The Secret to Creating a Closer Relationship with Consumers May Lie in Metal Packaging
Consumer-centric branding has become an essential sales strategy for retail outlets to compete and grow. This approach goes beyond product features and looks at how the brand relates to a consumer’s life.
A web of trends criss-crosses the consumer landscape defining choices - everything from healthy living to increased convenience to greater individualism. While no single form of packaging can address every one of these mega-trends, there are some new packaging technologies that address the points where they intersect. New developments in metal packaging for the food market can help brand owners reach consumers through these important evolving trends while still competing economically.
Convenience is a relative term: there was a time when can openers were considered a convenience technology for food cans. That all changed when easy-open end technologies entered the market nearly 15 years ago. The convenience story is still evolving today as new ends are introduced to further improve performance and functionality.
The “easy” in easy-open ends is really judged by three features: “pop force” to pierce the score, “tear force” to initiate the peel, and “peel force” to remove the panel. Easylift™, a new development from Crown, addresses the remaining opening feature hitherto under-developed: finger access. Consumers are able to use the generous gap underneath to better access the ring pull with their finger or thumb.
Another development in easy-open technology is peelable foil ends. For products such as meat and fish-based salads and desserts especially, these ends offer a simple, intuitive way of enjoying products on the go. This system consists of a round or rectangular metal ring, heat sealed with a peelable aluminum foil lid. The end is conventionally seamed onto the can, offering fillers a fast and cost-efficient production process. The foil is therefore easy to peel and remove.
New technologies such as finger access and peelable foil ends are major innovations in convenience for the food industry because they bridge the gap between so many of the durable aspects of the can and consumer expectations for easy-to-open packaging. Although easy-open cans have been around for many years, an enhancement such as Easylift™ ensures consumers continue to develop a positive relationship with food brands.
Making easy-open easier benefits more than just busy people. According to a study from the Swiss University of St. Gallen, in Western industrialized societies, people over the age of 60 already make up 20 percent of the population. By 2050, they will represent almost a third. Easy-open technologies offer brand owners an avenue to grow relationships with this aging demographic by making their product more accessible.
Convenient & nutritious
Moving food products around is a challenge for any kind of food packaging. Cans have excelled in this area for a long time. Rigid, stackable, and hermetically sealed, cans have always traveled well en masse.
In today’s world, cans are still easy to transport in large quantities, but transportation innovation tends to center on the consumer. In a culture defined by cup-holders in cars, microwaves, and disposable contact lenses, easy transportation is defined less on a Napoleonic battlefield and more on the morning commute.
At the same time, consumers are increasingly looking for healthy alternatives that are still convenient. Creating healthy, durable, and easy-to-prepare meals that fit into this lifestyle can be challenging. Again, old and new can technologies present some compelling solutions. For example, can shaping makes it possible to create a wide range of shapes out of metal while still retaining its durable properties. This technology has been used extensively to grab the attention of consumers, but it has also been used to create bowl shapes or shallower containers that can easily be placed into a briefcase or purse.
Versatility in shape along with easy-to-open technologies positions the can well in the context of easy-to-transport food. Cans or metal shaped bowls offer strong and robust metal packaging, highly resistant to damage. For all consumers but especially single people, they offer new options for those who are looking for a quick bite to eat with no mess to clean up. In addition, cans require no refrigeration or freezing so they can be simply stored in the cupboard for use at any time.
Canning has always used heat and vacuum to seal in freshness. These longstanding benefits are combining today with new easy-open technologies, as well as bowl shaping, to create durable, transportable options for consumers who demand nutritious meals on the go.
Furthermore, except for a few cold meat products, canned foods are already cooked in the can, locking in freshness and extending shelf life. Consequently they do not need preservatives and any additives like sugar and salt are used solely for taste. Canned foods are therefore nutritious and contribute to a balanced healthy diet especially five-a-day with fruits and vegetables.
In terms of easy opening, durability, usability, and disposability, today’s food cans offer consumers a simple, elegant, and effective solution. Of course, the biggest obstacle to the image of cans may be their own success. Cans are still very popular today and have grown a universal iconic status. They occupy many cupboards and shelves at home and nearly everyone uses them for a snack, a meal complement or an ingredient for a special recipe with other food types. Bridging the gap between this image and one of on-the-go convenience is a challenge, however, it won’t be the first time cans faced such a hurdle.
For more information, visit CROWN Cork & Seal USA Inc. at www.crowncork.com.