New sensory experiences
This 2018 Alter’Native Food conference talk details the changes undergone by our society concerning sensory awareness with regard to food, and in terms of the emotions associated with packaging, over the course of recent generations.
Slow changes in French society when it comes to food matters
In France we have observed slow changes in the approach to food, with the new generations distancing themselves from the attitudes of their predecessors, which date back to before the end of the Second World War. Today, the younger generations want to eat better and seek ecological solutions.
Damage to the environment is, indeed, of prime concern to the French people. Making the right food choices is now influenced by scientific research and recommendations concerning chronic diseases. Studies prove that there is a significant link between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease, obesity and cancer.
For the 18-24 age range, quality food must be balanced and nutritional. In France, in the year 2000, key consumer criteria were taste, the sensory, flavour and quality labels. To these criteria could be added, from 2007 on, aesthetics and product freshness, and now it is the organic and raw products that are increasingly sought after.
Consumers the world over are keen to avoid the industrial, colourings and additives. They now wish instead to turn to products in tune with their sensibilities, and which offer them reassurance.
Seeking out the organic and the “free-from” is also a socially distinctive sign for the better-off and more educated social classes. The other socio-professional categories still look for what is good and tasty in food, and it is notable that the growth in organic has been very strong in the past two years, to meet this demand.
Creating food packaging for people
The brands are also looking for return on investment, and profitability has to be immediate. If, after three months, a product has not made its mark on the shelves, it is taken out of circulation. The rise in the digital must therefore be trimmed and tailored in relation to the physical points of sale.
We are in a society that is increasingly cold and technical, symbolised by the rise in artificial intelligence (AI) and robots. Humans still nonetheless remain present, and they will never be entirely replaced, since they have something essential that machines lack: emotion. It is this that conveys the intuitive and sensitive dimension, which no software can bring. And this changes everything in terms of creation, since packaging appeals to the sense of what it is to be a human, not a machine.
Ecology at the heart of the packaging of tomorrow
The made-to-measure is a powerful idea, which the brands must take onboard. It is important that brands are able to adapt to each individual, since the digital has made consumers get used to an individual and unique relationship with the brands. The customer is today part of the brand’s history. Limited series need to be worked on, and the corporate business model needs to be revamped in order to face up to changing consumer behaviour.
Henceforth it is imperative to work on a brand vision and refocus on the customer, and on the customer’s sensibilities, when coming up with marketing strategies. To do this, it is necessary to draw on data, and for a company to demonstrate that it has its role to play on the market in the coming years. Any company can, for example, contribute to protecting the environment through packaging.
Today, there is much talk of “plastic bashing”, of the trash vortices in the world's oceans, and the manufacturers have a role to play in resolving the situation concerning packaging. Indeed, if our modes of consumption do not change, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050!
Solutions do exist, such as educating consumers on the recycling or eradication of plastic on the shelves, while the designers, advertisers and manufacturers are working hand-in-hand to find innovative solutions.
The brands are looking into ecological materials that are consistent, profitable and functional, to offer value in packaging terms. It is also possible to envisage new types of packaging, providing new benefits. There are many possible solutions: reducing the space taken up by packaging, eliminating secondary packaging, reducing the number of supplementary layers, etc. It is also possible to envisage alternative materials, such as bioplastic.
We need alternatives, and there are creative minds out there with imagination and technology at their disposal. Their objective is to take ecology, sensibility and food that extra mile. For Laurence Bethines: “Packaging is the number one communication medium with consumers, and it is through packaging that we can and must work on brand preference.”
Speakers: Pascale Hebel, CREDOC, Laurence Bethines et Marine Perez, TEAM CREATIF
Zoom sur la Team Créatif
L’agence Team Créatif travaille pour des marques alimentaires locales et internationales, dans le domaine du packaging. Son objectif est de donner envier au consommateur d’acheter les produits.