17 October 2017
In a bid for simplification and efficiency, the supermarket giants are emulating the discounters by reducing their number of SKUs.
Here are five packaging tips which will help squeezed grocery brands avoid being delisted - helping food manufacturers stand out, stay on-shelf and thrive in this competitive marketplace.
The UK grocery sector is arguably going through its biggest shake-up in history. With the continued success and growth of the discounters, the big four supermarkets need to take more aggressive action. In this challenging climate, it is the brands and the shoppers that are at greatest risk. It’s about price and the quality of the experience. A key part of the grocers’ efforts to date has been to move away from expensive in-store aisles and shelf promotions. Copying the success of Aldi, Asda and Tesco have now taken another step down the road to simplification and limited their number of SKUs. This not only simplifies the shopping experience but also is much more efficient and effective to manage, thus reducing time and costs. Fewer supplier relationships means that grocers can focus on the established monopoly or duopoly of branded players (think Heinz Baked Beans, Coca-Cola and Pepsi), sitting alongside their own-label business, the true key business they want to work with and win – why wouldn’t they want to back their own horses? But for the brands – particularly those that don’t have a clear and established love affair with shoppers – there is a real threat of being delisted and potentially becoming lost forever.
All is not lost. Brands can fight to stay on-shelf and prosper; but they need to invest in finding a sustainable role in shoppers’ lives and reflect this through every element of the brand. It sounds simple, but how can brands – especially those getting squeezed in the middle – reinvent themselves and offer something truly different to the branded monopoly or duopoly players in the market?
Food manufacturers need to look to empower their brands with design that works. Below are our five top tips for brands looking to thrive, not just survive.
1.Get up close and personal with your audience
The most important role of brand packaging is to connect a shopper with an occasion and need. The old adage for success, was that you just needed to stand out on-shelf and be different. Therefore, Designers just busily went away and changed the colour of the packaging to ensure it stood out against the rainbow of colours on fixture.
Brands looking to get closer to their audience with emotive designs must trigger the ‘pick up and purchase’. to stand the best chance of becoming a top brand in the market and demanding to stay on-shelf.
2. Become iconic
We identify and derive meaning from iconography. The advertising industry has now moved further away from the copy-laden ads of the ‘Mad Men’ era towards those with short, sharp headlines and more emotive imagery. Icons are now key to capture consumer attention.
For example, an alcohol brand with a harp, or a snack brand with a man’s moustache and bow tie make up Guinness and Pringles, respectively. However, there is still room for brands to find new meaning and create new icons.
3. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Brands lacking clarity in their core ideas struggle to believe in one key message and litter their packaging with too much wallpaper that people don’t bother to read. Brands should be looked at through a traffic-light lens: Red – which graphical elements can be thrown away because nobody cares about? Amber – graphics that have some equity but can be leveraged further. Green – Graphics that must be kept and strengthened further. With fresh eyes, try the traffic-light test.
4. Have a unique packaging structure
Consumers walking down the aisles scan the fixtures and their eyes first see structural format before anything else. Brands like Coca-Cola, Toblerone, Pringles, Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Orangina have all invested in structural form, creating packaging that stands out visually. However, it’s not always possible to have a unique shape, so how else can you innovate? Italy’s famed San Pellegrino drinks brand made its soft drinks cans stand out by simply adding a foil top, invoking memories of peeling fruit. It takes you to that natural place the brand wants you to be in when buying a fizzy orange or lemon drink. It’s not difficult, but it’s hugely effective.
By looking to extend the product above and beyond, the core packaging format is critical and is key to bringing innovation to the category. It’s not rocket science, but too few brands truly innovate packaging structure, and with packaging waste being a key consumer bugbear, it’s time brands took note and made a difference.
5. Innovate or Die
As already highlighted, branded players that aren’t first or second in their category must step out of the shadows and reconnect with their audience. One of the best ways for them to do this is – invest in relevant innovation that brings their brand and their chosen audience closer together.
Usually, there are three clear paths to innovation. First, invest in consumer insight to understand what ideas would work, as well as spending time in the kitchen. Following trends is also a clear path to innovation.
Second, a great deal of our trends come from multinational businesses that transfer successful products, often from the US, into the European markets. Get out there and see what’s working abroad, what can be learnt and then apply here in the UK.
Third, successfully innovate with packaging structure or new extensions such as Mondelez’s Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations (a brand that didn’t exist a decade ago but is now worth almost £95m). Or simply mash brands up, as Mondelez has done with its Cadbury Dairy Milk Oreo Bars.
The buyers in grocery retail are on the hunt for the relevant innovation that will make a commercial difference and quickly drive their category forward. It’s up to each manufacturer to decide just what they have in their arsenal to leverage, and then follow their own unique path to innovation to make a commercial difference.
There is a set of principles that can be applied to your food brand. Principles that should help to give your product a fighting chance to stand up, be seen and ultimately make a difference in people’s lives.
Emma Godman, Senior Strategist: The Power of Introverts
Given it's International Women’s Day I have been reflecting on my own experience of what being a woman in business means to me and wanted to share some thoughts…
Richard Taylor: The Making of a Challenger Brand
The Alantra Food & Beverage Fast 50 is full of challenger brands taking on the established businesses in their sector. But what does it take to succeed as a challenger?
Leigh Armstrong: Will artificial intelligence homogenise creative industries?
Brandon MD Leigh chats ChatGPT and the impact of artificial intelligence on creativity.
People Love a bit of DWB!
The world of functional drinks, or ‘drinks with benefits’ (DWB) is a category that has seen huge development.
Meet Executive Creative Director, Steve Conchie
Steve shares the best things about his job, as well as the genius behind “who's nicked my friggin' grapes".
Meet Client Service Director – Simon Ellis
Who knew Simon is a musicals fan? But when he’s not belting out a classic, he loves nothing more than the feeling of absolutely nailing a client brief.
On pack messaging: Brand Purpose versus Distinctive Assets
Louise Kennedy on the strategies that brands implement when bringing together brand purpose and distinctive assets.
Transform Magazine: Iconicity as the route to impact
Managing Partner, Richard Taylor on the importance of iconicity in the route to impact.
The supplements brands gym-bound Brits will be turning to
Richard Taylor speaks to The Grocer about how brands need to cut through in the sports nutrition and supplements world.
Ever wondered what it's like working at Brandon?
We speak to two of our latest recruits to find out...
Design as a powerful asset in the fight for relevance
Strategist Tessa Hill on some of the key relevance challenges we’re asked to solve through the power of design.
FAB News: What do you stand for?
FAB News: Louise Kennedy on how winning the fight for relevance starts with positioning.
Interview with a strategist – Tessa Hill
Tessa loves being involved in a project from a very early stage.
All I want for Christmas... is a good limited edition strategy
Strategist Tessa Hill comments on the learnings from five of our favourite Christmas limited editions.
What role does innovation play in driving brand relevance?
Strategy Director Louise Kennedy with some top tips on how to use innovation to drive brand relevance.
Immunity in 2020
Strategist Tessa Hill uncovers the design codes shaping the immunity category in 2020.
Interview with a designer - Abi Taylor
Hear from our Co-Founder on her love of design and how Brandon came to be.
Reawakening a love for brand books
Senior Designer Jay Bates on why brand guidelines shouldn't be left at the bottom of a drawer.
Five Minutes with Louise Kennedy
Louise Kennedy talks to Transform about how brands can stay relevant and how packaging can improve brand performance.
FAB News: ‘Relevance - The Holy Grail of Marketing'
FAB News: Strategy Director Louise Kennedy on what relevance actually means.
Recession-ready tip #2 – Rethink innovation
How rethinking innovation can be a tool to get your brand ready for a recession.
Interview with a designer - Joe Bembridge
Read what inspires Brandon’s first full-time designer.
How hero your distinctive brand assets
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy considers the importance of distinctive assets.
Can casual dining brands survive on supermarket shelves?
Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about how hospitality brands can make an impact through supermarket retail.
Don’t underestimate the influence of packaging in the home
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy discusses actionable ways for brands to build an emotional connection with consumers at home.
Interview with a Designer - Jay Bates
Brandon’s self-confessed brand architecture nerd, Jay, on what inspires him every day.
Marketing Week's ‘All change: The complex route ahead for automotive branding’
As car manufacturers face pressure to move to cleaner energy and shift their strategy, Richard Taylor, discusses what that means for brand.
Hero design for the new hero channel
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy challenges what the hero design is and will become.
Hitting their peak: How brands plan to retain new customers post-lockdown
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about shopping on autopilot and making new habits in the crisis.
Interview with a Designer - Grace Buckley
Grace can often be found in the supermarket rearranging the shelves to show off her work in its best light!
Reflections from the Darkside
Strategist Louise Kennedy’s view on agency life from the perspective of a ‘newbie’.
Will Harrods' bet on a new beauty brand pay off?
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about Harrods' new beauty brand.
Desert Island Ads
We asked our Creative Director for his top 10 ads that shaped and inspired his thinking over the decades
D&AD Top 5 tips to move beyond mediocrity to design greatness
Inspiration from Rosie Arnold at the D&AD Talks 2019
The Joys of Brand Planning
Our Top 5 Brand Planning Tips - identifying new, exciting opportunities for growth.
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles: What lessons can we learn from Coca-Cola's Life U-Turn?
The Brand Packaging Health-Check
The Brand Packaging Health-Check: 5 Killer Tips to see if a refresh is due or long overdue
The Art of FMCG Brand Architecture
Three principles we apply to ensure a successful brand architecture
Refreshing Established Food and Drink Brands
Here we discuss six routes for a brand to acquire new relevant meaning.
The Grocer - Pasta & Sauces report
The Grocer features Managing Partner Richard's thoughts on the pasta and sauces category.
The Logo. On its last legs? Or fit as a fiddle?
Of late there has been a school of thought which argues that the static logo is terminally ill.