Packaging material & aesthetics


Changing trends—from wood to paper and plastics:

Over the years great deal of changes have taken place in the materials used for packaging. In the earlier days, wood was the main material used. It has slowly given place to paper and paperboard, especially on account of shortage in wood supplies. Paperboard cartons, paper bags and corrugated boards have become popular forms of packaging for a variety of products, from groceries to garments.

Metal containers are also popular. Metal container are an excellent packaging medium for processed foods, fruit, vegetables, meat product, oil, paint, etc. However, the acute shortage of tin in India makes metal packaging rather costly. In recent years, aluminium based packaging has become popular. It is used in the form of foil, foil-based laminates, cans, pilfer-proof caps, etc. Products like tea, coffee, and spices have adopted aluminium foil packaging.

Plastics, the new packing medium:

With the growth of the petrochemical industry, a new range of packaging materials have entered the marketing scene. Films of low-density and high-density polyethylene (LDPE and HDPE), metalised polyester film, metalised polyester laminates and polypropylene have become the preferred packaging medium for several products. In fact, such packaging materials have to a large extent replaced the traditional medium of paper, metal and jute.

This new family of synthetic materials, generally known as ‘plastics’ has several merits such as:

1. Waterproof and moisture proof property;
2. Capacity to provide effective barrier to vapor;
3. Greater resistance to sun exposure;
4. Thermal stability;
5. Light weight;
6. Alkali and Acid proof property, Attractiveness and transparency.

They also allow attractive printing/branding on them. Plastics as a group are now dominating the packaging field in India. They are now used in a variety of packaging applications—from simple grocery bags to sophisticated stretch blown bottles. Popular brands like Tata Tea, Nescafe, Dalda, Amul milk chocolates and even agricultural inputs like chemical fertilizers have all gone in for plastic packaging materials.

More innovations in packaging:

The continuous search for improved types of packing has led to a stream of innovations. These innovations have embraced packaging materials, package design, package aesthetics and package convenience. Also, the innovations have been brought in with a view to reducing the costs of packaging and enhancing the shelf life of the product.

Tetra packs:

Tetra packs or aseptic packaging is the new development in food packaging. Here, the package as well s the contents are sterilized and human handling dispensed with. The package consists of several thin layers of polyethylene foil and paper. Several manufacturers of fruit juices and fruit drinks re now using tetra packs. Tetra packs have an edge over cans since their contents have a shelf life of three months without the addition of preservatives.

Parle’s Frooti and Godrej’s Jumpin were the early ones to go in for aseptic tetra packs. Fruit juice brands like Onjus and Tropicana have joined them and now many other brands are opting for tetra packs.

Package Aesthetics

For enhancing the sales appeal of the package, more and more attention is now being given to packages aesthetics. Marketing men are always in search of packaging materials, package designs and package sizes and shapes that will enhance the sales appeal of their products. Marketing men, especially in consumer products, rely heavily on package aesthetics as a powerful tool for sales appeal, brand identification and product differentiation.

When the shape and looks of the product is integral to its appeal, innovative packaging can greatly help in generating trials. Hindustan Lever’s Le Sancy soap, with its unique bean shape, was packaged in transparent polythene to exhibit the shape. For the first time in the soap category, the customer could see the unique shape, color and appearance of the product. The packaging strongly influenced high trial purchases.

In some cases, packaging also facilitates merchandising. The role of package aesthetics in rendering the package as a silent salesman and in projecting the right image of the product is discus in Marketing Communication. Product Differentiation and Brand Management also deal with some of the special characteristics of packaging. Suffice here to say that the size and shape of the package, the material used, the finish, the color, the labeling etc., are all influential components of the total sales appeal of the product.