With natural and organic brands continuing to inundate the marketplace, processors are turning to market segmentation to claim their niches. Packaging is providing essential support, with designs that call out to targeted segments.
The trend is occurring in both North America and Europe, within natural and organic categories ranging from peanut butter to sparkling water. In some instances, segmentation hinges on consumer values — like a desire for on-the-go convenience or locally sourced food. In other cases, demographic segmentation is the preferred strategy.
In the U.S., Hain Celestial Group Inc., Lake Success, N.Y., recently redesigned the distinctive black packaging for its Terra brand chips to emphasize the root vegetables from which the product is made. The new package graphics, which feature elegant photography of the chips and a fresh visual architecture, also reinforce the brand’s positioning as a premium, gourmet-quality natural snack.
In the redesign, “there were three key elements that we wanted to focus on,” says Sam Garfinkel, senior brand manager for the Terra brand. “The biggest thing we wanted to communicate was … our real vegetables. That gets to the heart of what separates us from all the other players in the snack category.”
Second, he says, “we wanted to modernize the brand. We had a brand that was so premium, but wasn’t as modern as some of the other players in the category.”
Running “a close third” was improved "portfolio navigation." To help consumers navigate the Terra portfolio, which includes more than 20 varieties and some 50 stock-keeping units in various sizes, the package redesign changed how product varieties and seasonings are presented.
“I think the clearest example of how we standardized and improved navigation was with our flavor banner,” Garfinkel says. On the old package, the location and size of the flavor banner varied by flavor. On the new bag, the product variety appears immediately below the Terra logo, and the seasoning cue is right under the variety: “Terra,” “Exotic Potato” and “Sea Salt,” for example.
“We set up a clear architecture for communicating brand, flavor and seasoning, all in a very structured manner … across the brand, so that people would get to the shelf, quickly recognize it as Terra and then easily navigate to their flavor of choice,” Garfinkel explains.
The package’s glossy black surface and high-quality rotogravure printing position Terra as a premium brand, and artistic photography on the bags supports the modernization and real-vegetable communication.
“Stylistically, it’s a very modern angle and look, but [the photography] also helps us highlight all those diverse vegetables that you see in the blend,” Garfinkel says. “It really helps tell that full story in just one image.”
Augmenting the large product photo on the bag, a row of icons across the bottom of the package shows which vegetables are included in that particular flavor.
Brand agency CBX, New York, worked with the brand team on the strategy for the redesign and also created the new package design.
Meanwhile, on-the-go consumers are the target market for a different type of natural snack — peanut butter. In May 2014, Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minn., launched Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter Spread and Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter in single-serving multipacks. The company calls the format Skippy Singles.
Each resealable canister of Skippy Singles holds six 1.5-oz. cups of peanut butter. The small, sealed, individual cups make it easy to transport the product for an away-from-home treat teamed with other foods, or as a snack unto itself.
The canister, with a transparent front panel that displays the cups, simplifies pantry storage and also provides a visual reminder to restock the product as the supply dwindles.
Happy European cows and bees
Rørosmeieriet, Røros, Norway, that country’s largest organic dairy, is redesigning all its packaging to attract consumers interested in locally produced organic products.
The first of the dairy’s redesigns, for its one-liter cartons of milk, launched this March throughout Norway. The company worked with Stockholm-based brand development agency Grow to execute the redesign.
All of Rørosmeieriet’s products “are organic and based on milk from farms in the Røros region and surrounding counties,” says Kjersti Svang Olsen, account director/director brand development at Grow.
The brand’s identity is wrapped up in the “culinary traditions and professional craftsmanship that the area is famous for,” she adds. These include dairy techniques that have been used for many generations in the region.
To communicate these local and traditional attributes to its target market, Rørosmeieriet’s new milk cartons are decorated with a full-size image of an old-fashioned glass milk bottle.
“Compared to the general packaging in the milk [section] in Norwegian grocery stores, it represents a distinctive expression through the use of different graphical means,” says Olsen.
A combination of photography and hand-painted watercolors communicates the milk’s provenance, with an emphasis on Røros, cows and traditional dairy equipment. Inspiration for the new logo came from dairy tools and milk-pail lids.
Going forward, Rørosmeieriet will work with Grow to redesign packaging for the dairy’s sour cream, cottage cheese, skjørost cheese, yogurt and butter.
Also looking to capture local-minded aficionados is Nectaflor, Biel/Bienne, Switzerland. This natural-food company chose a simple but upscale package design for the launch of its limited-quantity, regional honey varieties. Each of the three varieties is named for its region of origin: the Swiss Jura Mountains, the Ticino region or eastern Switzerland. The products launched in summer 2013.
Nectaflor’s local honey “is a modest luxury product … for people who appreciate good local products,” says Christoph Schlatter, creative director at creative agency Allink GmbH, Zurich, Switzerland, which designed the packaging.
The 225g honey package is a stock container, a glass flip-top jar decorated with an elegant letterpress-printed tag. This design emphasizes the product’s natural quality and the brand’s personality.
The tag, which is attached to the jar by hand, “conveys the personal attribute,” Schlatter says. “The product does not assert itself as [a] mass product but as a product from your local beekeeper. The ‘non-design’ puts emphasis on the honey.”
Babies and children
Demographic segmentation is another way processors are slicing and dicing the natural/organic market.
Babies and kids — and their parents — are demographics of keen interest at Stonyfield Farm Inc., Londonderry, N.H. The company recently took a page from the baby food category’s packaging playbook, launching Stonyfield Organic YoToddler, YoBaby and YoKids refrigerated yogurts in spouted stand-up pouches. The company will continue to sell the products in multipacks of cups.
Stonyfield’s pouch products for babies and kids launched in the U.S. earlier this year. A co-branded version, created in partnership with organic food processor Happy Family, New York, will launch in July 2014. Both Stonyfield and Happy Family are owned by Danone, Paris.
The co-branded pouch products will be sold under the brand names YoTot, YoBaby and YoKids Squeeze! in pouches carrying both the Stonyfield and Happy Family logos. Fill size for the YoTot and YoKids pouches will be 3.7 oz., and for YoBaby, 3.4 oz. The reclosable stand-up pouches will be sold in four-packs and individually.
Although the babies/kids market segment is not a new one for either of these brand owners, the products and packaging are pioneering new territory in their own way.
“This is the first organic, refrigerated pouch yogurt, and what that allows us to do is have the real, live, active cultures” in the yogurt, says Seth Beamer, brand manager for the babies’ and kids’ products at Stonyfield. Other pouched organic yogurts on the market, including Happy Family’s, are shelf-stable.
The pouch format also provides parents with functional benefits vs. yogurt cups. “Convenience is certainly at the forefront,” says Beamer. “We know how busy moms are, and this gives them a convenient offering [for] yogurt on the go. It’s much easier for parents to feed their kids with these hand-held pouches.” In addition, the pouch products are “less-mess — almost mess-free.”
Film for Stonyfield’s form-fill-seal pouches is supplied by Clear Lam Packaging Inc., Elk Grove Village, Ill.; the caps are from Georg Menshen GmbH & Co., Finnentrop, Germany. The pouch material is a multilayer film made from linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and polyester, and the closures are polyethylene.
Women with a thirst
For Something Natural brand sparkling water, a new focus on the female demographic led to a recent packaging redesign.
Something Natural, Boston, launched the product in 2010 in a cobalt-blue glass bottle printed with the abstract image of a flock of birds. The product is now distributed throughout the U.S. in chains such as Safeway, Target and Stop & Shop and also in local natural-foods stores.
“Through being in the marketplace … they had identified a couple areas where we could strengthen the design,” says Pamela Long, director/client services at Little Big Brands, White Plains, N.Y. Little Big Brands created the original package design, and the redesign, for Something Natural.
Making the color coding for the five flavors more prominent was one focus of the redesign. “But more importantly, [Something Natural] decided to put a stake in the ground in terms of their target audience. Instead of being for everyone, they really felt like they had a bigger opportunity with the female market,” Long explains.
“They were getting some sales data and some anecdotal data back from stores that … purchasing was 90 percent female,” she adds. “[They thought,] that’s who’s picking us up, so maybe we could skew a little more in that direction.”
Rather than throw out the original design and start over, Something Natural elected to evolve the brand’s look and feel. The result, graphically, was to keep the birds but make a more female-oriented statement with them.
“Initially they had this blue bottle, and they had the name ‘Something Natural.’ The thing that came to mind to us was: What’s more natural than a flock of birds?” recalls John Nunziato, Little Big Brands’ founder and creative director.
In the redesign, the 11-oz. bottle remained the same, but the graphics changed from a flock of birds to five individual birds color-coded by flavor. And the new logo is more feminine than the old one, using a hand-drawn cursive font drawn out as a mono-weight line. The old logo was rendered in a rectilinear, businesslike sans serif font.
Now “each logo is a piece of string that’s in the bird’s mouth, and each one ends differently on the ‘L’ in ‘Natural,’ so that piece of string runs a little bit differently to meet up with the bird,” Nunziato says. The concept plays to the female market in that “the bird is collecting string to build [a] nest.”
The bottles were decorated using applied ceramic labeling (ACL), a screen-printing technique. The designers leveraged the strengths and limitations of ACL to give the printed graphics a natural look while making the color coding more noticeable.
“We switched to color coating a larger area of the bird to get a larger area of ink,” says Nunziato. “But we knew it was going to misregister. This type of printing has a tendency as it goes through the run to register an eighth of an inch left of center and an eighth of an inch right. So when we drew the [birds’] color coding, we drew it irregularly knowing that sometimes it would register and sometimes it wouldn’t.”
He adds that the variability of the printed design is “the beauty of it,” echoing the brand premise of “something natural.”
Long characterizes the redesign as “a good example of a brand owner who listened to [its] retail partners and tried to capitalize on what was working for the brand and improve upon what they were hearing from the marketplace — how the brand could grow and become more powerful for consumers.
“It’s a pretty simple package,” she says, with “just a couple main elements. They had a beautiful structure to begin with. It was really just about decorating it in a beautiful way.”