There’s no getting away from the fact that most FMCG packaging hidden behind the condensation filled windows of the frozen aisles are unlikely to win any major design awards. Yet, for brands that are benefiting from the current frozen meal renaissance, surely it’s time to up their game and bring some warmth and charm into this sector?
Some areas of the frozen food sector are seeing unprecedented growth – driven by a demand for value, quality and convenience. Frozen ready meals have gained £18.4m in value over the past year [Kantar 52 w/e 8 November 2015] and there have been lots of exciting new launches fulfilling the taste for quick and easy ‘world food’.
Yet, looking around the frozen aisles there’s a lot of ‘me too’ packaging which just doesn’t stand out. It’s true though that there are some new brands and new lines coming through which are genuinely ‘stand out’. Hats off to Whitby Seafoods here – the brand and its packaging have genuine charm and exude a delightful cheekiness which makes it utterly appealing. Beach huts, bunting and jaunty seagulls. The packaging is colourful and you can’t escape the big idea…the provenance and authenticity that really is Whitby…the home of scampi.
Of course for the big brands, they have to find their own ideas to truly stand out, and in most cases it comes down to the ingredients. It’s essential that the quality and deliciousness of the ingredients is clearly communicated and signposted. Perhaps most importantly, the food photography when used in frozen ready meals has to really up its game. Consumers need a reason to open that frozen door and if the photos showcase the food to make it look utterly scrumptious, it can have a huge impulse impact. I would also advocate a more ‘editorial’ foodie style of photography, make it friendlier and more appealing to consumers (bubbling, oozing cheese waiting for you to wipe with your finger and eat) and less bland photoshopped images of the perfect plate.
For all foods appearing in the frozen aisle there will always be some major challenges to overcome. The biggest challenge is that no-one particularly likes hanging out in the frozen aisles. It’s genuinely a cold and depressing place to be. It’s often hard to see into the freezers and you end up opening a couple of doors to find what you are after. There’s a lot more that the supermarkets could do to help engage consumers in this part of the store, better lighting and warmth. But as brands have very little control over that, it’s up to the power of packaging to truly make them stand out.
It’s definitely time to get consumers to reconsider frozen. To achieve this, brands need to build on the quality, value and convenience message, and change the perception of frozen as being a second choice to fresh, and instead help consumers see frozen as an equal. They should appeal to the younger foodie focused, health conscious shoppers, who would buy into frozen if they were pointed in the right direction and the presentation and messages were right.
It’s time to be not so reliant on big ‘brand’ logos to sell products. Consumers are less loyal to brands, but will be loyal to deliciousness done right. It’s time to bring some vibrancy to the sector. Be fun and cheeky if you can. Or go posh and gastro. But whatever you do, do it with warmth. If the supermarket won’t warm up the consumer, it’s up to us in the FMCG packaging world to create stand out packaging that connects with the consumer and can inject some sunshine with memorable and engaging designs.
Designs by Gareth Ball, Design Director in our Hull Studio
To continue the conversation please contact Kim Van Elkan on 07900 430 870