When austerity bites, the pack must be right.
It is often said that in a time of austerity that private labels increase their share of the market, and whilst this seems true, in fact, as we look back over the last 45 years, we see that private labels have continued to capture a growing market share, year after year, austerity or not!
So in the world of brands and packaging, the real effect of austerity lays, not in the encroachment of Private Labels, but in changing attitudes of the consumers themselves. When austerity bites, consumers call into question the value they receive from brands and question the cost they have to pay.
This can trigger a change in other consumer values, when ‘staying-in’ becomes the new ‘going out’, when ‘mend and make-do’ replaces the excesses of consumerism. Such a new definition of value also polarises attitudes towards brands and drives consumers to ‘trade-up’ in emotional meaningful categories and ‘trade-down’ in essentials or less meaningful categories. The winners of this shakeout are always those brands that consumers really value and, at the other end of the scale, the discount brands. The losers end up being those in between.
Brands that hope to be amongst the winners need to offer real and tangible value, paying close attention to consumer rituals and desires and creating a ‘brand experience’ that will ‘eclipse’ austerity decision-making choices and instead ‘enhance’ consumer trust.
However, it’s not all about change, there also needs to be a great respect for the relationship that already exists between the consumer and a brand; So this is no time to start throwing away, or confusing, the existing visual equities that offer reassurance and foster a connection to a brand. Instead, it is a time for distilling those equities, simplifying and amplifying their meaning to express confidence and leadership.
As long as the majority of purchase decisions continue to be made in-store, packaging design remains the key visual expression of most fmcg brands, and in a time of austerity, it should be addressed to clearly communicate and bring added value.
Rowland Heming – 2015©
For further information contact Rowland Heming