The value of consumer trust in packaging design and brand development

As an increase in trust is expected to boost revenues, organisations are using clearer labeling and adopting stringent production processes to increase product trust. Eloise McLennan sums up the findings in the latest Canadean report by Safwan Kotwal


Clean labelling and stringent production processes help brands to create a trustworthy image. Image courtesy of nd3000


Trust is an ongoing development between manufacturers and customers. It can be difficult to gain, hard to maintain and very easily lost. For many consumers faced with crowded supermarket shelves, confidence in brands helps them to decide which products they purchase and which they avoid.

As the primary contact point for many consumers, packaging can make or break a purchase, which makes it vital for brands to effectively nurture confidence in the quality and contents of the product through the pack design. Although organisations face difficulty in convincing consumers about health claims, product safety, and claims of effectiveness, they are implementing effective strategies that they believe can help build consumer trust in quality claims and reassure consumers of product safety.

Research from Canadean has revealed that fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) organisations view product quality, brand heritage, and tamper-proof packaging as the proffered approaches to increase consumer trust in products. In a recent hot topic report by Canadean, ‘Global Executives Survey: Ways to build Trust through Packaging’, an exclusive panel of industry executives was drawn on to provide the latest thinking about the effect of increase in trust on revenues. The report evaluates the effectiveness of brand strategies in building consumer trust and assesses challenges encountered in convincing consumers about product claims.

Clear communication about health claims, safety and effectiveness can increases profits

"Brands that are seen to be more trustworthy will gain a competitive edge compared to others."

Faith in a brand can be established in a variety of ways, each presenting a different challenge for manufacturers. According to the panel, the most difficult areas to increase trust are health claims, product safety and claims of effectiveness; however, brands reported that they believe they have effective strategies in place to develop trust.

While gaining consumer trust may not be an easy task for manufacturers, it can be highly profitable for brands in the long term. Highly regarded brands will benefit from word of mouth publicity provided by satisfied consumers, which will help to drive sales. As a result, brands that are seen to be more trustworthy will gain a competitive edge compared to others.

In fact, according to Canadean research, more than two-thirds of respondents indicated that increasing trust has significantly helped in boosting revenues for their organisations. Overall, 69% of executives highlighted that increasing trust has been very effective or effective in driving revenues for their organisations, which has led to an increased use of clean labelling on their products, as well as stringent production.

Easy-to-understand labels stand out amongst crowded supermarket shelves

"Shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy about what they are looking for."

Clean labelling provides consumers with a comprehensive description of what the product is and the ingredients it contains in a format that can be easily understood by the everyday shopper. A pack that can effectively communicate beneficial qualities can help to increase the appeal of a product. Additional trust-boosting qualities identified by Canadean include reformulating products to achieve free-from claims, stepped up promotional campaigns, and moving manufacturing to country of origin, for example ‘Made in the UK’.

One example of clean labelling identified by Canadean occurred in August 2014, when the Canadian Government announced new labelling requirements for mechanically tenderised beef (MTB). The guidelines stated that MTB products must be clearly labelled as ‘mechanically tenderised’ and included instructions for safe cooking, which would be verified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

High-quality designs and tamper-proof packaging help to foster a trustworthy brand image

For FMCG organisations, emphasising product quality, brand heritage and tamper-proof packaging are among the favoured techniques used to drive product trust. Results from Canadean research show that more than half of executives in North America believe that a high quality product helps strengthen consumer faith in their product.

Shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy about what they are looking for, in part due to the sheer amount of information available to them, as well as a growing number of health concerns that have cropped up as lifestyles become more hectic. Highlighting the quality of a product is seen as a highly effective way of garnering confidence and quantifying a higher price point. This can be achieved by implementing strict processes that reaffirm adherence to regulations and guidelines, and demonstrate a focus on quality improvement. By openly sharing information about quality features and systems across various product stages with the consumer, companies can further display competence in processes and showcase a desire to provide world-class products.

Proactive communication can be a useful tool for brands trying to strengthen their relationship with consumers. Using brand heritage to establish trust has become a prominent technique favoured by smaller brands. Emphasising the reputation and history of brands provides consumers with a process that they can easily follow and engage with. Integrating a ‘life story’ of the product into the packaging kick-starts an interaction that can draw attention to the consistency in quality and convey a focus on innovation, while also creating an individuality that separates the product from other offerings on the supermarket shelves.

Visual cues on packs can curb security concerns

"Tamper evident packaging has a number of barriers to entry."

Alongside communication, safety forms an important part of consumer trust in products. Beneath the labels and the high-quality appearance, subtle visual cues in the packaging design have the potential to immediately establish confidence in the product.

Tamper evident packaging has a number of barriers to entry, which provide visual evidence if a product has been opened or interfered with. Products available in tamper evident packaging provide consumers with simple visual assurance that the product has not been altered since it left the manufacturer. According to Canadean, 58% of the panel identified tamper evident packaging as an effective way of building consumer trust.

For example, in August 2014, US-based LINDAR Corporation, a manufacturer of plastic food containers, unveiled a range of tamper obvious packaging, including two-piece pie and cake containers. To open the Simply Secure package, the perforated tabs can be torn off, making it user friendly and easy to notice if the container has been opened.


Read the full report: Global Executives Survey: Ways to build Trust through Packaging