Directors of Metsä Board

Branding power in packaging

​Do you know where your brand is heading? Let packaging help you. The role of packaging in branding is increasing all the time, as is the value of an extensive premium packaging portfolio.
6 /2016 TEXT: KIRSI RIIPINEN, PHOTO: SEPPO SAMULI
​A successful company is fast and agile. It adapts unassumingly to the ever-changing business climate. And the first manifestation of that will to adapt is packaging. The value of an extensive premium packaging portfolio is increasing – packaging has become a key element in branding.

How can Metsä Board help its customers in developing their brands?

Nora Kärkkäinen NK: The fight for premium shelf space and the consumer’s attention is intensifying. A brand must stand out from the competition. Packaging is at the centre of this struggle.

Petri Jantunen PJ: We accommodate our design and manufacturing processes to the specific needs of our customers’ brands. Lightness, stiff ness, visual appeal and an attractive printing surface are redeeming qualities. We can make the logos jump out from the shelves if that’s how the brand is intended to perform. Equally, an unassuming visual strategy can be used to promote a trustworthy quality.

Heli Kuorikoski HK: An important aspect of a particular brand can be the haptic perception of the packaging. The first direct contact a consumer has to a product is the package. It should be a pleasant experience. This is why we collaborate closely with our customers in both designing and manufacturing their packages.

Juha Lounasvaara JL: Consumers don’t care who has manufactured the package. They are probably not even consciously aware of how packaging affects their shopping behaviour. For us it is core knowledge. We can help our customers gain an advantage in their pursuit of increased market share.

Petri Vakkilainen PV: There was an interesting study where a group of consumers were asked to choose a coffee maker. Some participants made up their minds very quickly. Others took considerably longer because they wanted to read all the small print on the packages and compare the specs. It is very important that a first-rate package presents information for every need – for the quick glimpsers and the fact lovers.

HK: Packaging can have a major effect on why a consumer chooses a certain brand when looking for a new product. That said, a familiar brand is expected to come in an easily recognizable package – a silent salesman. Our job is to make sure that the package conforms precisely to our customer’s marketing strategy. Globally, if need be.

NK: In choosing a product, feelings have a say, along with reason. The first moment of truth happens when a consumer stands in front of a shelf looking at competing products. In digital sales channels, we speak about the zero moment of truth.

JL: In a digital world, packaging must work across multiple channels. Durability is a given when products are sent by mail or courier. And when first contact with a product is a 2D photo on a page with dozens of similar photos, packaging may need to be spectacular.

PV: If packaging fails and its contents are crushed, the consumer is disappointed with the product itself. I still order my music on CD, from online stores. I’m delighted every time I receive a digipak or one of the other paperboard packages. Those plastic jewel cases break very easily.

PJ: A product can be made more enticing with packaging offering additional features. A smooth and even paperboard surface enables faultless and highly detailed printing which may carry holograms and digital codes with links, for example to recipes. The possibilities for different printing methods become almost endless.

Branding power puzzle

Packaging is the brand

As digitalisation marches on, the product itself becomes a part of marketing and the impact of traditional marketing diminishes. Simultaneously, customer experience dictates business. Successful companies need to know both the customer and the customer´s customer thoroughly.

NK: Packaging can define a product, one of the most famous examples being Campbell’s soup. The cans are iconic and instantly recognisable, whether in supermarkets or art galleries.

JL: There are many examples where packaging becomes part of the product, and consumers want to save the packaging or even the shopping bag.

HK: Indeed. It would feel rather strange to purchase some products without their packaging. In these cases also, the packaging is part of the product.

The first direct contact a consumer has to a product is the package.

PV: Packaging is an important part of the product in champagnes and Christmas clarets, for example. Nice packaging makes a bottle of wine a much grander gift.

HK: The features of the packaging material can affect the product a great deal. Just think of a hot pizza thrown into a box made out of recycled fibres – the pizza smells and tastes like board. There are quality paperboards that won’t emit any odours. It is essential to use those if you want your pizza franchise to succeed. Another example is fine chocolate. It is very sensitive to foreign odours and flavours.

PJ: Food trends are changing and so are our products and portfolios, whether you want a trendy package for your new pasta or if you are launching a single-household easy-to-cook brand.

Metsä board mingle

Sustainability rules

Sustainability has to work in practice throughout the entire value chain – and innovation and improvement needs to be continuous. Every phase of the manufacturing process must be ready for evaluation at any given moment. Packaging is subject to the same quality standards as the products it protects.

PV: We know where the wood we use is harvested. We have a close partnership with our suppliers. And as we have similar partnerships with our customers, together we can guarantee that the whole supply chain is sound.

PJ: This functionality must be taken into account across the entire chain, transportation included. Where food is concerned, the significance of purity and security cannot be overemphasised. We demand this from ourselves and from our suppliers. It wouldn’t be possible without extensive knowledge of chemical and process engineering.

PV: Safety is a key factor in everything we do. Our company decided not to use genetically modified substances in our products, for example. We must be able to dissect every part of our manufacturing process.

JL: Reducing the use of raw materials in manufacturing is another vital part of sustainable development. For us, that’s a given. The sustainability goals of the retail trade are perfectly in line with our own goals.

PV: I was in Stockholm, where a hamburger bar had its packaging’s CO2 emissions printed on the box. This a good example of how brands are promoting their sustainability actions to consumers, and how consumer awareness is increasing.

PJ: It’s important that a product has a package of the right size and form with the required protection and promotion characteristics. Our experts are capable of ensuring that just the right amount of the correct raw materials are used, creating a package design that supports the brand image.

JL: Consistent quality is a part of every successful brand and this must be extended to packaging as well. Another important aspect is continuity. When you are on a roll with your product, the last thing you want to confront is your packaging partner running out of paperboard or going out of business.

PV: We have several major warehouses globally. Thus, we can swiftly help our customers on site if need be. We are always ready, technically and operationally.

HK: A quality package made of fresh forest fibre opens easily and can be reopened and closed time and again. Furthermore, it is rigid and looks great. If a package looks scruff y on the shelf, there will be no sale.

Discussing Metsä Board from the customers' viewpoint

Megabrands and individualism

When anticipating future trends, one question is whether the megabrands will fall as individualism increases. There is also a global shift of power, which translates into the emergence of locally made products.

JL: Megabrands will surely exist in the future, but quite possibly their lifespans will be shorter. Digital marketing is cheap, which makes it easier to launch new products. This can eat into the market share of the larger brands.

HK: Artisan products are oft en packed by hand. We can manufacture paperboard for that purpose as well. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we can design packages that entice customers to stay with the brand – cereal boxes have been made like this for decades.

A product can be made more enticing with packaging offering additional features. A smooth and even paperboard surface enables faultless and highly detailed printing.

PJ: One major future trend will be the diminishing use of oil-based plastic, while the use of paperboard will increase. This transition is being augmented by technological advances in the board industry. There are many technologies already enabling wider use of paperboards, and new ones are constantly under development.

HK: Personalisation is becoming more significant, as well as digital printing.

JL: There is an ever-increasing desire to avoid food wastage. Packages will be opened and closed – tightly – dozens of times. Our products will have to meet this challenge, and meet it they will. Could the next step then be to effectively replace the use of other materials with board? We have many ideas for packaging, and these will be developed into products together with our customers.

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