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MeadWestvaco tracks consumer attitudes about packaging

By: Jim Johnson

February 20, 2014

ORLANDO, FLA. — This, Steve Kazanjian says, is not surprising: packaging helps determine what consumers purchase.

But the vice president of global creative for MeadWestvaco Corp., also has this to add: packaging, now more than ever, helps determine a consumer’s relationship with a product far beyond that decision to make an initial purchase.

“It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the role that packaging has played in that brand/consumer relationship has changed irrevocably over the last 20 years, 10 years and even 5 years,” he said during a recent presentation at the Packaging Conference in Orlando.

“At one point, when we thought about packaging, we really just thought about the various functional aspects of the package. So storage and convenience, breakage, temperature, loss, security, things like that. Getting it from the manufacturer through the supply chain and into the retail chain,” Kazanjian said.

While those considerations are just as important as ever, modern consumers view packaging through a larger prism.

“There’s also this new role in packaging. And this new role in packaging that we’ve seen over last five or 10 years has been the emotional role of packaging, the consumer side. The role that packaging plays past retail through use and into the end-of-life,” he said.

MeadWestvaco is out with its second annual Packaging Matters study of consumer attitudes toward packaging.

It’s an important topic for the Richmond, Va.-based company, which gets 83 percent of its $5.3 billion of annual sales from packaging, including those made from plastics.

“Packaging influences purchasing behavior. This really isn’t any new spoiler alert for any of us. We know this. However, there’s some other interesting things that are going on with this as well. Packaging during use also influences repurchase behavior in ways that we couldn’t even dream of,” Kazanjian said in Orlando.

Packaging satisfaction, he said, helps drive product satisfaction that helps drive brand preference that helps drive repeat purchasing behavior.

“If I can get the consumer to be more satisfied with my packaging during use, there’s a higher probability that I can get them back in the store to purchase that product again,” he said. “A really tight link between the two.”

If Kazanjian carried the big picture during the Packaging Conference presentation, Brian Richard was there with the tool box, providing the nuts-and-bolts statistics for this year’s survey.

The director of consumer and customer insights for MeadWestvaco indicated that 64 percent of those surveyed indicated they purchased a new product because the packaging caught their eye. And 42 percent said they used products more regularly because of packaging.

And 36 percent — more than one of every three people surveyed — said they changed brands from a product they previously used because of new packaging.

“If the consumer is less than completely satisfied with the packaging in some way, it opens up the opportunity to switch,” Richard said.

The survey also showed that 11 percent reported being completely satisfied with product packaging with another 39 percent very satisfied and 36 percent moderately satisfied. Another 11 percent were slightly satisfied and 3 percent were not at all satisfied.

“The way we think about packaging is we believe that packaging sits squarely in the middle of this relationship between brand impression and repeat purchase behavior,” Kazanjian said.

More information about the Packaging Matters study is available here: www.meadwestvaco.com/AboutUs/PackagingMatters/index.htm.