headline press information

Date 22nd August 2013 / www.procarton.com
Title Packaging in a digital age
Text A study commissioned by Pro Carton and conducted by the market research agency Pointlogic last year showed that packaging is a medium the same as newspapers, radio or TV. The study has now been evaluated specifically with regard to Digital Natives and impulse buyers. The result: "Digital Natives" also place great value on packaging, they are guided more by brands and talk more about the products. For download in print quality, please click on the photo.

"Today, branded items have taken on the function of mass media, states cultural scholar Wolfgang Ullrich. Much of what we know about products – from ingredients to information about the manufacturer–, is learnt from the packaging. And packaging also decides whether a brand matches our lifestyle and whether we would like to own the product. Here, packaging not only takes on the role of mass media, but also its reach: 89 per cent of consumers regularly hold packaging in their hands and study it in depth. This not only happens in the store but also at home.


Whether a product is used quickly or slowly or is recommended, also depends on the packaging. Packaging is therefore more than an equal to the other mass media used in marketing communication – TV, radio, print media or Internet. In particular, the generation of people who grew up with the Internet (the Digital Natives, younger than 30 today) uses packaging for far more than just storing goods safely.

Orientation in a digital world
The Digital Natives have already learned to live with the Internet in their early years – among 14- to 20-year olds this is established practice. Their communication, dealing with media, and also their buying behaviour is characterised by this. The study shows: packaging i soften more important for them than for their older contemporaries.


Basically, packaging has two main tasks: a signal function for orientation in a store and the communication function which brings the brand alive and provides information. The signal function of packaging does not lose its significance in the digital world. On the contrary: it is even more important for Digital Natives when they browse through the Internet. Packaging provides orientation, not only on the store shelf, but also on e-commerce pages and Google search results. Which is why the majority of consumers also places great value on seeing images of the packaging online.


The more people browse through the Internet, the more they appreciate images of the packaging as an orientation aid. Connecting the material features of packaging to the virtuality of the Internet offers new opportunities for brand communication. This is exemplified by the high interest rate in QR codes. Even if usage is increasing slowly, the interest is very pronounced, particularly among the Digital Natives.


The communication function is also of great importance to Digital Natives, especially the brand message, as brands are more important to them than for other age groups. For them, brands are the expression of individual personality and an important topic for discussion. It is therefore not surprising that they have greater brand knowledge which is, for example, expressed in that they recognise brands easier by their logo.

Brands stand for quality. Digital Natives are more pronounced in their assessment of quality through packaging. Packaging is therefore an important element in brand awareness.

Spontaneous or planned
We all have different buying behaviours: sometimes we plan our purchases and have a shopping list when we go to the supermarket. Sometimes we are inspired by offers and make impulsive purchases. But one thing is abundantly clear: no matter whether a spontaneous or planned shopper – a product needs to be held in the hand first to be evaluated properly. When designing packaging it is therefore not sufficient to just focus on attention-getting features. Planned shoppers also pay attention to packaging.


However, the entire spectrum of communication options on packaging tends to be used more by impulse buyers. They rate packaging higher in all its functions than planned shoppers. This also applies to all queried product categories. As spontaneous shoppers are always on the look-out for new things, their attention is guided by new packaging. New things are not only viewed but also touched – and from then on it is a small step to buying.


Planned shoppers view themselves as being competent consumers making rational decisions. Therefore they appreciate information which supplies reasons for the purchase – detailed information on the ingredients and environmental aspects. They are also interested in the small print. This is where packaging offers an opportunity for communication: it can provide additional sensible arguments and supportive information.



Source: Packaging: a medium with considerable power. 23 communication channels in comparison.
Summary of a study by Pointlogic on behalf of Pro Carton and FFI
Point Logic Study, FFI/Pro Carton 2012


CLICK HERE for Pro Carton e-news on the study: „Packaging: a medium with considerable power“

CLICK HERE to download the brochure (PDF) in English

Orientierung durch Verpackungen auch im Internet.
Packaging also provides orientation on the Internet.


Marken demonstrieren und prägen Identität.

Brands demonstrate and impress identity.


Qualität wird auch durch die Verpackung bezeugt.

Packaging also signals quality.


Die Verpackung in der Hand ist der erste Schritt zum Impulskauf.

Holding packaging in your hands as a first step to impulse buying.


Suzanne McEwen +43 1 218 6918 mcewen@procarton.com
Background Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard to brand owners, the trade as well as designers, the media and politicians as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium.