It looks as good as it tastes
Premiumisation has been a buzzword in the world of confectionery since the start of the decade but, unlike some buzzwords, there is real substance behind this hot topic. Luxury products have been touted by market analysts as a growth area for developed markets for a number of years. Far from being a passing trend with unsubstantiated claims, entering into the higher realm of premium products has facilitated effective communication of brand stories and increased customer engagement for many players in the sector.
As well as smaller, artisan confectioners, many mass confectionery brands have been looking to tantalise consumers’ taste buds and have seen premiumisation as one way to achieve this. As a way of embracing this trend, many manufacturers have begun offering limited edition, personalised variants and customer experiences, giving much more room for innovation and allowing them to flex their creative muscles. KitKat and Magnum, for example, have seen recent success with pop-up shops where they create artisan versions of their products and encourage customers to design their own personalised treats in store.
While traditional, mainstream sweet shop favourites still garner appeal, at the premium end of the market, manufacturers are incorporating that extra, unexpected ingredient to give their confection a novel kick, or sourcing only the finest raw components to elevate their offer among discerning confectionery fans.
When it comes to chocolate, over the past five to 10 years, darker variants with higher percentages of cocoa solids, as well as individual filled chocolates, have improved in popularity, and these categories lend themselves better to premium ranges. Top confectioners have also responded to consumers’ increasingly adventurous palates with the inclusion of interesting flavours, such as sea salt, chilli and salted caramel.
The move towards premium confectionery is likely to have been inspired by people becoming increasingly interested in the quality of their food and where it comes from. This general consumer movement in the food and drink industry sees customers paying more attention to the story behind the brands they buy. What ingredients have been used? What were the production methods? What’s the history of the product and its manufacturer? As consumers are increasingly aware of all aspects of the product production, including packaging, provenance and environmental sustainability, these considerations should all be top of the agenda for brands looking to click with their customers.
For example, industry heavyweight Nestlé uses fresh milk from local dairies instead of milk powder in some of its products, and more boutique chocolatiers are using unusual flavour combinations, locally sourced ingredients and unusual or manual production methods. All of these elements come together to complement the brand story.
With product innovation comes new packaging and it’s important for brands to get this part right if they want to communicate their brand story effectively. After all, the first bite is with the eye and in order to entice the consumer, the quality of the product found inside needs to be reflected in its packaging.
So, what’s the solution when it comes to packaging a premium product? The packaging must exude quality, which often means softer textures, typically achieved with paper or card, while features like embossing and unconventional opening mechanisms can help add an extra element of sophistication. Whether it’s a tactile feel you’re going for or a more organic, clean approach, the choices you make when it comes to the surfaces and finishes of your packaging have the potential to really elevate your product.
Any packaging material that comes in direct contact with food must of course meet the necessary food and drink standards. While it’s long been possible to make papers and card suitable for food contact, the ranges available have been limited. However, with the growth experienced by the premium confectionery market and the increased interest among consumers in product quality and provenance, there has been an opportunity for paper manufacturers to tap into this by developing more comprehensive ranges of dyed through, fine papers. With a larger array of options now available to them, confectionery brands of all sizes are able to use packaging as a way to tell their brand story and convey their message of quality.
It may be subtle, natural shades that best complement your brand, or glamorous, rich and bold colours might work best. And if you’re keen to portray the pure ingredients used in your product, for example, you could opt to echo that in your packaging by using FSC certified materials to champion sustainability.
Whatever look and feel you’re going for, it’s important to consider your packaging as an integral way of portraying your brand values – along with all other aspects of the supply chain, such as ingredient sourcing, production methods and marketing collateral. It’s a case of investing in the perfect packaging to tie in with your concept and strike the right chord with customers.
With the premium market showing no signs of slowing down, it’s time for brands big and small to explore the different options available to them and enhance their product offering with top notch packaging solutions.