One of the added benefits to my unscientific, non-technical look into the world of short-run printed packaging as seen by consumers on store shelves this summer has been the recognition, clarification and underlining of the packaging market’s role in everyday life.
My photo blog and Twitter ramblings are coming first and foremost from my experiences as a consumer, shopping in UK supermarkets for grocery products and buying everyday essentials, from cat food and milk, to vegetables and beverages.
I’m in the enviable (?) position as a package printing journalist of being able to quantify what I see in front of me on the shelf when it comes to product diversification through packaging, but for most the sheer volume of product, and therefore packaging, diversification must be mind-boggling.
I was speaking with a converter in the US last week, and they mentioned that they use toothpaste as a gauge for product diversification. Not so long ago, they said, you had a choice of two brands, and two products from each of those. That’s four types of toothpaste, making the choice much simpler.
Now, there is a whole aisle dedicated to dental hygiene, with many more brands offering a far more diverse range of products. Search for “Colgate” on the Tesco.com online shopping portal and you get 84 results, while “toothpaste” returns 129 results.
That got me thinking, and looking, during my shopping trip this week; what other products have ballooned in a similar way?
The truth is that product diversification can be seen everywhere. From dairy products, with flavored, squeezable and convenience cheeses, to cat food, where food and treats come in numerous flavors and in bespoke printed packaging to match, product diversification is everywhere to be seen.
Using Tesco again, a search for “cat food” returns 265 results.
The joke used to be that the cat, with salmon and chicken or duck and turkey, gets fed better than I do; I fear it’s no longer a joke.
With such widespread product diversification, it’s clear to see the value of printed packaging to brands. They’re fighting a constant battle to get their product seen, noticed and purchased in a sea of rivals, be it other established brands or the own-label products more and more evident in UK supermarkets.
Short-run printed packaging allows them to be more responsive to the market, find out what’s working on the shelf, take advantage of opportunities presented by global and national events, and produce eye-catching packaging that triumphs at the “moment of truth”.
As an example, stock/recipe cube brand Oxo has added special “curry” and “spag bol” variants to its range of products, which already included boxes for chicken, beef, lamb, vegetable and reduced salt stock cubes, not to mention squeezable tubes of concentrated gravy.
Tesco lists 15 products when you search for “Oxo”, not including the new examples pictured above, so that gives you another idea of how far and wide product diversification, and the printed packaging needed to make sure goods reach the consumer, extends.
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