward to the MD Prakash Udpa, is creditable. Rarely is a junior brand person’s observation so valuable!

Many of us in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) world could be accused of reducing our packaging to the role of a well-dressed town crier. We lend our voice to it to make it deliver only the following:
  • Attract buyer
  • Communicate message
  • Create desire for the product
  • Sell product
Brands tend to concentrate on the front of a pack because seldom do they expect the consumer to read all that is written all over.

Food brands tend to do the same. They settle for a great photograph and then use key adjectives such as Cholesterol Free, Sugar Free or Home-style to project attributes they think the consumer will place a value on. Some go to the extent of describing products as Original, Super or Premium.

The goal is to ensure packaging pops out on the shelf and differentiates itself from other brands. Food shots can be exaggerated to the point where the picture looks nothing like the actual product. While this might induce consumer purchase, it will rarely help in repeat buying. Designers may win awards for a great looking pack, but consumer dissonance could be lurking around the corner
The back panel is often ignored. Companies believe it not to be a space for powerful communication, a space where they ought to somehow comply with regulatory norms encompassing ingredient statements, bar codes, nutritional panels and minimal usage instructions such as ‘Replace cap after use.’

As a result, brands lose out on the opportunity of using the entire pack to properly educate and inform consumers about important aspects of the product. Consumers need to be informed about the necessary facts on nutrition such as fat, carbs, proteins, etc. Where relevant, attributes such as organic, vegan, Kosher or Gluten-free must be highlighted.

Most consumers are unaware of functional and regulatory information, which must be organised well in one panel only, and not be scattered around. Abhi and Salma are rightfully shocked at the lack of clarity on expiry dates and product price while looking at Kay’s Jam, caused by faded inkjetting, peeled-off stickers and data in different places.

Care must be taken to ensure people understand the language used. Please say ‘Best before’ instead of BB. Easy contact information on how consumers can reach out in the event of a query or complaint must be provided. Having taken care of regulatory norms, it is important to educate consumers on other useful information, which may prevent wastage or spoilage of products. In addition to providing shelf life information, a simple direction such as — ‘once pack is open, keep unheated product in the refrigerator for up to three days’ provides additional information on usage and storage.

Smart brands ensure they point out important innovations of having introduced a ‘cold spot’ in a microwavable pack to prevent burn injuries like Conagra does with its popcorn.

A leading maker of tomato paste provides ‘Hints and Tips’ of mixing tomato paste with water to use as stock, or add to soups for added flavour, or stir into risotto — taking the consumer into new areas of product usage. The pack then goes on to educate consumers on the fact that tomato paste is one of the richest natural sources of lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. The brand effectively informed and educated the consumer on product attributes that may normally not be known.

A 360° communication on a pack ensures a firm handshake between the brand and the consumer. It is fortunate packaging starts with ‘P’ else even the 5th place it gets in a 4P world (Product, Price, Promotion and Place) would have proved elusive!

The simple truth is consumers are increasingly spending more time on the back of the pack than on the front. Companies should do the same.   

The writer is managing Director, Tasty Bite Eatables

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 28-07-2014)