Dispatches from Vitafoods Europe 2016

How to make supplement packaging sexier

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food and drink Drink functional beverage beverage

Supplement players need to make their packaging sexier if they are to bat off competition from encroaching healthy food and drink products, says marketing expert.

Jeff Hilton, co-founder and chief marketing officer of the consultancy BrandHive, warned food supplement players were facing increasing competition from food and drink brands positioning themselves in the health aisle.

“The interesting thing about supplement packaging today is that it has new competition – that being functional food and beverages. Ingredients that go in supplements are now increasingly being [made] available in food and beverage applications,”​ he told us at Vitafoods Europe in Geneva, Switzerland.

“So supplements have a new set of competition they didn’t have before and supplements need to 'step up the sexy' so to speak in terms of engaging with their customers.”

Hilton said the supplement sector could learn a lot from these new kids on the functional block.

The future is emotional and smart

“To me the future of supplement packaging is making that emotional connection. I think one thing foods do well that supplements don’t do well is that they tell a

QR codes digital smart packaging label smartphone iStock.com BernardaSv
© iStock.com / BernardaSv

story. [Foods] engage the consumer in the story of the brand.

“I think supplements tend to be more assumptive that you know this already. I think that supplements need to tell their story, whether it’s clean label ingredients, non-GMO, whatever that may be.”  

Smart labelling may be one way to do that, he said, adding there was an “opportunity” ​in having consumers scan packaging to reveal background information about ingredients.  

However Hilton warned that QR codes were “fairly passé​”, saying past clients had had little success with the concept.

“When they do the QR code where they go on their phone has been uninteresting, not built for a mobile phone and it just hasn’t engaged them and so most consumers just don’t think there is anything worthwhile at the end of the QR code.

“So I think when we improve what’s there, then more consumers will engage.”

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1 comment

Ahead of their time - proof that design IS important!

Posted by Stephen,

I remember 5 years ago in 2011 when I came across a supplement sold by Oriveda, a small marginal company then.

The design and packaging was strikingly different, resembling more a life-style product than the cliche 'picture-on-a-bottle'. It included a QR-code as part of the design. For many the code might have looked as being mere decoration, but I knew better: I just started to master my smartphone and one of the apps was a barcode scanner.

When I pointed it at the packaging I got an instructional leaflet on the screen + an option to buy it online, read reviews (Amazon) etc. I was baffled then and bought the -excellent !- product right away. That this was smart design was proven by the success of the company; they realized a 3000% growth in the past years !

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