MWV has launched its “Packaging Matters” research with the aim to explore the role of packaging in product satisfaction as consumers purchase, transport, use and dispose of products across 10 different categories. The study was conducted trough an online survey of 3,000 U.S. consumers on their shopping habits and interactions with packaging.

The results of the research suggest that packaging satisfaction can have a significant impact on purchase intent and repeat purchase, and that there is a low level of satisfaction overall, especially once consumers leave the store and rely on the structural or functional features of the package at home or on-the-go.

Packaging does really matter

The study shows that when it comes to purchase intent and product satisfaction, packaging does matter. A majority of consumers will sometimes buy a product off the shelf without prior knowledge of it (64 percent) and rarely use mobile devices to research a product while shopping (72 percent). While quality (85 percent) and price (67 percent) are the most important factors contributing to overall product satisfaction, consumers report little variance in importance between a product’s brand (12 percent) and packaging (10 percent).

The findings show that consumers rate a product’s packaging to be on par with the brand itself (10% vs. 12%). Considering the investment companies make in building their brands compared to their products’ packaging, this is significant,” emphasised MWV.

Opportunity for improvement

Despite the importance of packaging in consumer’s satisfaction, there is a clear opportunity for improvement. Actually, fewer than 20 percent of U.S. consumers report they are “very satisfied” with product packaging, with the least amount of satisfaction from carry-out food containers (11%) and beauty care product packaging (17%).

The research further proves that packaging is one of the most powerful tools in the marketing communications mix, but as it stands now, packaging does not delight consumers,” said Brian Richard, director, Consumer & Customer Insights, MWV. “Brands should view the current gap in satisfaction as an opportunity to make improvements to their packaging by focusing on what matters most to consumers.

Packaging satisfaction decreases throughout the product lifecycle

According to MWV, consumer’s satisfaction with packaging ends at the store. Indeed, the study identified “satisfaction gaps” between the importance of different packaging attributes and their perceived performance. Of the 15 packaging attributes studied, only a small percentage of consumers ranked shelf appeal, or the product’s “attractiveness” and “distinctiveness,” as ”very important” features to their satisfaction (6 percent and 10 percent, respectively). However, this is where brands were performing best, with performance exceeding importance.

While brands are generally pleasing consumers during the shopping experience, satisfaction drops dramatically when product packaging is relied upon for transport and storage and then when the product is used and reused. The largest satisfaction gaps across categories all relate to the structural features or functionality of the packaging. In terms of importance, consumers want packaging that protects from breaking or spilling (74 percent), maintains product integrity (72 percent) and gets the entire product out of the package (66 percent).

Packaging satisfaction decreases significantly after consumers leave the store, at all touch points along the product lifecycle, such as transporting, storing and using the product. This is a huge missed opportunity for brands,” said Steve Kazanjian, vice president, Global Creative, MWV. “Structural features of the packaging should be viewed as the most critical area for brands to make improvements to drive consumer satisfaction.

Packaging that lives up to the brand promise of its marketing communications holds the most potential for repeat purchase,” Kazanjian added. “As more retail migrates online, consumers are interacting less with brick-and-mortar channels. A disappointed consumer can switch brands with one click, so the role of packaging is increasingly an important vehicle for brand owners to connect with their consumers at touch points throughout the product’s lifecycle.