An investigation into the elements of packaging and its influence on the consumer at the point of purchase.
The exact nature of the point of sale can vary considerably, from huge hypermarkets to roadside stalls and cafes. At each of these, the consumer is faced with a dizzy array of products to choose from. In all of these instances, packaging can provide the trigger for differentiating the product and hence to purchase it. In the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry, almost 70% of the purchase decision are taken at the point of sale. Effective packaging at the point of sale can render huge opportunities for a company, as this can allow the product to stand out against competitors, evoking emotions from the consumer to purchase their product. Unilever is the second largest consumer goods company in the world. Predominate product categories include the food and home care businesses. In South Africa they dominate the laundry market with well-known brands such as OMO, Skip, Sunlight, Surf etc. As part of their growth strategy, much focus is placed on harmonisation of product and packaging development. Apart from aligning product formulations, this strategy also includes aligning pack designs. It is therefore critical that before any decision is made on changing pack designs to conform to global standards, that an in-depth study be undertaken in order to assess how changes in packaging elements affect the South African consumer. It is also important that all involved in the local packaging value chain, ie artwork agencies, packaging suppliers, company brand development members, are in tune with what the local consumers want. The objective of this research is to establish which (combination of) packaging elements (ie colour, shape, materials and design) in laundry products are most effective in influencing consumers purchasing decision. The study focussed specifically on Surf LSM 7-8 consumers in Durban. The research further looked at which packaging elements associated with the Surf brand influence purchase decision as perceived by members of the packaging value chain (artwork agencies, packaging suppliers and company's brand development) and compared this to findings in the consumer segment. This was done to evaluate how effective the packaging value chain is in delivering an effective package to the target consumer. The research was carried out as follows: 1. A literature review to gather knowledge about packaging elements and its communicating capability of messages in order to identify which elements have these capabilities. 2. A quantitative study to gain insight into which attributes of packaging elements are most effective in communicating specific product attributes associated with the Surf platform. 3. A semi-quantitative study to gain insight into which attributes of packaging elements are effective in influencing a consumers purchasing decision It was found that respondents from brand development had a good understanding of Surf consumers' current image of the brand. Artwork agencies and packaging suppliers need to become more involved with consumer research and immersions in order to bridge the gap in better understanding what the brand stands for. The colour blue still remains the main visual cue linked to the Surf brand. There could be an opportunity for the colour red to be used effectively in order to depict brightness. There is also a possibility that flexible packaging would be more appealing provided that opening/closing could be improved. Holographic designs should definitely be incorporated onto a Surf pack.