"The Sense N Insight research service helps our customers develop new packaging that adds value to their product. Our services are easy to take onboard. The customer needs no previous expertise in marketing research, and the results are summarised in a clear and accessible format. We usually conduct shelf tests in a virtual environment, which speeds up the research stage and allows for testing new packaging designs and visuals without the need for expensive samples. Research at a sufficiently early stage of the NPD process saves resources and helps to optimise the sales potential of the package,” says Virpi Korhonen, Managing Director of PTR, listing the advantages of the service.
Launching a product is an extremely costly way to learn, and the majority of new products will fail. “The package is the most efficient medium for a company, as it communicates the brand values 24/7. An excellent package stands out on the shelf and adds value to the product in the eyes of the consumer, which can be translated into a higher price point. If the product sells well, the research will pay itself back in a matter of months. A typical life cycle for packaging is three to five years,” Korhonen says.
The service was developed in collaboration with customers. Those who participated in the product development were delighted with the outcome. “One of the things we looked into, for example, was alcohol packaging and whether it was worthwhile to invest in encasing the bottle. The fact was that a cardboard box clearly improved the visibility and prestige of the product in the eyes of the consumer. Our concept has attracted broad interest in international design agencies at trade fairs,” Korhonen says.
PTR Package Testing and Research is actively looking for international research partners. The company is working on a joint packaging research project with a Dutch structural designer. According to Korhonen, brands are currently highly interested in eco-friendly packaging solutions. Research is the key to optimising the benefits to be gained by brand and consumer alike from changing packaging material. If the consumer cannot see the value that packaging creates for them, that value is in fact nonexistent. With the help of research data, the manufacturer, who is usually too involved with the product, has a rare opportunity to step into the shoes of the consumer. With respect to the circular economy, motivating the customer is key. If consumers do not understand how packaging can be recycled, they may choose not to buy the product. The use and disposal of packaging must be hassle free, without complex instructions. The consumer should feel that when the package was designed, both the consumer and environment were front of mind.
The service utilises an ROI tool, which helps assess the return on investment of packaging. The tool was developed to make companies consider improving productivity through packaging and the associated brand message, and by increasing demand rather than focusing on minimising packaging costs at every turn. The ROI tool helps companies to refocus strategically, which will ideally create success. It can also be used to identify new business opportunities and stakeholders in the value chain and help create a new generation of informative packaging solutions.
"The development of the ROI tool began by defining the indicators predicting the level of demand for any given package. Development work will continue this year with the support of the Media Industry Research Foundation of Finland," Korhonen concludes.
The Sense N Insight service development project has received funding from the Business Finland BioNets Program.
Text: Sirpa Mustonen