Peter Heath

Peter Heath

Innovative packaging will help steer products and brands through recessionary times, new research has found.

Packaging event organiser EasyFairs conducted its survey among senior brand managers and found that clever packaging is rated by them as one of the best weapons in a marketing manager’s arsenal to attract scarcer spending during an economic slowdown. About 28 per cent of the respondents said packaging would be one of the last two areas to be cut back in any budget squeeze, the other being promotions.

Peter Heath, md of EasyFairs UK, pictured, said: “With shoppers less willing to part with their money, brands are desperate to create shelf stand-out and differentiation to capture consumer spending. Packaging innovations and promotions, two tactics that work hand in glove, are seen by marketers as the best way to achieve this.”

Other findings from the research are that 84 per cent of managers think packaging is a quick way to innovate.

The green agenda is still dominant and nearly 75 per cent of those surveyed said that they are just as committed to sustainability and environmental initiatives as they were before the credit crunch hit the headlines.

Martin Hardwidge, chair of IOP: the East Midlands Packaging Society, said the survey showed how crucial packaging is. He said: “It remains the primary way brands communicate with their customers and has been the main engine of customer choice for a century.

“Innovations for fresh produce abound - tailoring the atmosphere inside the pack without additional gas to extend shelf life, indicating when fruit is ripe and more. Fresh produce might have a different dynamic to other sectors, but packaging is every bit as important - especially when it comes to prepared produce - as it is in the wider packaged foods market.”

But Hardwidge is concerned for the future of the sector. He said: “We need more highly trained and qualified packaging technologists to develop and deliver these new ideas, so that the UK packaging industry stays at the forefront of packaging development and the brands that take advantage of these developments are best placed to ride out these difficult times.”