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Pining for Purity.

Byline: Dana Cvetan

Reassure consumers with a package design that conveys trustworthiness, craftsmanship, joie de vivre and simple goodness.

Whatever food, beverage, over-the-counter (OTC) remedy or health and beauty care (HBC) product is in that box, bottle, can, pouch or jar, it's going into or onto a consumer's body. So that consumer needs to know that everything's going to be OK with that product.

Industry experts agree, therefore: It's important to be authentic, upfront and direct with your package design. Evoke purity and innocence. Convey vibrancy and joy. Build trust in your own brand.

Companies are embracing a more welcoming, friendly appearance on packaging to connect with consumers on a more personal level, says Deborah Ginsburg, founder and CEO of Oakton, Va.-based Strategia Design. Handmade artisanal looks with stripped-down styles, shapes, patterns and easy-to-read fonts bolster this image, Ginsburg declares.

The market-driving, influential millennial generation of young adults is drawn in by authenticity and innocence. They want products that are good to them and good to their earth.

"Everyone wants to believe in something," observes Jennifer Gaeto, creative director of Equator Design, Chicago.

Eco-friendliness is considered the norm to members of this generation, who seek genuine value from the things they purchase, Gaeto adds. Design that is more moody, less idealized, simple and straightforward tells a story consumers want to hear -- that a product is less processed, purer and more natural.

Abstract patterns, bold graphic elements, two or three colors, and monochromatic colorations are on-trend, especially for food and beverages, Gaeto declares.

Simplicity and honesty are fresh, adds Maria Dubuc, director of Boston-based Marketing By Design.

"This is a growing trend based on consumer reaction to overbearing and overworked brands that employ packaging filled with predictable yet disingenuous claims," she says.

Clean and honest branding with minimalist graphics works better, Dubuc adds.

Traceability, social responsibility and value experience are the three micro trends across the food, beverage, OTC and HBC categories that are impacting the private label industry, according to Jean-Pierre Lacroix, president of Toronto-based Shikatani Lacroix.

Lacroix groups these trends under the "macro health umbrella," and says they relate mainly to baby boomers and millennials.

"Boomers are entering their retirement and want to live longer and healthier. The emerging millennials' buying power increases, and their interest [in] social responsibility, environmental issues and their own health will only get stronger with time," Lacroix observes.

Emerging trends

"Delight and joy" have become prominent visual themes, says Chris Ertel, managing director of Kaleidoscope in Chicago.

"We see floods of bright colors, reflecting a tone and energy associated with the brand. Taste and health credentials are confirmed through natural patterning, realistic photography, less-composed food styling and typography with personality," Ertel says.

Visually authentic style showcases the craft, quality and skill in both the product and packaging design, says Jim Lucas, principal and founder of The Evanston Consulting Group, Evanston, Ill. Some of these elements, he adds, include handwritten, raw, freeform or sketchy typography; vintage-inspired references or typography; simple hand-rendered illustrations; and natural color palettes.

Another emerging trend driven by millennials is what might be termed "in-the-moment," Lucas adds. With high expectations and low patience, these consumers want the information they need to make a choice at the point of decision. Lucas cites Google research showing that 82 percent of smartphone users turn to their phones to influence a purchase decision while in the store.

Shoppers are looking for more information about the brands and the products they purchase, which is why trends such as clean labeling and transparent packaging have become popular, Lucas observes.

Advancing own brands

Design strategy should be a thoughtful component to any private brand program and should have a clearly defined brand role, says Todd Maute, partner at New York-based CBX. A brand-led versus product-led approach is a step in the right direction, he adds.

In planning for the future, Maute advises: "Be yourself. Have a brand purpose and execute it in a way that is right for you and your consumers. Don't be afraid to take risks. Design can be a powerful tool to tell a unique and differentiated story."

Design is an under-leveraged tool, one with the power to cause a reaction, Maute declares.

"Use design strategically, creatively and as a tool to express your brand and beliefs," he advises.

Gaeto recommends that retailers differentiate their private brands by standing for something.

"Create something people can believe in," she says.

And thinking of private label as a private brand instead changes just one word, yet transforms a retailer's entire mindset, Gaeto says.

"Once you go down that path, you think like a national brand will think. Know what you stand for and what your products stand for, and you will have a more compelling product," she stresses.

Ginsberg advocates for long-term planning to create "visionary" brands that will inspire loyalty.

"There was a time, about 15 years ago, when retailers were building their programs, and the long-term visions played a stronger role in product development, packaging quality and pricing strategy. Today, many retailers are trying to get products out faster, cheaper and easier, and they are losing a sense of detail and care that is very noticeable to their customers," she notes.

There is a big opportunity for own brands to profit by understanding how their products add value to consumers' lives.

"Develop a system and design language to activate this promise, and then leverage a unified architecture across the categories," Ertel says. "A confident and flexible branded system that delivers the right category cues, while reinforcing a larger retailer proposition, allows retail brands to offer consumers differentiation more nuanced than price alone."

Retailers need to constantly assess the definition of value across their consumer segments, too, and explore ways to deliver this through products and packaging, says Lacroix.

"Our role as brand strategists and designers is to help our clients bridge the current and the future by creating a design roadmap that ensures we bring their customers along for the journey," he explains.
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Author:Cvetan, Dana
Publication:Progressive Grocer's Store Brands
Date:Sep 1, 2015
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